Friday, March 22, 2013

Ramos, Storen and a surprise knuckleball

USA Today Sports Images
Ryan Zimmerman tags out Andrelton Simmons on a stolen base attempt.
VIERA, Fla. -- More news and notes from last night's game against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista...

Wilson Ramos was absolutely beaming afterward, having successfully caught his first full game since tearing the ACL in his right knee about 10 months ago. This really was the final hurdle for Ramos to cross in his recovery. He clearly sees himself as 100 percent back from the injury.

"If I say that, anybody can believe it, but I feel better than before I got hurt," he said. "I feel more strong, I feel more alive behind the plate. I'm blocking the ball pretty good. I feel very strong behind the plate. I'm very excited for this moment."

Ramos showed off his arm during the bottom of the first inning, firing a laser to nab Andrelton Simmons trying to steal third base (though replies showed Simmons may have slid around Ryan Zimmerman's tag). Simmons had appeared to get a great jump on Dan Haren, but Ramos made up for it with his throwing mechanics.

"That's a quick reaction for me," he said. "It feels great. My arm feels good. My footwork is quicker than before, because I lost weight."

Indeed, Ramos has looked trim and fit this spring, and he's moved well both behind the plate and on the bases. He said he wakes up the morning after catching and feels no ill effects. At this point, he simply can't wait to be back there in a game that actually counts.

"I'm not thinking about my body, my knee," he said. "I'm just thinking about Opening Day. I'm working for that and just waiting for that moment." ...

Though he allowed a well-struck double to the fantastically named Joey Terdoslavich in the bottom of the eighth inning, Drew Storen otherwise pitched well. It was an important outing for the right-hander, who has struggled more than once this spring and left his manager pleading for him to do less thinking on the mound and more pitching.

"He looked more like where I wanted him," Davey Johnson said. "His rhythm was a lot better. He's had a tendency to be too deliberate, too slow, thinking too much. Today he was just getting the ball and basically throwing it. And he pitched better. He looked more like a pitcher, instead of Einstein out there trying to figure out some difficult equation." ...

The comedic highlight of the night came in the top of the second, when Tim Hudson greeted Adam LaRoche with a 47-mph knuckleball that left the Nationals first baseman calling for time and stepping out of the batter's box while he tried to stop laughing.

"It's tough when the catcher and umpire are both laughing, too," LaRoche explained. "It's hard to keep it together."

Some background: Hudson and LaRoche are former teammates and good friends, and Hudson always seems to do something off-kilter when he faces LaRoche in spring training (including once throwing the rosin bag at him). This time, LaRoche made a knuckleball motion with his hand as he stepped to the plate, then was shocked when Hudson actually threw one.

"I didn't think he would do it," LaRoche said. "I should've known better."

The surprise pitch nearly crossed the strike zone, falling just a tad too low.

"It's a new pitch I've been working on," Hudson told reporters in deadpan fashion. "I was going to wait till the All-Star break to break it out, but it's been so good lately that I'm going to start implementing it."

LaRoche did get the last laugh. After the knuckleball, he drove Hudson's next pitch into right field for a base hit.

19 comments:

Doc said...

Actually, Davey,,Einstein had one great breaking ball called "The Theory of Relativity"--he was able to bend light with it! LOL

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Warms my heart on all the positives on Ramos. I think at this point I would surprised if Ramos wasn't starting April 1st.

MicheleS said...

Mark's right, besides the hit DRUUU gave up to the Terd, he looked really good, so no worries there.

So happy for Wilson, after all that he has gone through, you know he just wants to play

NatsLady said...

"replies" = "replays" maybe? BTW, what is the status of replays for this season?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

From the previous post, MicheleS glad you experienced exactly what the batter sees. A true breaking pitch can be seen clearly from very few seats. If you were 10 seats to your left, different perspective. That's why scouts are usually sitting in your area a few rows back.

The same can be sitting in the outfield behind the CF and watching their jumps.

MicheleS, I think that same seat in Nats Park is $350.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

SI saying Lohse looking for a Dempster type deal roughly 2 years $26.5 mill. Big difference from 3 yrs at $45 mill. The Orioles should be all over that!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Rizzo signs JC Romero. That wasn't the big surprise I was expecting.

Tcostant said...

I called for this move (on these boards) after watching Romero pitch in the WBC. Great move!!!

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/03/22/nationals-sign-j-c-romero-to-minor-league-deal/

Mac said...

JC Romero. Seems I have heard that name mentioned here recently, haven't I?

peric said...

Keep the weight down low Wilson. Never forget you have solid competition behind the plate in Mr. Suzuki. Keep the weight down just like he does. You'll still generate lots of power from your lower body ... keep to the diet, eat healthy throughout the season. Its literally worth millions to you.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Are the Nats looking for a new Clint?

Section 222 said...

JC Romero was a National for 16 days in 2011 -- signed as a free agent on June 28, released on July 13. Welcome back!

Laddie Blah Blah said...

I was watching Espinoza. Somehow, he appears to be seeing the ball much better, and laying off most of those pitches way out of the zone. His LH bat has been dialed back, and he looks more like a contact hitter than a go-for-broke swinger.

When he came to bat from the right side, later in the game, he looked like the same old Danny, swinging for the fences, until he got to 2 strikes (both swinging). He then dialed back that swing and timed a pitch over the outside part of the plate and hit an RBI liner to CF. He looked like Ryan up there, but he hit the ball to CF instead of to RF.

Very encouraging signs from Espinoza, although a very small sample. If he continues to hit with that same approach, especially from the left side, he is going to be a much more productive hitter this year than last, especially in special situations, like a guy on 3rd and less than 2 outs. The contact hitter we saw yesterday will drive that man in, while the old free-swinger of last year usually struck out or popped up.

Keep it up, Mr. Espinoza. We are all rooting for you.

Section 222 said...

Are the Nats looking for a new Clint?

Sure sounds like it. Nice scoop Sofa!

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Sec222, I think Romero was stashed in AAA and then got out of his deal on an opt out clause.

Section 222 said...

Ghost, exactly. He had five appearances with Syracuse. When he didn't get a callup, he bolted. But he only had 11 appearances with the Cards and 5 with the Orioles last year, along with 25 minor league appearances. If he'll play in Syracuse as H-Rod insurance, that wouldn't be a bad thing, especially since he's a lefty, but I'm not expecting a lot from him at this point. He'll be 37 in June, and hasn't been particularly effective since 2010.

peric said...

His LH bat has been dialed back, and he looks more like a contact hitter than a go-for-broke swinger.

That's can happen when you lose a rotator cuff. He'll be batting in front of the catcher initially so ...

Navy Nats Fan said...

Sofa, 222, they are looking for a new Clint, but it's not a scoop - Steinberg wrote about it 3 days ago:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2013/03/19/clint-khoury-will-have-lesser-role-at-nats-games-in-2013/

UnkyD said...

Laddie... Is there an Insider joke about spelling Espinosa's name with a "z", of which I'm unaware?

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