Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Space Coast Stadium is abuzz with activity today.
Pitchers and catchers reporting day has arrived, as has your trusty beat writer. Flew in last night, drove over to Viera this morning and just finished my first sweep through the Nationals clubhouse.
The first thing I noticed: the new practice jerseys, which are a very deep hue of red with blue piping. They kind of look like the Capitals' uniforms. Sharp. I'll have some photos later today.
The second thing I noticed: There appear to be fewer lockers than in years past. Usually, the Nats have had to set up some temporary lockers in the middle of the clubhouse for the first several weeks of camp to accommodate all of the non-roster invitees. "Survivor Island," as clubhouse manager Mike Wallace termed it.
Well, with only 61 players in camp this spring, Wally was able to squeeze everyone into the two permanent rows of lockers that run down each side of the clubhouse. It opens the place up. It also provides a clear view of the HDTV that's hanging at one end of the room, which may have had something to do with the new configuration.
There do, however, appear to be fewer non-roster invitees than in the past, when upwards of 70 players have been in camp. In fact, I only spotted three guys with jersey numbers in the 70s: Josh Wilkie (70), Jonathan Van Every (71) and Jeff Frazier (72).
Several number changes to report. Collin Balester has given up 99 and gone to the more conventional 23. Michael Morse has switched to 38 (because Jayson Werth's contract actually stipulates he gets No. 28). Chris Marrero, who in previous camps has owned a very high number, is all the way down to 14 now.
The most notable change, though, might be Drew Storen, who is now wearing No. 22. Amazingly, it's the sixth different uniform number he's worn on a Nats jersey in 20 months. Let's recap: Upon getting drafted and signed, Storen was introduced in a No. 26 jersey. When he played in the Florida instructional league in 2009, he wore 38. Then he went to the Arizona Fall League, where he wore 17. Upon reaching the majors last summer, he wore 58. Early in the offseason, he decided to switch to 25, which he wore at the new uniform unveiling in November. But then the Nationals signed Adam LaRoche, who has always worn 25 and used his seniority to take the number back, leaving Storen searching for yet another new number.
Storen likes 22, but he feel bad for anyone who bought No. 25 jerseys after the uniform unveiling, since those are now obsolete. He's hoping to find a way to help those people either get a refund or at least a discount on new No. 22 jerseys. He would like to set up some kind of event where anyone who bought a No. 25 jersey can show up and get his autograph.
OK, since early arrivals are starting to trickle out onto the practice fields, I'm going to head down there and see what's going on. Jim Riggleman is scheduled to speak at noon, so check back in a little while for the manager's thoughts, as well as plenty more from the first official day of spring training...