Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gio tries to learn from ragged start

US Presswire photo
Gio Gonzalez was roughed up for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings today.
JUPITER, Fla. -- Gio Gonzalez's cringe-worthy start this afternoon -- he allowed eight runs on 10 hits and four walks in only 3 2/3 innings against the Cardinals -- could have been attributed to any number of factors.

Gonzalez may have been dealing with some "dead arm" issues, not uncommon at this stage of spring training. He may have been unfamiliar with St. Louis' lineup and how to approach each batter. He may even have been hindered by his first plate appearance of the year.

Whatever the reason, Gonzalez could take some solace in this fact: At least it happened on March 22, not April 22.

"I'm not going to overload on today and thinking process," the left-hander said afterward. "It's just one of those days. You look forward, and that's it. What happened, it's done."

What happened on a hot and sunny day at Roger Dean Stadium, though, wasn't pretty. Gonzalez labored from the moment he took the mound. Actually, he sensed a rough afternoon ahead while he was still warming up in the bullpen and noticed all of his pitches were up in the strike zone.

"You start telling yourself: 'Now we're going to have to work today,'" Gonzalez said.

The Nationals' No. 2 starter managed to escape the first two innings without suffering major damage, but things began to unravel in the third when he allowed a double to Carlos Beltran, walked Matt Holliday and then gave up a two-run single to Yadier Molina.

Then came the complete meltdown in the bottom of the fourth, in which Gonzalez retired only one of the first eight batters he faced. And that one out came via a sacrifice bunt. The big blow was a two-run homer by Tyler Greene, but two more doubles and two more walks were sprinkled in for good measure.

Under normal circumstances, manager Davey Johnson would have pulled his starter sooner. But it was more important that Gonzalez reached a pitch count of 85, so he remained in the game, suffering more abuse before Johnson finally summoned for reliever Ryan Mattheus to record the final out of the fourth.

"Not real sharp, not real frisky," Johnson said in evaluating his starter. "He just needs to get through that period. It's all about getting to that first start of the season."

Gonzalez entered the game with a sparkling 1.42 spring ERA, and that didn't even include the four scoreless innings he threw March 11 in this same ballpark before a monsoon struck, cancelling the game and erasing all accumulated stats.

So what was the difference today? In addition to having trouble keeping the ball down in the zone, Gonzalez mentioned his unfamiliarity with the Cardinals lineup as a factor. He also mentioned the fact he had to step to the plate to bat for the first time, something that will become part of his regular routine now that he's in the National League.

"That up-and-down process kind of takes a little bit off you," he said. "And you start realizing: 'I'm going to be doing this a lot.' I think personally there's things I want to go back and work on."

Gonzalez will have five days to figure things out before he takes the mound again Tuesday against the Marlins.

Until then, "This is definitely a learning process for me."

38 comments:

DWS said...

Sigh.. let the bashing begin.

Get Some Players said...

Lack of offense is much more worrisome to me. Ks and terrible at bats now the norm. Where's Eckstein on this?

JaneB said...

It's only spring training. There' a learning curve here and a conditioning curve. As awful as it must have been to watch (and to pitch and catch for, actually), it's meaningless. We are still okay.
Until we look at the likely DL we start with, that is...

Mark'd said...

It's still Spring Training. Davey is playing guys like Blanco who is 1 for 25 or something that bad.

Ankiel has been a pleasant surprise.

Dave said...

For some reason, this year I find I'm much less upset about ST losses than I have been in past years. I really do believe that none of this matters (except the injury reports, of course).

A couple of threads back I asked about the Red Carpet Rewards cards (that I had discarded from last year, so now I have none). I called the Nats ticket office today and they'll issue me new ones. Since I picked up a new half-season in the First-Base Club section in addition to my full season in the Infield Gallery, I'll get four cards.

I'll try not to lose them this time...

Anonymous said...

Nah, nothing to worry about. This is were having a veteran behind the plate would come in handy, both Gio & Wilson are young and still learning. Kinda miss Pudge though, helping the baby pitchers find their legs. Sigh.

NatsLady said...

Ankiel looks good, and I don't just mean his square jaw. Apparently he did a different winter routine, lost some weight, and sharpened his hitting.

Blanco supposed to be the miracle fielder, but I think he blew a play at second.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what's happening with Bryce's older brother, Bryan?

natsfan1a said...

Speaking of Ankiel, was listening to the early innings before I had to leave for an appt., and it sounded to me like he got a nice hand from the Cards fans in his first at-bat.

