Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"It's their clubhouse"

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jason Marquis will start the fourth game of the exhibition season.
VIERA, Fla. -- Jim Riggleman spent some time this morning behind closed doors with a handful of key players off his roster: Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, among others.

The purpose of those meetings: To take suggestions from those players about clubhouse guidelines Riggleman wants to have in place for the upcoming season. The manager said he'll have a few hard-and-fast rules that are "non-negotiable," but he doesn't want to be the one determining everything for a group of 25 men significantly younger than him.

"I want their input on it," Riggleman said. "It's their clubhouse."

Every team is required by MLB to submit some clubhouse standards to league headquarters, so this isn't necessarily something new the Nationals are doing. But there have already been a few occasions this spring in which you've gotten the sense there is a slightly changed dynamic in the Nats clubhouse, a more professional tone that's coming more from the players than the staff.

Riggleman wants his veteran leaders to handle things from within a bit more than has been the case in the past. If one player isn't giving complete effort, another should be comfortable enough to let that teammate know it won't be accepted and not simply rely on the manager or a coach to do it.

Riggleman isn't real keen on the idea of designating an official team captain. He prefers to spread those kind of responsibilities out among several players, and it's interesting to note that it's not only veterans he sees as key members of this process. Desmond only has one full season in the majors, but the young shortstop is already viewed by club officials as something of a clubhouse leader.

In other news this Wednesday morning...

-- The starting rotation for the first four games of the exhibition season is set. Chad Gaudin starts Monday's opener against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, followed by Livan Hernandez Tuesday against the Mets here in Viera. John Lannan will start the third game next Wednesday against the Marlins in Viera, with Jason Marquis starting the following day against the Cardinals in Jupiter.

-- Though Riggleman has been impressed with the progress he's seen Chien-Ming Wang make in bullpen sessions, the manager isn't sure yet when Wang will be ready to pitch in exhibition games. The club still needs to see more of the rehabbing right-hander before making that determination.

-- Because of two off-days in the regular season's first five days, the club likely won't need it's No. 5 starter until Saturday, April 9 (the eighth game of the season). That could open up another roster spot for a bench player or extra reliever for the season's first week.

29 comments:

The Joker said...

Beer and a shot after each win.

J Werth said...

I am the straw that stirs the drink.

N. Cognito said...

Red Carpet Rewards Program Info is online.

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ticketing/rewards.jsp?partnerId=ed-4443774-187423896

natsfan1a said...

Well, seeing as how NC did a link, just noticed that the team site has a ST broadcast schedule up (including radio; MLBN is MLB Network):

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/schedule/broadcast/index.jsp?c_id=was

Steve M. said...

Glad to see the confidence in Desmond. Changing the dynamics of the team with new players and guys that want to seize the opportunity makes for a new level of energy that this team has needed.

Winning is a mindset and some of the decisions like getting rid of players that didn't fit in like Maxwell have shown me that Rizzo may be changing to "need to win now" mode.

I think even Nyjer knows the mindset has changed and this is a good thing for the team and for Nyjer because it has to be sink or swim.

Anonymous said...

Mark (or anyone that's heard) - What's the status of the WJFK radio deal??

Thanks,
Natslifer

Ian D said...

Sorry, guys, for sailing that throw twenty feet over LaRoche's head. Hope the little girl in the stands is okay.

Anonymous said...

Why does Desmond get a say? I thought respect was earned not given!!?? This is a guy who has languished in the Nats system and made more errors at SS than most teams do in a season..c'mon he may be in the minors or in another organization by the All-Star Break. I think Livo should set the rules, he embodies the Nats and professionalism!

Steve M. said...

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2011/02/23/adam-wainwright-may-have-significant-elbow-injury-returns-to/

I just moved the Brewers in my projection to the NL Central winners.

PAY TO PLAY said...

Anon @ 11:10, Livan is a short timer here and seems to be more interested in himself than the team.

He is a likeable guy but come on, all the players know Livan is out for Livan.

NatsJack in Florida said...

The pitching lineup tends to indicate that Zimmermann may start on Friday. It will be interesting to see if Gorzelanny gets used in relief in the first 5 days.

Theophilus said...

Could it be possible that Desmond has earned respect by busting his ass on every play and every at bat, even if he puts a couple in the dugout?

