Results tagged ‘ Mark Lerner ’
An update from the 2011 Winter Meetings in Dallas, from the desk of Mark D. Lerner, Nationals Principal Owner:
Day 2 is in the books …
* I have sat in on most of Mike Rizzo’s internal meetings and things continue to progress. Tuesday’s various chats, both on the free agent and trade fronts, were more concrete than Monday’s. Mike is exploring every avenue possible, but remember – it takes two to tango.
* One thing I know that Mike is NOT concerned about is leaving Dallas without consummating a deal. If a trade or signing happens here, well that is fantastic. But sometimes these meetings set the stage for something to happen next week, next month or even next year.
One of Mike’s challenges is that he is being asked more and more about our young talent. Some of that talent has already reached D.C., while some if it continues to develop in our farm system. Keep in mind how much our talent has matured over the past few years. So I think it is fair to say Mike’s call volume is higher than ever.
*Tuesday night marked our annual Minor League Affiliates Reception. It is always fun to see our extended family from Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown, Auburn and Viera (GCL) and reaffirm to them just how much they are part of our maturation as a franchise.
Twenty-five years from now, Bryce Harper will remember Hagerstown. And he’ll remember his first post-season race as a pro, which took place this August in Harrisburg. Tommy Milone will be able to cite chapter and verse his 12-win campaign with Potomac in 2009. These smaller towns provide the backdrop for the game’s development, and the support and structure provided by the various front offices is not taken for granted, especially at Nationals Park. Thanks you Chiefs. Thank you Senators. Thank you P-Nats. Thank you Suns. Thank you Doubledays. Thank you GCL Nationals!
* One thing I have noticed is the collective glow emanating from our game. In my mind, it dates back to the last night of the regular season and carried on through one of the best World Series ever. Then it culminated in the signing of a new CBA just prior to Thanksgiving. It is a good time to be a baseball fan. More specifically, an even better time to be a Nationals fan! We cannot wait to begin making our own October memories in the years to come.
Welcome to Hot Stove season, Nationals fans!
With Winter Meetings taking place next week, baseball is back in the headlines as fans eagerly await news of who will be the latest players to don the Curly W. Here’s your chance to join in on the action and get some inside information straight from the Nationals Executive contingent in Dallas! You can submit your questions in the comments below, by email at CurlyW@nationals.com, or via Facebook and Twitter (include #NatsQnA with your question). Check back here on Wednesday, December 7 to see what the execs have to say!
Hello again Nats fans. It has been a while, but I wanted to stop by and offer some of my thoughts on Tuesday night’s 2011 debut for Stephen Strasburg
Does AWESOME! cover it? I am not sure it does it justice. But it was truly exhilarating. This, I can confirm.
Tuesday night’s start really was a year in the making.
But, I suppose most (myself included) will never know everything that went into the making. We may never know the pain, focus, trepidation, elation and isolation that Stephen endured to get to that mound last night.
Sure, I think we know the year-plus process was arduous at least and tedious at best. But something tells me even that does not tell the entire story.
So, who can relate to Stephen’s plight the last 13 months? Perhaps a marathoner breaking a foot? An artist smashing a hand? They can relate in their own worlds.
But, I have to think that those who can best relate to Stephen are those pitchers who have had arm injuries themselves.
Jordan Zimmermann and Ryan Mattheus (Tommy John Surgery) or Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder), they can relate. The Cardinals Adam Wainwright is likely beginning to understand, as has his teammate Chris Carpenter, who last fall lent Stephen a bit of knowledge as to what to expect. So can hundreds of others who have left this game prematurely, or the dozens currently rehabbing their own arm injuries.
But can we as fans empathize? I am not so sure we can with complete and true appreciation.
With Strasburg’s 2011debut still fresh in our minds, I have to remind myself that this rehab process is not yet complete. With that said, I believe it is appropriate to acknowledge the precision, expertise and wisdom of Dr. Lewis Yocum, who performed Stephen’s surgery on Sept. 3, 2010, and Nationals Medical Director, Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, who assisted on the procedure.
