Friday, February 19, 2010

Players trickling in

VIERA, Fla. -- Good morning from Space Coast Stadium, where it is officially reporting day for pitchers and catchers. This is always a bit of a misnomer, though, because all it means is that all pitchers and catchers must either a) show up at the ballpark or b) call someone with the team to inform that they will be arriving sometime soon. It's really one of the least-formal days of the spring.

Everyone takes physicals tomorrow, then first real workout will take place Sunday morning. That said, plenty of these guys who show up today will take the fields for some informal work, so hopefully we'll get a look at a few of them.

Just finished my first sweep through the clubhouse and was greeted by a handful of guys, including Jesus Flores, Drew Storen, Ron Villone, Ryan Speier, Josh Whitesell, Joel Peralta and probably a couple more that I'm forgetting at the moment.

Spent some time chatting with Flores, who is obviously looking forward to being back on the field and in uniform after missing most of last season with that shoulder injury. At the same time, he knows the worst thing he could right now is rush back too quickly, lest he suffer a similar fate to last year. (Remember, he fractured his shoulder in early May when he was struck by a foul ball. Then, while rehabbing later in the summer, he began experiencing pain in the shoulder, which was later discovered to be the result of torn labrum.)

Flores really hopes not to have to start the season on the DL, but he said if it's necessary, he'll do it. He's been throwing a lot, building the muscle back up. And he's swung the bat three or four times so far. Basically, he wants a fresh start after all the difficulties last year. And that includes one significant change: His uniform number.

For the first time since he joined the Nats in 2007, Flores won't be wearing No. 3. He's switched to No. 26. Why? Because that's the number he used to wear before he ever came to Washington, both in Venezuela and in the Mets' farm system. He wanted to keep it when he arrived in D.C. as a rookie, but Wily Mo Pena already had it to himself. So Flores took No. 3, and was happy with the success he had wearing it. Still, he said, it never felt right hearing the PA announcer belt out: "Now batting, number three, Jesus Flores!" And with the Weapon of Minimal Production no longer around, he went to clubhouse manager Mike Wallace and asked if he could switch to No. 26 at last.

Some other new numbers of note, either holdover guys who switched or new guys to the team...

Jerry Owens -- 3
Ivan Rodriguez -- 7
Eric Bruntlett -- 10
Eddie Guardado -- 18
Jason Marquis -- 21
Tyler Walker -- 25
Willy Taveras -- 29
Brian Bruney -- 32
Chris Duncan -- 38
Chien-Ming Wang -- 40
Miguel Batista -- 43
Drew Storen -- 58
Collin Balester -- 99 (I'm definitely going to need to dig deeper into this one)

OK, back to the clubhouse to see who else has reported. Jim Riggleman meets with us at 11 a.m. Chien-Ming Wang press conference at noon. Plenty more to come.

26 comments:

Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

Collin Balester -- 99 (I'm definitely going to need to dig deeper into this one)

Balester is the Bill Lee of his generation. What we really want to know is the state of his 'stache.

Andrew said...

Cool story on the Flores number change! Thanks!

MikeHarris said...

What do I do with my "3" Flores t-shirt!! These guys are like NASCAR, thinking of ways to drag more money out of my pocket.

markfd said...

Mark,

Thanks for the number update. As for our new #99, Balester is sick of having his number claimed by veterans (Cabrera and Wang took 40 from him), so my guess he he feels safe that the Nats are not going to sign Gretzky or trade for ManRam anytime soon.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for the updates, Mark. Also, I enjoyed your inaugural email with the first podcast. Thanks much for that!

Going back a bit, wasn't 38 Majewski's number, and 26 Byrd's, or am I misremembering?

Re. Balester as Lee, I think he's got the flakiness down, but IMO he has a ways to go to approach the Spaceman's status in other areas.

LoveDaNats said...

@Mike Harris
After my wilkinson, johnson and kearns jerseys became obsolete, my husband got me a Nats jersey with my OWN name on it. Good to go :)

markfd said...

Majewski was 38 and Byrd 26 good memory natsfan1a!

Anonymous said...

I'm in the same boat, Mike. My #3 Flores bp jersey is now obsolete!

An Briosca Mor said...

26 is a loser number. Besides WMP, it's also sported by Teddy. Someone should have warned Flores about this.

Traveler8 said...

What I get a kick out of jersey-wise is fans wearing players' older jerseys - saw a lot of Cincinnati Dunn shirts last summer, and I think we will see a lot of Wang/Yankee and Pudge/various shirts this year.

An Briosca Mor said...

7 is also a loser number for the Nats, having been sported by Nook Logan and Emilio Bonifacio among others. Someone should have warned Pudge.

Traveler8 said...

I think Pudge makes his own luck, so I'm not worried.

Anonymous said...

Ya Balester is using style to compensate for lack of ability.

greg said...

curious, has anyone else tried to copy/paste into the comment box here? for some reason, i can't actually paste into the comment box (running firefox).

Kenz aFan said...

I don't think Balester needs to worry too much about what number he'll wear with the Nats, because until be adds another out pitch to two he has now, his becoming a regular Major League starter is not going to happen. He needs to stop talking, bragging and promoting that God awful ugly mustache and focus on his trade. He's more a distraction than an attraction. If he was a hockey player, he'd never be able to get to work, because his head's too big. If he wants number 40, then kill the mustache and focus on improving his skills. Crying how this or that mean old veteran player took his number reeks of a spoiled child.

Jenn Jenson said...

Ugh! Well, I will continue to wear my #3 Flores jersey.

NatsNut said...

Kenz,
A little harsh on Balestar, don't you think? Where did you hear that Balestar CRIED about anything? He just picked a number that wouldn't be taken again.

And I never got the impression that he has a big head at all. He's just a cut-up, even when his pitching sorta stinks. It's just his personality and I'd be willing to bet he has no illusions that anything other than better pitching is going to get him in the bigs for good.

natsfan1a said...

greg, I've been able to cut and paste (and post) using IE. I was not able to post comments at all using Firefox.

Anonymous said...

Anybody else have an official Nook Logan "7" Nationals shirt? I found my at Marshalls. The rest probably went to some poor nation in Asia.

The great Charlie Slowes' greatest Nats call:

"Now the set, here’s the pitch… Swing and a GROUNDBALL! Flagged by Borowski! He throws home, and that’s all they’ll get.

"… Now ROUNDING THIRD, Logan!?! WHAT IS HE DOING?

"The throw to third - He’s out and the game is over!

"WHAT was Nook Logan THINKING? WHAT was he WATCHING? WHERE was he GOING?

"I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! He’s out, it turns out to be a double play, and the game is over!

(7 seconds of silence)

"THAT is shocking. Unbelievable!"

SonnyG10 said...

Mark,

What a blessing to have your coverage at spring training. I enjoy your blog reports and I very much enjoyed your first audio via email. Keep it coming.

greg said...

what's odd is i ended up restarting firefox for something and now i can paste into the comment box. weird.

natsfan1a said...

Pay no attention to the person sitting at the keyboard. Just trying something with a different browser here. ;-)

cass said...

32 is Cordero's old number... I wonder if Bruney is trying to say something about the role he wants?

It's a pity Storen didn't get it, though, since he had been a fan of Cordero. Plus, we all know he's going to be in the closer's role within a year...

natsfan1a said...

Good call re. Cordero's number. Seeing as how Chief was something of a mentor for him, would have been cool to see Drew to get it.

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