If management thinks he's a clubhouse leader then it's because they've seen it, not because they want it. The comment from Anonymous was a cheap, unwarranted shot.

Theophilus said...

The other Anonymous was way out of line, too. Livan is so much for Livan that he took about a tenth of the money for this season that Scott Boras would have demanded.

NatinBeantown said...

I think Desmond is a guy who is competitive and quite naturally feels instincts to motivate/reprove others on effort. On a team of more passive locker room guys like Dunn and (until recently) Zimmerman, Desmond stepped into a leadership void last year. This is to his credit. He absolutely deserves a seat at the table in determining the official locker room standards, because he'll certainly be be setting the unofficial standards on his own.

Sunderland said...

Theo / Beantown, right on.
Huge cheap shot on Livo.

NatsJack in Florida said...

That's why they post as anonymous. Theophilus nailed it with the Livo and money issue. Livo could have commanded three times what he signed for and he signed at his own request.
And Desmond has worked longer than anyone in the organization to become an everday player.
Riggleman knows who the professionals are.

Nattydread said...

Agree totally RE Livan. The man is class.

Pay To Play: Read up on Livan's contract negotiation. He by-passed his agent, wrote his figure ($1M) on a piece of paper, handed it to Rizzo.

All this AFTER Rizzo made him wait, AFTER he had a great year.

Steve M. said...

I don't agree with those that think Livan could have received more elsewhere at least for the long run. Greg Genske is his agent who is the same shark that represents Adam Dunn.

Livan wants a job as a starter and longevity in the league which the Nats have given him. It is called "a bird in the hand instead of 2 in the bush". If Livan does well here, he may get another deal next season which would be a lot better than signing for more somewhere else and DFA's like the Mets did to him.

PAY TO PLAY said...

MLB Network says Livan Hernandez was named the starter for Opening Day for the Nats. If true, that is the ultimate respect.

He may not be a clubhouse leader but he is certainly respected as a player. I don't think those have to be mutually inclusive as has been discussed over the years with Ryan Zimmerman.

Remember, not everyone wants to be the clubhouse leader.

Pilchard said...

When is Jordan Zimmerman expected to make his Spring Training debut?

Theophilus said...

Let me add this about Desmond to follow up on what NatsJack said. Desmond played at every level of the organization, including with a lot of guys who are on the team or will be on the team in a year or so. He's a leader because those players know him, know what he expects of himself and others. That's exactly why Harper needs to go through the minors experience, not whoosh up to DC just because he can get a bat on the ball one out of every four swings. The players he works side by side with in Hagerstown, Potomac and Harrisburg are going to be arriving in DC in two or three years and when they do the organization wants them to be Musketeers together for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he was "among others" but I thought Pudge was brought in to be a clubhouse leader? If he was not in the meeting does this speak to the role he is expected to have with the team this year?

markfd said...

@ N Cognito

Thanks for posting the Red Carpet Rewards link!

PAY TO PLAY said...

You would think Pudge was called in as clearly he is a clubhouse leader. If JFlores is back to form, (fortunately/unfortunately) the Nats won't have 3 catchers on the 25 man so at some point someone has to go.

Also, if JFlo/Ramos are the future catching tandem, can JFlo show he can stay healthy for a full season?

Piero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Metro CEO Richard Sarles said...

Someone should tell the Nats clubhouse leaders that if they want to implement a random man purse search policy for clubhouse entry, they can get a grant from Homeland Security to fund it.

(Warning: Homeland Security funds may not be used to support defense of any potential lawauits over civil rights or privacy violations filed by MLBPA.)

N. Cognito said...

Some RCR info not on the page but in the e-mail I received:

Points can be transferred to season ticket partners, friends, families, N. Cognito, etc.

You'll be able to exchange points online

Redemption requests will be concluded more quickly than last year

K.D. said...

The "among others" Mark referred to probably included Livo and Pudge, since they are considered a given. I assume Mark mentioned the new/young guys because they are just that new or young. Denotes respect. In the case of Desmond, he proved he was a leader last year to anyone who counts, his boss and teammates. Any slam against Livo is just silly, the guy is class all the way.

Anonymous said...

Rule #1: No small man purses on team planes.

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