Let us not forget those that stood behind Stephen the entire way. For it is their hard work, scheduling, communication and (most importantly) execution of the Strasburg rehab calendar that made Tuesday’s outing possible. Job well done to our athletic training staff of Head Athletic Trainer Lee Kuntz, Assistant Athletic Trainer Michael McGowan, Medical and Rehab Coordinator Steve Gober, Strength and Conditioning Coach John Philbin and Senior Medical Consultant Dr. Bruce Thomas. And I should not forget the athletic training staffs in Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown and Viera, too.
What a thrill it was for many of us last night to re-engage and reconnect with Stephen Strasburg the pitcher. And coupling that enjoyment with how much I personally admire Stephen for his talents, it really made me wonder what the last year was like for Stephen Strasburg the person.
Well, thank you for checking in. I will be back in touch in the next couple of weeks. I have a few more thoughts and observations I’d like to convey about the big league and minor-league levels as we put a bow on the 2011 campaign.
Have a great weekend and hope to see you at Nationals Park….as soon as the rain ends!
With the help of the Washington Nationals, kids with special needs throughout the Washington Metropolitan area will now have a place to play baseball! On Monday, August 1, the ballclub celebrated the opening of the Washington Nationals Miracle Field in Montgomery County with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Nationals pitchers Sean Burnett and Jordan Zimmermann, manager Davey Johnson, third base coach Bo Porter and Principal Owners Mark D. Lerner and Judy L. Lerner were all in attendance to help open the field.
The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation partnered with various civic and community organizations from Montgomery County to construct the Miracle Field, which was built to provide children with disabilities a place to play baseball safely. Located in South Germantown Recreation Park, the field is made up of a cushioned synthetic turf that allows children using wheelchairs and walkers to “run” the bases without fear of injury.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, more than 30 children were given their first opportunity to play on the field, a sight Nationals manager Davey Johnson was particularly thrilled to see.
“I’ve raised a few children who had special needs,” Johnson explained. “This warms my heart seeing these kids running around, having this facility to play on. I’m actually more proud to be a part of this than the World Championship teams I’ve been with.”
The Washington Nationals Miracle Field is the first of its kind in the D.C. region and in the state of Maryland, and it will serve as the new home for the Miracle League of Montgomery County. Currently, there are 240 Miracle League organizations across the country that provide opportunities for more than 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
“We’re serving a great need: to break down a lot of the barriers that are out there that separate kids who don’t have special needs with those who do,” Montgomery County councilmember Craig Rice said. “It’s a great opportunity for kids with special needs and developmental disabilities to get outside.”
Brian, a 17-year old who suffered a brain injury as a child and is now in a wheelchair, was one of the many Miracle League athletes in attendance at Monday’s event. His mother Debbie extolled the virtues of the new Miracle Field.
“I think it’s very important,” she said. “There are a lot of recreational activities for children who do not have severe disabilities, but it’s very limited for children who can’t walk. This is amazing. It’s going to help a lot of the children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in team sports.”
Children with disabilities often struggle to participate in recreational activities because of physical barriers, but the new field will help minimize these obstacles and make playing baseball a possibility.
“This means so much to these kids because they get to be a part of something that they hadn’t been a part of before,” Councilmember Rice added. “They get to be outside, and play and enjoy a team sport. We know that builds character; that’s why we encourage sports as a part of our daily lives as kids grow. I think we need to continue to do that, especially for our children with special needs.”
The highlight of the day for all involved was seeing the pure joy that the new field provided to all of the children in attendance.
“It just touches your heart,” Johnson said. “You learn so much from these children. It’s just special; I can hardly put it in words. It’s just wonderful.”
Greetings Nats fans! It’s been a long road trip for your Nationals, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are thrilled to welcome the team back to town. Over the next 10 days, they’ll play nine games, including next weekend’s Battle of the Beltway vs. the Baltimore Orioles.