Anonymous said...

Not at all worried about Gio.

VERY WORRIED about the bats. Or lack of

Feel Wood said...

Cards fans are class. The direct opposite of Phillies fans, who will readily boo their own players even if they're in a Santa suit. Cards fans will cheer a former Cardinal for the rest of his career.

In 2006, before I was a STH, I used to sit in various seats around RFK and I ended up meeting a lot of opposing team fans. Cards fans were head and shoulders the nicest.

Ray said...

It wasn't unfamiliarity with the Cardinals, he pitched against them in a rainout in Jupiter on March 11. Still not worried about Gio though.

MicheleS said...

Despite the fact that today was atrocious and we had to listen to Mike Shannon on Audio (MY GOD WHERE IS THE FLAGSHIP STATION), the best thing about today is that it DID NOT COUNT! At least the bullpen looked good (thankfully, as she checks the Bourbon/Wine and Maalox/Pepto supplies for the regular season)

NatsLady said...

That is true about Cards fans. I was on their site this morning and they inquired about Ankiel and EJax and wished the Nats well.

NatsLady said...

An analysis from the D-backs point of view of why the Parra trade won't fly. Pretty detailed.

The Trade Rumor That Won't Die: Gerardo Parra to the Nationals

Bottom line is, if the Nationals were going to overpay for a centerfielder they already would have. That may change, of course, with injuries.

Grandstander said...

Can someone please explain to Gio that he doesn't have to worry about his ABs. Just practice bunting and worry about your pitching dude!

Anonymous said...

VERY WORRIED about the bats. Or lack of

Precisely WHY they needed to sign Fielder even
with his less than optimal physicality. And dispense with declining LaRoche.

NatsLady said...

It's amazing to me how set starting pitchers are in their routines. Lannan got thrown off by a "relief" appearance, even though it was organized so he would warm up as usual and start with a clean inning. Gio's timing is disturbed by an AB.

There's probably the best reason not to have a 6-man rotation or turn ourselves into pretzels trying to stretch Stras into September. Apparently starters program their every minute and workout... I'm not being negative, it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

It's still Spring Training. Davey is playing guys like Blanco who is 1 for 25 or something that bad.

Blanco clearly has a glove ... but they do need bats almost desperately at this point. Guys down in AAA (Harper, Moore, Brown) should take note. If you can generate offense you may be on the big club sooner than you think.

It sure is starting to look like last year's Chiefs. Knorr ended up playing all three catchers because they were the only ones hitting. Flores, Maldonado, and Ramos look as if they can hit ... we'll see ...

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me how set starting pitchers are in their routines. Lannan got thrown off by a "relief" appearance, even though it was organized so he would warm up as usual and start with a clean inning. Gio's timing is disturbed by an AB.


Ho hum saw that last year with Zimmermann ... and Davey quickly put the kibosh to it changing Riggleman and McCatty's bizarre start schedule for the right-hander. That's nothing new ... it doesn't bother some pitchers (see Gorzelanny, Tom) but it can perturb most starters.

NatsLady said...

Stop with the Prince Fielder nonsense! The Nats were not going $214million/9 years. They were outbid, pure and simple, and if they had bid higher, Detroit would have too. There will be plenty of offense on this team, it just won't be in 2012.

Anonymous said...

For anyone who is worried that the Nats' spring training batting statistics are any kind of predictor of what their hitting performance will be in the regular season, this article will offer you a lot of comfort. Read it, and then relax....

http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/2012/03/dont-worry-a-650-is-just-fine-39224

Corky

Anonymous said...

Hi guys, I'm new at this and am down here in Orlando for the weekend and thought I'd try and catch a game! My dad and I are trying to make the best of our game experience tomorrow at the game in Kissimmee. Any suggestions on "must do's" for a spring training game? Weve contemplated going all out and buying tickets down the first baseline, but should we just save the cash and get outfield seats there at the park? Any help or tips for a newbie would be great!

fast eddie said...

The new SI predicts the Nats will finish 84-78, ten games behind the Phils and Marlins. Their "best case" scenario has Werth/Morse/Zimm and Harper hitting 30 HRs each and making the playoffs. Worst case: Werth has another bad year, Morse in 2011 was a fluke and Harper struggles after his call-up and is sent back down.
The range seems too extreme, but I guess it sells magazines.
Comments?

Steady Eddie said...

Here's another cheer for the classiness of most Cards fans. The Cards fans at the home game (in Viera) on the 12th were unfailingly polite and happy to chat about the players on each others' teams.

