Friday, February 22, 2013

Let the games begin

Associated Press
Bryce Harper will bat third in tomorrow's Grapefruit League opener.
VIERA, Fla. -- Opening Day for the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues, best as anyone can recollect, has never come as early as this before. It's only February 23, and already there's a full slate of exhibition games on top in both Florida and Arizona.

Blame it on the World Baseball Classic, which prompts MLB to push up the start dates for spring training so participating players have enough time to get into shape before leaving their clubs for the international tournament.

Ready or not, though, the exhibition season is upon us. The Nationals take the field tomorrow afternoon in Port St. Lucie, with Stephen Strasburg on the mound to face the New York Mets.

Most position players have only been in camp about 10 days and conducted only about a week's worth of full-squad workouts. So, do guys actually feel game-ready?

"Yeah," shortstop Ian Desmond insisted. "When I got here, I was game-ready. I was joking because Davey [Johnson] likes to keep everything nice and slow and steady. I've been doing baseball stuff since December, so I think I was a little too ready this year. Next year, I'm going to take it a little slower."

Desmond is one of three regulars in Johnson's starting lineup for their Grapefruit League opener, joined by Bryce Harper and new center fielder Denard Span. The rest of the lineup features bench players and possible minor leaguers, with Johnson unlikely to insert his veteran starters (Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche) for another week or so.

The rationale? For one, guys like Zimmerman are returning from injury. For another, the elongated spring schedule -- there are 34 exhibition games scheduled over the next 35 days -- actually provides too much time for seasoned veterans to get ready.

The last thing Johnson wants is for his star players to peak on March 20 instead of April 1.

With that in mind, don't look for a whole lot out of the Nationals' starting pitchers the first time around the rotation. Strasburg probably won't throw more than two innings tomorrow, unless his pitch count is ridiculously low.

The way the schedule sets up, Strasburg and his rotation mates should make as many as seven exhibition starts before Opening Day. That's more than enough time to build up arm strength and approach the 100-pitch mark before the games actually count.

But first things first. Here's Johnson's lineup and pitching roster for tomorrow's opener against the Mets (who will send right-hander Shaun Marcum and then top prospect Zack Wheeler to the mound)...
LINEUP
CF Denard Span
2B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
RF Tyler Moore
3B Chad Tracy
SS Ian Desmond
1B Chris Marrero
C Chris Snyder
DH Micah Owings

PITCHERS
Stephen Strasburg
Craig Stammen
Bill Bray
Fernando Abad
Erik Davis
Cole Kimball
Patrick McCoy

45 comments:

NatsJim said...

Let's go Nats!!

natsfan1a said...

Woooooooooooooooooo!!

Teddy Rochlis said...

Im more curious at looking at how comfortable the players look then how they actually perform, i also beleive that this will be the game showed on MLB network

baseballswami said...

It is on MLB but with the Mets feed.

MicheleS said...

1a..

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

MicheleS said...

Oh and a really excellent read and cautionary tail for our phenom:

from Joe Posnaski, one of the best baseball writers around:

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/50877666/ns/sports-baseball//

NCNatsie said...

Oh my gosh. Real Nats playing a live baseball game on my TV tomorrow.

Western civilazation may be collapsing, but as long as I can watch a Nats game, I can endure.

NCNatsie said...

Civilization. If it does collapse, spelling may be the first thing to go.

baseballswami said...

As long as the first thing to go is not baseball!

Gonat said...

The Indians have no lefties projected for their starting rotation. That's unusual.

NatsNut said...

Chilling read, Michele.

Grandstander said...

DH Micah Owings

Totally did a double take on that one. Forgot he's reinventing himself as a position player.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for having my back, Michele. :-)

MicheleS said...

1a..

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

February 22, 2013 8:13 PM

c715e5d6-9d22-11e1-a89a-000f20980440 said...

Mark, or others who happen to be in Viera: (1) any idea why the Space Coast stadium practice was closed to the public? (there were public drills for the minor league guys) (2) obviously there are a lot of players who are in Viera who are not traveling for the away games. Any idea if they would be practicing on those days, and if so, when?

ArVAFan

sm13 said...

Michelle - The article was a good read, but I'm confident that Bryce is no A-Fraud. And, he has his parents to help keep him grounded, as they have for his first 20 years.

MicheleS said...

SM13/Nats Nut. Agree good read. the issue is that Josh Hamilton had a strong family behind him, but he had crappy teammates. Thankfully we have no total D-Bags that will lead Bryce off the path. I Think with Werth, LaRoche, Ian, and Ryan, they can keep him in line. Just read the SI article and we are so lucky to watch this kid.

baseballswami said...

We often talk about how lucky we are to have Bryce but I also think he was lucky to end up with the Nats. It seems to be a very good environment for someone like him. Can you even imagine if his rookie year had been Boston last year? Or Miami?