- Official Press Release | Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk
Without looking too far ahead, it’s my pleasure to share some exciting news with you before the first game this week is even played. As you may know, over the past year we have made a number of enhancements to the fan experience in and around Nationals Park. In particular, the revamped Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk features our popular Miller Lite Party Nights, drink specials, live music and entertainment – not to mention great views of the action on the field.
As they say, we’ve only just begun. On Tuesday night, we are excited to unveil four new culinary offerings at Nationals Park before the team faces the St. Louis Cardinals. From Danny Meyer’s renowned Union Square Hospitality Group, we welcome Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, El Verano Taqueria and Box Frites to the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk. The exterior of each eatery features its own distinct design that characterizes their unique cuisines. In addition to the great food, I’m also confident that you’re going to love the new layout of this refreshed area. Large sweeping sails provide shade and there’s a stage for various musical acts (schedule of performers). An assortment of large trees and shrubbery are interspersed amongst comfortable chairs and sofas in a lounge-like setting. Put simply, these new dining options will make the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk one of the hottest destinations in all of professional sports, and we couldn’t be happier to have it right here at Nationals Park.
I don’t know about you, but this has all of a sudden made me very hungry, and I don’t even know where to begin. Whether it’s Blue Smoke’s Chipotle Chicken Wings, a large box from Box Frites or El Verano’s “Elote” corn on the cob, there are so many great new choices. And of course you’ll need to wash it all down with a hand-spun milkshake from Shake Shack. The options are just about limitless, and I anticipate you’ll have the same dilemma of deciding which new eatery is your favorite. Luckily, starting Tuesday night, you’ve got all summer to come out and enjoy the latest enhancements to the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk and all that it has to offer. I can’t wait to see you there. Go Nats!
Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit
League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the
Nats Spring Training home in Viera, Fla. Check back often for the latest
Good afternoon NatsTown!
Later tonight, after today’s 1:05 p.m. home game against the Tigers, my wife,
Judy, and I will fly back to DC, thus ending our three-week stay in Viera. We
talked last night about perhaps a longer stay next spring. Only time will tell,
but we both agreed that we struck the right balance between business and
pleasure during our visit. It sure was nice to cut almost a month off our
winter. We have enjoyed seeing Nationals fans all around Viera, not just at
Space Coast Stadium, and also on all of our road trips. Although it will be
good to get back into the DC routine, it will be hard not to let my mind wander
back to the ballclub.
Fortunately, NatsFest is only 10 days away, and of course the season opener is
the next afternoon against the Braves at Nationals Park. Here are a couple of
notes I’d like the share as it pertains to these two events:
NatsFest (Wed., March 30, 4-8 p.m. at Nationals Park)
*Batting Practice will begin at 4 p.m.
*Each of the 25 Nationals will be present and participate in NatsFest, with the
one exception being the Opening Day starting pitcher.
*We will also be bringing a few bonus Nationals for our fans to meet: Stephen
Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Derek Norris, Chien-Ming Wang and Cole Kimball. Also
look for Bob Boone and Davey Johnson to be in town that day and mingling.
*Fans will enjoy various Q and A sessions and opportunities to interact with
and take pictures of their favorite Nationals. Children will also be able to
attend and participate in their own event, a Kids Press Conference, which
begins at 6:50 p.m.
Opening Day (Thu., March 31, 1:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta Braves)
*We urge all our fans to come early. We are expecting a sellout crowd and want
all of our fans to enjoy their afternoon at Nationals Park as much as possible.
This will also allow everyone to enjoy the extended pregame festivities.
*By the way, earlier this week, the Braves named RHP Derek Lowe as their
Opening Day starter.
So, this will be my final Spring Training blog. Why don’t we start with some
impressions from the last three weeks:
*I have talked about this before, but this really was a well-run camp. Jim
Riggleman, Bobby Henley and a dozen or so coaches and advisors put together a
heck of an operation. I honestly feel the emphasis on fundamentals set the
stage for a successful Grapefruit League and 2011 season.
