Thursday, February 14, 2013
First workout wrap-up
VIERA, Fla. -- Today's first pitchers and catchers workout began in pleasant enough conditions: overcast skies, 70 degrees. But about one hour into the session, the heavens opened, and they still haven't closed almost 12 hours later.
The rain sent everyone scurrying but didn't dramatically alter the Nationals' workout plans.
"The weather helped just right," manager Davey Johnson said. "We got our work in. Everybody got their last pitch in. Then the big drops came. The only change in the workout was the catchers hit in the cages and got all the work in. It was a good day."
Plenty of big names took to the bullpen mounds for their first official throwing sessions of the spring, including the star-studded first group of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler and Drew Storen. Strasburg was his usual impressive self, looking "smooth as silk," according to Johnson. More impressive to the manager, though, was Gonzalez, who looked to be in mid-March form instead of mid-February form.
"I tell you, I was excited," Johnson said. "Gio was way ahead of where I thought he'd be. He doesn't do a lot of throwing in the offseason, and I actually had to sit on him. He was firing the heck out of the ball."
Johnson was more interested to see a few guys pitch in person for the first time, like reliever Bill Bray. The former Expos first-round pick, who was traded to the Reds in 2006 but re-signed with the Nationals on a minor-league deal, dealt with a groin injury last season in Cincinnati. Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty said they could tell today watching the lefty pitch.
"Talking to Cat, it looks like his delivery is a little bit changed," Johnson said. "He's made adjustments in his delivery to overcome the groin. I think it's gonna be a little bit slower process for him in the spring to get back to where he's comfortable with his extension and release points. But I thought he had pretty good arm strength today, and it's very early."
The workout included the typical first-day drills: pitchers' fielding practice, bunting practice, covering first base practice. Over on Field 5, adjacent to Space Coast Stadium, more than a dozen position players who reported early -- a group that includes Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span, worked out on their own before the rain struck.
Here are a few photos from the day. Enjoy...