Results tagged ‘ Matt Stairs ’

Day 10 in Viera: 2011 MASN Commercials

Another hot one in Viera today. Temps in the low 80s. Unending sun. I wonder how hot things are for the teams stationed in South Florida, like the Marlins, Cardinals, Red Sox and Twins? My guess is that it is pretty steamy.

Observations from around Space Coast Stadium and the Nationals Training Complex:

* Matt Stairs is a marvel.  His short, compact, yet powerful stroke is tailor made for a pinch hitter. But even beyond his swing, he has the main prerequisite that almost all the great pinch-hitters share: he is a left-handed hitter. Since 1974, only 10 players have amassed 100+ pinch hits. Nine of those 10 are left-handed batters, with the exception being Jose Morales (120 PH from 1974-84). Why is it tough to find a really good right-handed pinch hitter? Likely because most relief pitchers are right-handed, so manager’s are less apt to “waste” a roster spot on a guy to match up against southpaw relievers. Interesting stuff when you think about it.  

* In the dying days of the offseason, some old files from RFK were unearthed from a storage area in/around Nationals Park. One of the boxes contained a bunch of old Expos files, scorebooks and newspaper clippings. Most were from the late 80s and early 90s. Upon glancing through them, we found Matt Stairs’ first big league contract, which was dated March 5, 1992. His salary for the season was $11,000. We showed him the contract today and he got a kick out of it. Stairs’ reply was “11-grand. Wow. This is really cool.”

* Side story–we arranged for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to pick up the box of the old Expos’ clippings. They were very excited to see their new bounty.

* MASN is in town today shooting a series of new commercials for the 2011 season. The Nationals’ new uniforms (video) may have had a hand in prompting the new video shoots. I know MASN has put a lot of time and energy into these new commercials, as there are over 100 folks on the crew.

* Welcome to Viera RHP Elvin Ramirez, who arrived today from the Dominican Republic after experiencing some visa issues. There is great hope that Elvin will be joined by RHP Henry Rodriguez tomorrow. Rodriguez was one of two players acquired from the A’s in exchange for OF Josh Willingham. Rodriguez’s fastball has been known to hit triple digits, so we are all anxious to see his power on display.

* In Clearwater, Fla. today, the Phillies played the first “game” of the Grapefruit League season as they squared off against the Florida State Seminoles. If the Phillies win, do they clinch the ACC Championship? Anyhow, it is good to know that there are nine innings being played somewhere nearby. Can you tell we are anxious for Monday’s opener at the Mets.

* FYI, Jim Riggleman told the media here today that he will try to get Bryce Harper an at-bat in Monday’s opener.

* Book Club: Stephen Strasburg is currently reading Dirk Hayhurst’s “The Bullpen Gospels.” He is enjoying it. You can read more about the book here.

* Let’s close with our “4 Questions” segment. Today’s victim was outfielder Laynce Nix:

Favorite Team/Player as a Youth?: Rangers, Don Mattingly (Donnie Ballgame was pretty popular, huh? Him and Griffey Jr.)

Favorite Game Show of all-time?: None (not a fan!)

Favorite Superhero?: Batman (another popular answer)

Most apt to watch CNN, Food Network or Travel Channel (and list favorite show)?: I am going off the grid. Golf Channel. I enjoy “Lessons with the Pros.” (Nix is a five to seven handicap, so he can swing it a little)

Off to watch the Space Shuttle launch. See you all tomorrow. And remember to follow us on twitter @NationalsPR.

Day 9 in Viera: Clippard, Stairs Face Off in Live BP

Hello everyone. Thanks for joining us again. I must say, I am enjoying the blogging experience. Very therapeutic. It’s helping to structure my day and, somehow, it is allows me to whittle off the days until our Grapefruit League opener – only five more days to go. Is it Monday, Feb. 28 yet?

Speaking of next Monday, let’s remember that Mark Lerner will make his 2011 blogging debut that afternoon right here at Curly “W” Live. So don’t stray too far.