*I enjoyed getting to know Mike Rizzo’s key offseason additions (Jayson Werth,
Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny, Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Matt Stairs, among
others) for the first time. And I am more enthusiastic than ever about our next
wave of homegrown talent. What is not to like about Danny Espinosa, Wilson
Ramos, Bryce Harper, Chris Marrero, Derek Norris and Cole Kimball?
*Don’t the new home uniforms look fantastic? We’ve purposely worn them for all
of the games televised on MASN. They offer a clean look and, we believe, best
portray the tradition of baseball in DC. I have received
a lot of great comments down here not only from our players, but our fans as
*Mike Rizzo has a slew of big roster decisions to make in the next 10 days or
so. Who will be the 25 players to comprise your Nationals Opening Day roster?
Sure, he will seek out and process input from Jim Riggleman and his staff, but
ultimately, it is Mike’s call as to who makes that roster. Personally, I love
that he’s grinding a bit. This means there is big league talent here. These are
the type of decisions that we dreamt about back in 2007 and ’08. But at that
stage of our evolution, we were always looking to add quality big league
talent, not pare it down, at the end of spring.
*Random highlights of my Spring Training experience, in no particular order:
Michael Morse’s scalding hot start, talking to Stephen Strasburg and seeing him
throw a baseball again, Bryce Harper’s first exposure to big league pitchers,
seeing Jayson Werth on our ballclub, Kenny G’s one-minute note, the
beyond-perfect weather, the Nationals’ Par 3 Golf Tournament, a pair of wins
over the Yankees, March 11 twilight launch of Delta Rocket (spy satellite… but
don’t tell anyone).
Again, many thanks for your interest in our ballclub. We look forward to seeing
many of you at Nationals Park this summer. And down here again next spring.
I will be in touch again soon.
Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the Nats Spring Training home in Viera, Fla. Check back often for the latest updates.
Hey NatsTown. Thanks for again stopping by.
Big weekend down here. Two more wins, including Saturday’s 6-5 comeback win over the Yankees in front of a packed house at Space Coast Stadium. We are now 10-5 on the Spring. Only the Braves (11-5) have a better record in the Grapefruit League. Feels good! We lost today’s home matchup with the Tigers, 4-1, but Jason Marquis continued to pitch very well. I think we are beginning to see the “real” Jason Marquis now.
Want to change things up today. Peek just about anywhere on television or at your favorite newsstand and you’ll quickly notice that our society is fixated on lists.
Honestly, who does not appreciate a good list after all? They are fun, thought provoking and stir debate.
With this in mind, I am going to list 50 “things” I am interested in, excited about or intrigued by entering the 2011 season.
This list is in no particular order, but I hope this spurs some dialogue and/or discussion among your fellow Nationals fans and friends.
Please feel free to send along your own admissions.
Let’s get started …
1. Opening Day. Packed house, a big win over the Braves. I had to list this first, right?
2. Jordan Zimmermann’s evolution in first complete season since having Tommy John surgery.
3. The buzz at Nationals Park when Henry Rodriguez hits triple digits on the radar gun.
4. The number of ways Jim Riggleman can pencil in Zimmerman, Werth, LaRoche in the 3-4-5 slots. Or will it be just one?
5. Witness day-to-day Pudge’s march toward 3000 hits.
6. The new food options opening up during the season at Nationals Park. This won’t be a small list.
7. How much has Screech worked out this offseason? Will he again be svelte Screech?
8. Our outfield defense. You have to think it will be really strong under almost every alignment Rizzo and Riggleman come up with.
9. Ian Desmond’s defense. With a year of maturity and experience under his belt, and LaRoche’s vacuum-like glove at first base, how many fewer errors will he make without compromising his elite range.
10. Will Sean Burnett continue to be as good a left-handed middle reliever as there is in MLB? I bet he will be with continued good health.
