Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nats all smiles on a frigid day

Associated Press
Denard Span and Kurt Suzuki bundled up at today's workout.
VIERA, Fla. -- The thermometer read 41 degrees, the wind chill reducing that number to 34, as all 53 players in Nationals camp took the fields outside Space Coast Stadium for their first full-squad workout of the spring.

Good luck identifying anyone, though, considering every single player wore a hooded sweatshirt on top of his jersey, leaving all numbers hidden from public view.

"Rain yesterday. Snow today," left-hander Gio Gonzalez cracked. "What do we got tomorrow, hail storm?"

The unusually frigid conditions might have put a slight damper on the proceedings and encouraged everyone to get their work done in a timely fashion before retreating for the warmth of the home clubhouse. But this was still a day full of optimism and friendly
banter, especially for position players who were getting a chance to suit up alongside their teammates for the first time in four months.

Team chemistry was an integral aspect to the Nationals' success last season, and there's no reason to believe it won't play a role again this season. This is a clubhouse full of players who genuinely get along.

"I think the biggest thing I miss during the offseason is the team camaraderie," second baseman Danny Espinosa said. "These are the guys you hang out with every day and shoot the crap with, play the game with, hang out with, go to dinner with. You miss that part of baseball. So it's nice to have everybody out, joke with everybody and start getting ready for the season."

Among Adam LaRoche's motivations to return to Washington following a career year was the strong bond he formed with teammates and members of the coaching staff during the previous two seasons.

"A big part of the reason coming back was Davey [Johnson] and my teammates last year," he said. "It's just a solid group. And I think it's obvious how much we all love being around each other and what that translated into on the field."

Did it actually translate on the field? That's one of the age-old questions in sports, a true chicken-or-egg conundrum.

Does good chemistry breed success? Or does success breed good chemistry?

"I can explain that to you very easily," Johnson said, though his answer was a tad long-winded. "Chemistry is when 25 guys know their role, and they know that if they do their role, it can be expanded. That's good chemistry. ... It's kind of funny. Almost every club I've ever been with, they talk about chemistry, too many groups here and there.

"Well, there's going to be 25 on this team. They all have an opportunity to express their talent. And when everybody feels like they're getting an opportunity to express their talent, it's generally a happy camp. That's my job. But that becomes good chemistry. It's more about 25 guys taking care of No. 1 and playing up to their potential. And then it all fits.

"That's always been the case. And the byproduct of that is winning. And then everyone says: 'Man, what great chemistry!' No, it's because everybody plays like they're capable of."

Whatever theory you ascribe to, the Nationals were -- and remain -- a close-knit club. That much was evident during today's workout, with players from different position groups mingling and joking around, just happy to be together again on a baseball diamond in Florida in mid-February.

Even if it felt more like Washington in mid-October.

"The chemistry, right off the bat, it just feels like we've been around each other," Gonzalez said. "It feels like we just picked up where we left off."


NatsLady said...

Interesting, 53 players in camp. The Yankees have 94. Davey really doesn't like a lot of hangers-on, does he?

For those interested, I put up another post on the baby blog, analyzing the Willingham trade. Please comments, and if anyone knows the answer to the question posed at the end, let me know!!! (I asked Mark to put it on the blogroll but I think he's pretty busy...)

Grading the Trading: Josh Willingham

LoveDaNats said...

Chemistry was a huge part of last year's success. I believe Davey had a lot of influence there and will continue to nurture it this year as well. I'm really looking forward to the season although it's still not going fast enough. I wanna see some games! Even ST games! This team will be great this year. I feel it.......

Doc said...

So Davey's a chemistry professor now. Seems to me that we're gonna miss this wise ol' guy next year.

NatsJack in Florida said...

All one had to see was the big hug Gio gave Wilson after his bull pen session to know how these guys like and respect each other.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

NatsLady, nice read!

Also enjoyed the many photos NJack and David posted.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Doc, I think you're right. Davey said before he's a math guy so probably Math & Chemistry professor.

I like the off-season preparation so far and the 3 pick-ups are very strategic moves Span, Haren and Soriano and add the return of Ramos.

Moving Bryce to a corner OF and allowing him to bulk up should help him through the grind while adding some power.

JZim working on that 4th pitch (changeup) is exactly what I felt both he and Gio needed. I'm hoping we hear something similar from Gio on a new pitch he is working on. I think Detwiler is a year behind in his full progression and Davey already talked about Det using all of his pitches.

Espi unfortunately had the injury he was dealing with and is still a work-in-progress.

Ramos needed to rehab that knee and lose some weight and he appears to have done both.

RZim had his shoulder to rehab and Werth had his wrist to work on and Desi needed to work on his body core balance.

Tracy looks like he had a great off-season and has his power stroke back.

All in all this team looks ready to go. I think Rendon and the 6th starter to add additional depth is also a key.

MicheleS said...

Ghost.. I think Davey also took psychology classes.. so that's got to help

baseballswami said...

I am do excited!! When is the first televised ST game??

MicheleS said...

Swami.. MLB Network Saturday at noon.. Means we have to listen to Mets Broadcasters

baseballswami said...

I don't even think the Mets broadcasters could dampen my enthusiasm!

NatsLady said...

Already with the drama in Boston. Maybe it wasn't just Bobby V.

"He didn't go through the drill as intended & we've addressed it." - @RedSox manager John Farrell on Alfredo Aceves:

NatsLady said...

swami, the Mets guys aren't too bad, if I recall, but I really got sick of the Cards broadcasters. And that was BEFORE we lost those games in October.

natsfan1a said...

So, they had sunshine on a cloudy day? Awesome.

Thanks for the MLB Network heads up, Michele. I hadn't realized that their game schedule was out.

baseballswami said...

NatsLady- I saw that! New players, new manager- same crap?

sjm308 said...

This is just such an exciting time. Read about how well Marrero looks and also Skole. Can you have too much talent?? Obviously not. I guess the big thing is to get through the next month with a minimum of injuries. Big news for us will be who goes to Syracuse or who is waived. We really do have a complete group of players and Rizzo will probably still look at the waiver wire but not like when we needed to fill our roster for the trip north.

Anonymous said...

I'm way behind on comments threads and this one may already be dead, but I have to comment on the idea of giving Davey credit for being a Shakespearean or Latin scholar for having said "put the quietus on." I graduated from high school in rural south Mississippi in the early 1970s and every basketball and football coach I had routinely used the phrase "put the quietus on." None of those guys knew a word of Latin and they slept through "Romeo and Juliet" in ninth grade English.

I think Davey's use of "put the quietus on" establishes his seriously redneck credentials a lot more than it does his credentials as a Shakesperean or Latin scholar (I say this somewhat sadly as someone who was a victim of three years of Latin in high school and college).

Tony said...

When you speak of the pompatus of love you're not talking Latin either.

natsfan1a said...

Tony, do some people call you Maurice, by any chance?

Anna Peregrina said...

Interestingly (well, I'm interested, anyway), there is a Latin word pompatus, meaning "magnificently ordered, splendid" -- giving an English form *pompatous to describe our Nats!

NatsJack in Florida said...

1a.... no but I think he may be a "space cowboy".

natsfan1a said...

Glad that somebody got it, NJ. ;-)

BigCat said...

Marrero takes a beating on this blog, but the guy is a tireless worker. I think his luck is gonna change this year.

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