Here is what we saw today on campus …

* The umpires met with Nationals players. Speaking on behalf of the umps today was umpire supervisor Rich Rieker. The meeting took about an hour. Topics generally include the rules and gentle reminders. In the past, they’ve addressed uniform regulations/etiquette. As far as I know, no one was ejected from the meeting, so that is a step in the wrong direction.

* Also on hand today was a group from the MLB Players Association. They were in Viera to make heads roll. Well, sort of. The MLBPA has a hand in certain video games that they sanction. What they came to capture today was head scans of some of our young players. The head scan took between 5-10 minutes and captured such features as profile, facial hair, head size and hair. I am not a big “gamer,” but I have seen some of the games and the players’ likenesses are lifelike. Let’s just say that if Bryce Harper does by chance debut with the Nationals in 2011, you will see Harper’s video-game likeness with a grown-in faux-hawk.

* Look for excellent Strasburg and Harper interviews tonight on FOX 5 and NBC 4, as Dave Feldman and Dan Helle were in town for their respective stations. Kudos should also go out to CSN Washington, which allocated funds and resources to Kelli Johnson and her photog Mitch to spend eight days in our camp. We hope you have enjoyed their coverage of the Nationals.

* Live BP story of the day… Matt Stairs stepped into the cage facing Tyler Clippard. No, “Peaches” could not be heard, but upon fouling off Clippard’s initial offering, Stairs stepped out of the batter’s box and disclosed, “that was the first time I have made contact against [Clippard] in four years.” Everyone had a good laugh. Then upon retreating back to the office, we looked up the Clippard-Stairs matchup. The two have squared off three times, with Stairs going 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout. Yes, there was some hyperbole in Stairs’ declaration, but that provides us a glimpse of what goes on in these types of settings. Humor can trump fact. And that is okay. That is how team chemistry is born.

* On the Minor League side, Bob Boone and Doug Harris held their first meeting of the spring today with all of their coordinators, instructors, administrators, managers and coaches. From my seat, these are baseball’s true vanguards. Folks, the gentlemen do what they do with little, if any, fanfare. Think about it. Their places of work and job requirements call for summers in small towns, long bus rides, bad fast food, cheap motels and exposure to teenagers, sometimes 30 at a time! Months at a time away from their families. Sure, ardent baseball fans know that there is a certain romance that goes with Minor League baseball. But there is little fanfare and adulation that goes with these positions. Just a burning passion for the game, to make young players better and to be part of the machine that is a Big League ballclub.

* Hairdo alert: sources indicate Jayson Werth may be cutting his hair in the coming days. We shall see how this plays out.

* This is Sr. Assistant of Player Development Pat Corrales’ 53rd Spring Training. Is there a more remarkable factoid from our camp than that?

* Just got word that Nationals radio voice Charlie Slowes will be in Viera this weekend. Charlie’s arrival always spices things up for us.

* Let’s close with our “4 Questions” segment. Today’s victim was right-handed reliever Adam Carr:

Favorite Team/Player as a Youth?: Mariners, Ken Griffey Jr. (Griffey was pretty popular, huh?)

Favorite Game Show of all-time?: Family Feud (Richard Dawson is the man!)

Favorite Superhero?: Superman (this answer did not roll off his tongue)

Most apt to watch CNN, Food Network or Travel Channel (and list favorite show)?: Discovery Channel. Has enjoyed many episodes of Man vs. Wild.

* Great weather today, high was around 76 or so. More picture-perfect weather tomorrow. More to come, so be sure to visit again.

* Special thanks, as always to Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna. For those interested in perhaps more timely updates from Viera, please follow us on Twitter (@NationalsPR).

* Oh, almost forgot, we will very much look forward to the 39th and final flight of space shuttle Discovery tomorrow afternoon. Read more about that here:

Day 8 in Viera: Position Players Join the Fray

Busiest day yet at Nationals camp as position players today
joined the fray.