11. Jayson Werth’s professionalism and its affect on our clubhouse. And how his presence in the middle of our lineup will positively affect our run production.
12. Roger Bernadina or Nyjer Morgan, who will have more bunt hits.
13. Who will lead the team in hustle hits (aka infield hits)? My bet is on Ian Desmond. But watch out for Danny Espinosa, plus he gets more than half his at-bats from the left side.
14. When will we see Rick Ankiel’s legendary outfield arm pay dividends for the first time. Cannot wait.
15. Will Tyler Clippard stick with “Peaches” as his intro song. Hope so.
16. How will Jim Riggleman use his bench, which is as talented and as deep as we have known here.
17. How many pinch homers will Matt Stairs hit? How many of those will be game-changers.
18. Does Michael Morse put it all together? His prospects look good, don’t they?
19. How noticeable and tangible will our renewed emphasis on baserunning be? Should be really fun seeing a lot of first-to-third, first-to-home on a double, etc.
20. See Livan throw a ‘Bugs Bunny’ changeup that registers in the low 60s on the radar gun?
21. Will Ryan Zimmerman win his 3rd straight Silver Slugger?
22. Can Ryan rightfully reclaim his Gold Glove? I bet “yes.” Having Mr. LaRoche as a target won’t hurt.
23. Interested to see Wilson Ramos’ arm and, for kicks and giggles, ask Bob Boone how it compares to Pudge’s when he was 23 years-old.
24. With his new mechanics in mind, watch Ross Detwiler take the next step in his career (so far, so good this spring)
25. Watch who gets the majority of our saves.
26. Good weather, maybe highs in the 70s with plenty of sun, for Nats Fest on Wed., March 30.
27. Want to watch the Mel Antonen, Tom Davis, Dave Johnson and Phil Wood pre pre-game show on MASN from 5-6:30pm weeknights. Also excited about Charlie and Dave on 106.7-WJFK FM. Good to be back on FM again!
28. Multiple All-Stars for the Nationals for the first time since 2005 (Livan, Chad Cordero).
29. With a small lead in hand, see who will pitch the 9th inning on Opening Day against the Braves.
30. Can Collin Balester clone his Sept. 2010 performance and reproduce it in 2011?
31. How many home runs will Bryce Harper hit in the minor leagues?
32. See who Mike Rizzo and his talented network of scouts pluck with the 6th and 23rd-overall selections in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
33. Excited to experience F.P. Santangelo on MASN 10 times in 10 days during a May road trip.
34. Time (via a stopwatch) how long it takes our fans to fall in love with Jayson Werth and Jerry Hairston, Jr. Oh, and Todd Coffey and his sprint?
35. Further good health and prosperity for Jesus Flores, who deserves both.
36. Fewer trips to the mound for Steve McCatty as our starting pitchers consistently go 7 innings.
37. Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond become the best and most athletic middle infield tandem in the NL. Heck, why stop there. Let’s say best in MLB.
38. Adam LaRoche to be named as one of the sneaky-good signings of the 2010-11 offseason.
39. Perhaps have a young opposing player swing twice when seeing a vintage Tyler Clippard changeup for the first time.
40. With most of Taiwan watching, have Chien-Ming Wang make the first of his 20+ starts for us in May.
41. Read about an opposing player like Chipper Jones, Chase Utley or David Wright lauding the consistent hustle and effort of your 2011 Washington Nationals.
42. Require a calculator to tally the number of errorless games we string together in 2011.
43. Watch to see how we grow as a franchise through the prism of social media.
44. See if Nyjer Morgan can regain his 2009 Mojo.
45. Watch Danny Espinosa homer from both sides of the plate in the same game.
46. Have Livan Hernandez rightfully claim his first Gold Glove.
47. See Tom Gorzelanny make 30 starts and regain his status as a double digit-game winner.
48. See winning records and postseason berths in Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown, Auburn, Viera and the Dominican Republic.