I had been at the rained out game in Jupiter on the 11th and when I couldn't find the little battery for my digital camera, thought I had left it at the motel in Cocoa Beach. Just as the rains started coming down hard and my brother and I were getting up to leave, a Cards fan sitting behind us in the last row of the section pointed out that the battery had fallen under my seat (though I hadn't mentioned not being able to find it to anyone but my brother).

Understatement to say that I would not hope for that kind of behavior from the typical Phillies fan at their ST park. Probably would have been so drunk by the end of the rain delay that he would have thrown the battery out of the stadium at the windshield of a car in the parking lot.

SCNatsFan said...

Anon 9:02 Mark had 2 posts at the beginning of the spring that gives you all you need, just go back and read those; the comments in those sections give you all you need.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Cardinals fans are the best in baseball. Always have been.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

The difference there is, a Phillies fan would have picked up the battery and thrown it at the next Phillies player to strike out or make an error.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Have to share a story about Cardinals fans. Some of you may remember this one from a couple years ago...

Nats are at Busch Stadium in May 2010. Drew Storen had just been called up to make his debut. Stephen Strasburg was still at Syracuse, dominating but unlikely to get called up for another few weeks.

I go to the Hardee's stand in the upper deck and the guy at the cash register sees my press pass. He asks if I'm from Washington? I say yes. He asks: "When are they going to call up Strasburg?" I respond: "Not for a couple more weeks." He says: "Yeah, they want to save money in arbitration."

Where else can you find a cashier at a fast food place who understands the intricacies of the Super 2 arbitration rule? Only in St. Louis!

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Maybe Wrigley.

JaneB said...

Anon at 9:02, spring for the seats. It isn't much more. Get in as early as you can, and see if you can talk to any players. First base is the Nats' side in Viera. Have fun!

Mark, what a great story. I hope we get some food workers in our stadium who even notice what team we are playing against. THEN we will have arrived!

The Great Unwashed said...

Great story, Mark, but that's not unusual. St. Louis is a baseball town. DC is not. It's that simple. Hopefully it won't be that way for long.

sjm308 said...

Everyone run for cover - Bold anon is back!!!

Can someone please tell bold anon that 1. it is impossible to go back in time. 2. it is useless to complain or worry about what we did or did not do months ago and 3. The Fielder contract will prove to be one of the worst in major league baseball two years from now.

I would use bold letters to emphasize this but do not want to stoop to that level.

Go Nationals that are actually on our team and playing for our city!!

Section 222 said...

Geez everyone sounds like Bob Carpenter tonight with the odes to Cardinals fans.

Did you see Kilgore's report that Davey isn't worried about the offense? Wish I could take comfort from that.

NatsLady said...

This is an audio clip of Dr. Andrews explaining the treatment Mike Morse received. At the end he says it may have "gotten ahead of the research."

Dr. James Andrews, world renowned MLB orthopedic surgeon, explained how Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) works.

http://siriusxmsports.posterous.com/dr-james-andrews-world-renowned-mlb-orthopedi

lesatcsc said...

Sigh, how can one not be worried. I know ST means nothing, I know we're not supposed to read too much into it, but still, all the things that hurt this team so badly on offence last year seem unchanged. No hitting with RISP, no ability to get on base at the top of the order, no ability to get the middle of the order on the field and hitting all at the same time. With Morse, Laroche and Wang all potentially out on opening day and the team piling up losses in ST, it is hard not to be concerned.

The problem this year may be that expectations are so much higher. Is anyone going to be happy if the Nats win 72 and finsh in the bottom three in the NL in offence? This team has some great players, but absolutely no depth. Here's hoping that Morse and LaRoche are good to go, because without them it gets scary fast.

lesatcsc said...

"Nationals have options if Morse isn't ready"

From the Nats home page.

No, they don't. Chad Tracey, Jason Michaels, give me a break. They'll make Matt Stairs look like a keeper. It went from "a little soreness" to a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation to a tear. Next it will be a tear he can "play through". Deja Vu anyone?

And from the headline you can tell already he won't be ready. The next announcement will be that he needed surgery and will be lost for 6 months. When they start trying new and unusual treatments, the knife is always next.

Just saying...

Section 222 said...

Good find NatsLady. Yikes, sounds like the Morse injury might be pretty severe for him to be doing this still kind of experimental therapy for it.

Still, I'd like to try this for my sore knees. Can I get an appointment with Dr. Andrews?

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