* Have you ever wanted to work in baseball? If yes, let me
give you a bit of advice. If anyone ever offers you the job of coordinating a
Spring Training camp, say “no way” and run in the opposite direction. How tough
is that gig? I have heard the two toughest jobs in the game are being the
Rockies’ pitching coach before the advent of the baseball humidor and being a
Spring Training coordinator. That’s why today I would like to give kudos to
Bobby Henley, who doubles as our Minor League Field Coordinator. Henley is a
heck of a guy with a deep-rooted passion for the game of baseball and how it
should be played. If you or your place of business ever needs of motivator,
this is your guy. I have heard him speak to the young Instructional Leaguers
and by the time he was finished, I was ready to run through the wall and I am
just the PR guy. Henley has taken the unenviable task of plotting, planning and
orchestrating the movements from drill to drill. He has to enact the vision
that Jim Riggleman lays out for these two weeks leading into games. Henley does
it well and he is a pleasure to deal with. But remember, you do NOT want his


* Crazy but true fact of the week… this is Livan Hernandez’s
10th Spring Camp in Viera, Fla. Yes, 10! Here’s a list of the springs that
Hernandez spent in Viera and with what teams: Marlins (1996, ’97, ’98, ’99),
Expos (2003, ’04), Nationals (2005, ’06, ’10 and ’11). Is he eligible to run
for Mayor?


* With an abundance of young players trying to make their
mark and earn a coveted roster spot, one player that the next generation
Nationals can draw inspiration from is Chad Gaudin. Gaudin was drafted in June
2001 by Tampa Bay and debuted with the (then) Devil Rays just 26 months later.
What’s the big deal you ask? Well, Chad was a 34
th-round draft pick out
of Crescent High in Metairie, La. So, he debuted in the Big Leagues, as an
unheralded 34
th-rounder, at the age of 20. That
is a rare, rare story.


* Interesting fundamental drill of the day: 3B coach Bo
Porter is the Nationals’ primary outfield instructor. He had Jayson Werth,
Nyjer Morgan, Bryce Harper and others chasing long fly balls today while
carrying a football! I missed speaking to Porter after the workout, but I think
the drill’s objective is to keep an outfielder’s core as motionless as possible
while pursuing those long fly balls. Porter’s a fantastic instructor and a
great addition to Jim Riggleman’s staff. He definitely knows football too. He
was a two-sport (baseball, football) athlete at the University of Iowa, where
he was Hayden Fry’s starting cornerback in the 1992 Rose Bowl.


* Fans on hand today also spied the first live batting
practice of the spring. Yes, pitchers actually threw to hitters. Most hitters
do a bunch of watching, in fact, Jayson Werth indicated he may not have swung
at all. Conversely, Matt Stairs swung and went deep during his live BP.



* Book Club: Stanford
alum Drew Storen is currently reading “
Scorecasting,” which is written by University of Chicago financial economist Tobias Moskowitz
and Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim. Together, they attempt to
unearth “the hidden forces that shape how basketball, baseball, football, and
hockey games are played, won and lost.” Sounds like an intriguing read.


* Let’s close with our “4 Questions” segment. Today’s victim
was pitcher Tom Gorzelanny:


Favorite Team/Player
as a Youth?:

White Sox, Ken Griffey Jr. (Huh? He played for the Cubs last year, wonder how
that little nugget was received in the Windy City

Favorite Game Show of all-time?: Wheel of Fortune (who doesn’t love

Favorite Superhero?: Batman (interesting answer from a pitcher, don’t you think?)

Most apt to watch CNN, Food Network or Travel Channel (and list favorite

None of the above. I am much more likely to be checking The History Channel and
looking for a show on the government (CIA, Secret Service, etc.) or war


* Again, I’d like to acknowledge the multiple contributions
of my PR confidants, Mike Gazda and Bill Gluvna. And as a reminder, we are
anxiously awaiting the return of Mark Lerner to the blogging airwaves. Look for
Mark to reemerge on Mon., Feb. 28.


We’ll be back tomorrow with more. Cannot wait.