49. Be present as Stephen Strasburg pitches in mid-September, a la Jordan Zimmermann in Sept. 2010.
50. Will Teddy win? I sure hope so! Maybe I’ll ask Todd Coffey if he can work with Teddy on the fine art of sprinting.
Again, please don’t hold back. Send in some of your own ideas.
Thanks so much for your time and continued enthusiasm for the Nationals.
17 more days until the opener…
I will be in touch again soon.
Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the Nats Spring Training home in Viera, Fla. Check back often for the latest updates
Good afternoon NatsTown. Time to quickly blog again leading into tonight’s game against the Astros here at Space Coast Stadium. Of course, we are on MASN the next 2 days, so I urge everyone to tune in and gain a glimpse of your 2011 Nationals.
If you can join us at Space Coast Stadium tonight, don’t be late. At 5:57 pm, NASA is launching a Delta 4 – NROL27 Rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral. So, it should be up in the air right around the time the National Anthem is played. Details on this rocket launch can be found here: http://spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html.
The winning ways have largely continued. Since my last entry, your Nationals are 2-1.
An 8-4 win on Wednesday at Florida was quickly followed by a 6-5 home victory over the Mets. Last night in Kissimmee, the Astros scored late to edge us, 6-5.
Let’s start with Wednesday in Jupiter. This really was our best game of the spring. As you might have guessed, the winning vibe began with the starting pitcher. Vintage Jason Marquis. His 4.0 scoreless innings included 3 strikeouts and, more importantly, a ton of ground balls. Marquis was followed by Todd Coffey, who was in control, striking out the side in the 5th inning. He has looked strong this spring. More strikeouts than you’d expect too. The bats matched the arms as we led, 7-0, after 7 innings. Danny Espinosa went 3-for-3 with a double, his second homer of the season and 4 RBI. Michael Morse had 2 more hits and a walk. Not much went wrong in this contest.
Thursday afternoon’s 6-5 victory had a familiar feel, that is until things got a tad hairy in the 9th inning. But no matter, as Tyler Clippard recorded the game’s final 2 outs to push the winning streak to 4. Chad Gaudin turned some heads with his start. In 5.0 scoreless innings, he struck out 6. Our 3-run first inning was highlighted by Adam LaRoche’s bags-loaded 2-run (automatic) double to center field. Adam’s ball would have been a grand slam in most parks, but a fierce cross wind knocked that ball down a bit.
I was not able to attend last night’s game at Houston, more good pitching from the arms of Collin Balester and Cole Kimball, who tossed 1.0 scoreless inning apiece. At the plate, Jerry Hairston had 3 hits in the loss. Can’t win them all.
I just had our PR official John Dever run the numbers on our starting pitchers through 12 games. In those 12 games to date, our 8 starters have combined on a 2.60 ERA, 12 walks and 32 strikeouts in 38.0 innings. I am quite sure that Mike Rizzo, Jim Riggleman, Steve McCatty, Teddy, Screech and our loyal and ever-growing fan base would gladly take those numbers over 162 games.
We know it is not that simple, but it is hard not to like what we are seeing. I get the feeling we have some pitching depth to work with. Let’s maintain some standard health and I think there is something to work with.
Looking toward next week, we are expecting ESPN and the good folks from Baseball Tonight to bring their bus to Viera and Space Coast Stadium on Tuesday, March 15. I cannot wait to ask Tim Kurkjian what it has been like living the life of John Madden for the last 3 weeks or so. No doubt that Big John put on hundreds of thousands of miles on his Madden Cruiser, but he never had to bunk with John Kruk! It will be good for the ESPN folks to get a first-hand look at our guys (even though we play that evening at the Mets).
As you read various season previews, you should be aware that most of the national baseball writers who choose to write about us do so after watching us play road games. Viera is a bit more isolated than most of the other camps in/around Florida (and Phoenix for that matter). Writers understandably like to cluster their visits. See 6 or 7 camps in a week. They like those types of ratios, as do their employers. This keeps travel costs down.
