Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Matt Capps impressed during his live BP session today.
Let's start with Matt Capps, who has quickly established himself as a must-see guy in these sessions, again overwhelmed the batters who dug in against him. Chris Duncan got buzzed by a high-and-tight heater and had to back away for a moment to compose himself. Moments later, Mike Morse absolutely froze on a slider that started out inside but wound up whizzing right through the strike zone. You never want to get too excited about these performances, but it would certainly appear Capps is determined to prove his worth after getting non-tendered by the Pirates in December.
John Lannan was his usual self, unspectacular but efficient in his session against Willie Harris, Cristian Guzman, Elijah Dukes and Jamie Burke. His curveball especially looked sharp.
Ron Villone isn't the type of pitcher who's going to blow anyone away, certainly not at age 40, but the ol' lefty still has some tricks in his book. He sawed one of Adam Dunn's bats in half with an inside fastball, leaving the slugger with nothing but a shard of knob and handle left his hands.
Brian Bruney is one of the more-entertaining pitchers to watch, because he gets really animated when he's on the mound. The right-hander had a dominant session, with the exception of perhaps one pitch that missed its intended target. That one pitch, though, left Bruney screaming a string of expletives that all ran together into one not-for-print outburst. If he's like this on March 1, what's he going to be like on May 1?
Finally, Drew Storen took his place on the mound and proceeded to warm up. His first pitch traveled perhaps 54 feet. The group of hitters, including Nyjer Morgan and Adam Kennedy, looked at each other as if to say: "Uh, why don't you go first. I don't want any part of that." Storen did immediately find his groove, though, and the rookie proceeded to put on a display that left several guys raving. "You don't even need to quote me," said Morgan, who had one of his bats shattered on a sharp-sinking two-seamer. "What he did spoke for itself."
Storen, who as a rookie in his first camp obviously has never faced big-league hitters before, relishes these opportunities to throw live BP.
"It's awesome," he said. "I like doing that so much better than throwing a bullpen. Because for me, it doesn't really matter how I feel. I feel fine every day. But there's no substitute for a hitter's reaction. Seeing a guy swing or seeing how they're hitting a ball and tracking it, there's no substitute for that. ... Especially guys like Nyjer Morgan and Adam Kennedy. Those are hard lefties to get out, and I need that."
Meanwhile, the random clubhouse sighting of the day was Carlos Baerga, the former All-Star second baseman and pinch-hitter/mascot of the 2005 Nationals. Baerga, who now does color commentary for ESPN Deportes, was one of the most-popular guys on that inaugural team and turned that clubhouse into a merengue-rocking party every time the Nats won. I still crack up every time I think of him getting those legs pumping out of the batter's box after making contact. Always reminded me of Fred Flintstone starting up his car.
One other note for those who were concerned the Nats are providing unhealthy food after I mentioned the spreads purchased recently by million-dollar club members Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman: They make a point to get healthy stuff. Indeed, today's spread, purchased by clubhouse manager Mike Wallace (not a member of the million-dollar club), included grilled chicken, whole-wheat pasta, broccoli and asparagus.