JaneB said...

Real baseball, not classic games in rerun. Tomorrow. Ahhhhhh!

sm13 said...

Swami - good point. Add the Yankees to the list of teams that don't treat rookies well.

MichelleS - I agree. There's a great group of mentors and peers on this team for Bryce to bond with - not to mention his buddy Drake.

NatsLady said...

Thanks for the link, Michele, that is a sad story. Really hope it doesn't foreshadow our Kid, or any of our other young guys. There was an article about Michael Jordan in ESPN magazine along the same lines. The author found journals and letters from his college days when he asked his folks for money and stamps and he seemed "normal."

Michael Jordan is 50

http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/page/Michael-Jordan/michael-jordan-not-left-building

Faraz Shaikh said...

thanks michele for article. should be reminder to all young players.

baseballswami said...

So does anyone know anything at all about 3 of the 7 pitchers listed?

SCNatsFan said...

So cool there is real baseball tomorrow and on TV

Faraz Shaikh said...

Swami, I know Abad is the lefty pitcher I was asking about earlier in the off-season. I am too lazy to confirm this but I believe he is a lefty, pitched for Astros last season, and signed on a minor league deal. I was wondering at that time what chance he has of making the roster.

Davis, I believe some nationalsprospect site has done an article on him.

mccoy, no idea. the only thing I know is that he is from out system. that's about it.

tayo said...

That starting lineup could be the opening day starting lineup for many teams in this league and it wont really be a bad lineup.

SonnyG10 said...

It's almost time for BASEBALL WoooooHooooo!!!

Rabbit34 said...

It seems like the Reds are the team to beat (MLB) and have the best pitching staff??!! Yeah, let the games begin!!! GO NATIONALS!

Anna Peregrina said...

Have my Nats NL East Champs shirt on and am ready for the game. Good thing about ST games -- they are mostly at times I can listen in the UK without staying up all night!

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Owings and Marrero hitting almost back-to-back. The games have certainly begun.

"That starting lineup could be the opening day starting lineup for many teams in this league and it wont really be a bad lineup."

Agree. They could have beaten the Nats starting team from just 3 years ago. Bet the Astros would love to field that team instead of what they've got.

I hope Kimball gets to pitch. Been rooting for that guy since the day they found out he had been pitching with a damaged shoulder because he didn't want to sit. He's a bulldog. You have to root for Micah Owings, too. And let's see if Davey and Rick have improved Span's swing mechanics enough to make a difference in his effectiveness.

The Nats have become one of the most interesting team in baseball. For some of the players, these games are very meaningful, and for us fans, there is much to appreciate even without most of the starters.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Heading to Port St. Lucie. Sitting in the front row down the RF foul line. Gator John and I will be the guys in the red Nats Sherseys.

natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...
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natsfan1a said...

Good team chemistry is well and good, but with substance abuse (as in Hamilton's case) there are biological and genetic factors that I would think override mentoring/companionship concerns. In other words, it's a bit of an apples and oranges comparison, imo.

MicheleS said...

SM13/Nats Nut. Agree good read. the issue is that Josh Hamilton had a strong family behind him, but he had crappy teammates. Thankfully we have no total D-Bags that will lead Bryce off the path. I Think with Werth, LaRoche, Ian, and Ryan, they can keep him in line. Just read the SI article and we are so lucky to watch this kid.

Positively Half St. said...

The weather in Viera is supposed to be beautiful today, so we will have a game! I have the DVR set and will enjoy without commercials as soon as little guy basketball and other Daddy Taxi duties are completed. Let's see a Micah Owings home run today. Early games are all about the long shots in my mind.

+1/2St.

Positively Half St. said...

Oops. In Port St. Lucie. Still, isolated T-storms at worse.

MicheleS said...

1A.. totally agree on Josh with the substance abuse. Just wanted to point out another 5 tool phenom other than ARod that had it all in front of him and lost it (thankfully for Josh he was able to make it back).

natsfan1a said...

Speaking of the meaning of early games, I liked this Mike Harris piece.

NatsLady said...

So, for whoever wanted to know who the pitchers are, here is a quick write-up for today's list. Didn't have a lot of time, so it's mostly links... but it'll give you an idea...

ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/



Ghost Of Steve M. said...

GAME DAY!

MicheleS said...

GAME POST IS UP!!!

natsfan1a said...

New post.

natsfan1a said...

I'll put it on your tab, Michele. :-)

natsfan1a said...

Or would that be my tab? Anyway, it's on there.

timeless46 said...

NatsLady, thanks for the link to the Michael Jordan article. Its a very interesting piece.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Thankfully we have no total D-Bags that will lead Bryce off the path. I Think with Werth, LaRoche, Ian, and Ryan, they can keep him in line.

One can only hope. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

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