One of the flaws in this practice is that these writers rarely (if ever) get to see our “A” lineup unless they trek to Viera. At this juncture of the spring (we are nearing the midpoint), you will not see Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Nyjer Morgan, Pudge, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, etc. playing together on the road. And when you think about it, why would Jim Riggleman exhaust them? It does not make sense. Each of these guys will play in multiple road contests, but these road appearances are staggered for a reason.
So, I offer this info so that you gain some perspective when reading some of the season previews that are readily available all over the internet.
We are expecting a lot of fans and friends to visit us this weekend, mostly from DC. No doubt that Saturday’s Yankees game is a big drawing card. The weather looks good for tomorrow, sunny and in the mid-70s. Cannot wait.
I will be in touch early next week. Please have a great weekend…
Nationals Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner will be blogging throughout the 2011 Grapefruit League Season, giving Nats fans a unique perspective of the goings-on at the Nats Spring Training home in Viera, Fla. Check back often for the latest updates.
Thanks for stopping by NatsTown. I am writing today from Viera and in a few minutes I am set to take the 112-mile trek south to watch the Nats play the Marlins in Jupiter.
Well, glancing at the Grapefruit League standings, we are right at the top with a 6-3 record. Tied with the Braves (7-4) and Tigers (8-5). What does this mean? Some would say not much. We’ll take it, enjoy it and most importantly keep it in perspective. But it sure beats the alternative, right?
The baseball fan in me senses that the monotony that comes with Spring Training has officially set in. Workouts every morning. Games every day. You might say these are the Dog Days—not of July or August—but of March. Countdown to Opening Day…
But my eyes tell me differently!
Our guys are working hard, every day and seemingly every hour. There is a continued palpable intensity. Hundreds of ground balls courtesy of Dan Radison. Baserunning instruction from Bo Porter. Bullpen sessions with Steve McCatty. Extra-hitting with Rick Eckstein. Teaching moments from Davey Johnson and/or Pat Corrales. It does not end… well except for lunch around 11:15 a.m. or so. Then it is time to reinvigorate, to stretch, to play catch and get ready for the game at 1:05 p.m.
Jim Riggleman firmly believes that this will all pay off, and when you think about it, how can it not? All 58 players in our camp are committed to the pursuit of improved individual play within the scope of team-oriented baseball.
Since my last blog, your Nationals have pulled out a couple of wins: 14-9 over the Astros on Monday and a nicely-played 4-3 victory in 10 innings over the Mets yesterday at St. Lucie.
Saw plenty of power in yesterday’s win over the Mets as Michael Morse, Jerry Hairston and Brian Bixler all went deep. Saw plenty of rock-solid pitching from Jordan Zimmermann (3.0 scoreless innings, threw 93-94 mph), Brian Broderick (one run, 3.0 innings), Sean Burnett (1.0 scoreless inning) and Adam Carr (2.0 scoreless innings).
But what will I take away from St. Lucie yesterday? My first peek at one of our top prospects, Eury Perez! The young guy (21 years-old) has a lot going for him. He led off the 10th inning with an opposite-field single, then he swiped second with ease. Two batters later, Laynce Nix sent him home with the decisive run via a double. One of our pr guys, John Dever chatted with Ian Desmond, who told him that Eury is the “fastest player he had seen” since he became a pro. High praise indeed.
I am told Eury is a heck of an outfielder, he can hit (batted .345 in Dominican Winter League, .299 for Hagerstown last year) and he can run all day long (84 stolen bags in 2010 per my PR guys). I will keep an eye on his boxscores this summer via milb.com.
Monday’s win featured a trademark homer to right-center off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman and later a 9-run 8th inning that included two doubles from Bryce Harper. Don’t look now, Bryce is hitting .308 (4-for-13). He’s really holding his own against pitchers with 5 and sometimes 10 years of professional experience at their disposal. It sure is fun to dream about what is coming, isn’t it?
A lot has been made of our error total to date. Please note that only 7 have come from players who are seemingly certain to make the Opening Day roster. We are going to be much improved this summer defensively. Remember, the hard work has not stopped, won’t stop and will pay off.
Tomorrow we have our lone split squad action of the spring. Afternoon game against the Mets in Viera followed by a night game in Kissimmee against the Astros. I am told that we will face A.J. Burnett on Saturday when the Yankees visit Viera. Challenges abound.
Thanks for your time and continued interest in the ballclub. Only 22 more days until Opening Day!
I’ll be in touch again soon …
Good afternoon NatsTown. Yet another picturesque morning in Viera. Looking forward to hosting the Astros today at Space Coast Stadium.
Before we delve into baseball talk, many of our fans who have made the trip down to Spring Training have been stopping by before and after games to say “hello.”
Please know, we love seeing you all and want to impress on everyone just how much we appreciate your never-ending support of the Nationals. It does not go unnoticed.
We are just coming off a big Grapefruit League weekend, including Sat.’s 10-8 victory in a slugfest over the Yankees. It is always interesting to play the Yankees, always fun to beat the Yankees. With 27 World Championships, they are the standard against which teams measure themselves. Sure, we know Saturday’s win came in a Grapefruit League contest and we did not face some of their star players.
But our lineup fared well against C.C. Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain, two mainstays of their rotation and bullpen, respectively. Ryan Zimmerman (2 doubles, 2 RBI) and Ian Desmond (2 hits, RBI) both appeared to be in midseason form. And what a thrill for Jeff Frazier, who grew up in New Jersey, to homer against his hometown Bronx Bombers. And with family and friends in the stands? Great story for Jeff.
Despite some daunting skies in the late morning, we hosted a huge and boisterous crowd of 6,250 on Sunday at Space Coast Stadium. That made for a fun atmosphere reminiscent of a regular-season game. Kenny G. performed a rendition of the National Anthem that culminated with a 60-second note near the end of the tune. Everyone was simply wowed by the performance. I won’t forget it.
Although our bats stalled against the Braves, I think it is fair to say that Ross Detwiler’s superb outing is the key performance going forward. Ross looked very strong as he struck out 5 in 3.0 scoreless innings. And this was a Braves lineup that featured the vast majority of their big names (Heyward, Chipper, Uggla, Prado). I know Steve McCatty was beaming afterwards about the outing.
Don’t look now, but Detwiler, Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, Yunesky Maya and Jordan Zimmermann have combined to allow just one earned run in 16.0 innings this spring. These performances are in stark contrast to last spring, when the majority of our pitching staff struggled in Florida. So, things appear to be trending in the right direction on the pitching front. Oh, and those numbers do not include 4.0 businesslike innings out of Livan in a Minor League game yesterday. I could watch Livan pitch anywhere, anytime. After his start yesterday, Livan told me that he was pleased, especially compared with his first start, during which he did not feel like he was in synch.
Scary moment Sunday when Wilson Ramos was struck by a foul tip. He is alright, but it gave us all pause for a minute or so there as he was being tended to by our athletic training staff. Wilson is a special talent who is going to help our pitchers, our lineup and our defense. He can really throw and he has some power in that bat. And he is still learning. There is not much that Wilson cannot do on the baseball field.
I took a few calls late yesterday from family and friends in DC and the F. P. Santangelo reviews were all positive. We are happy to have F.P. and his family on board for 2011 and beyond. It is great to have all our broadcasters—Bob Carpenter, Charlie Slowes, Dave Jageler, Debbi Taylor—on the ground with us here in Viera.
Quick reminder that MASN will telecast two games next weekend, Friday vs. Houston (6:00 pm) and Saturday vs. NY Yankees (1:00 pm).
I am also pleased to say that Saturday’s game against the Yankees is sold out. Should be fun. I will be in touch again soon.