Friday, February 26, 2010

Riggleman's message and live BP

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Garrett Mock impressed today facing live hitters for the first time.
VIERA, Fla. -- His entire roster together in camp for the first time this morning, Jim Riggleman decided to hold a full-squad meeting before taking the fields for a spirited workout. These meetings, usually held on the first day of full workouts, are common throughout baseball, but it's always interesting to hear what kind of message a manager tries to deliver.

In Riggleman's case, there were two main themes: 2009 is a thing of the past, and it's time to pay attention to details.

As for moving on from last year's troubles, Riggleman did make a point to mention all the good individual performances the Nats had in '09, from Ryan Zimmerman's Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards to Adam Dunn's 38 homers and 105 RBI to John Lannan's consistency atop the rotation. And he made sure to thank his players for giving full effort during the season's second half and playing a big role in his retention as permanent manager.

"I'm indebted to the players who were here in '09 who are still here," he said. "If they didn't play hard, I wouldn't be here."

As for the emphasis on details, well, it was perhaps a not-so-subtle message that the first thing the team once they took the field this morning was run through a bunt defense drill, with Riggleman leading the way.

"We can hit better and pitch better in '09, but if we don't take care of the little things, we're not going to be as good as we could be," he said. "That's the responsibility of the manager and the coaching staff to take care of those things."

The other highlight of today's workout was the first session of live BP this spring, with pitchers throwing off the mound to real batters who are free to swing, all of it done with protective cages and screens to prevent injury. It might be my favorite thing to watch all spring, because you can get right up behind the cage and watch a big-league pitcher and a big-league hitter square off just like it was a real game, basically from the home plate umpire's vantage point.

The guys who threw today included John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Ron Villone, Eddie Guardado, Garrett Mock, Matt Capps, Brian Bruney and Collin Balester, plus a few others. I couldn't see every single guy up-close, because this was taking place simultaneously on two adjacent fields, but I did get a good look at Olsen, Guardado and Mock. I also was told Capps looked particularly impressive, a point emphasized by pitching coach Steve McCatty, who told the closer as he walked off: "Just start playing the national anthem now, 'cause you're ready."

Some observations of the three guys I saw up close...

OLSEN: He had both his ups and downs. Justin Maxwell tagged him for a double off the base of the batter's eye in center field. But Olsen also shattered Nyjer Morgan's bat with one pitch, prompting McCatty to shout out: "I love that sound! Way to go, Oli!" Replied Olsen: "That's at least one for the year!"

GUARDADO: Looked pretty sharp. A couple of new front office members standing right behind the cage said they didn't see that kind of pop and movement from Guardado last year when he was with the Rangers.

MOCK: This was perhaps the most interesting session of the day, because Mock was facing Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn. At one point, the right-hander misfired a fastball and left it right down the middle. Dunn didn't swing, but you knew if it was a real game he would have and probably drilled it. "You get that one?" Mock asked the slugger. "I'll let you know, meat. Just worry about pitching," Dunn shot back with a laugh. Well, Mock decided to come right back with that same fastball again, hoping to run it up and in a bit more. He did, and Dunn got off a weak swing that fouled the pitch back into the cage. Both guys had a good laugh. "I like that," Mock said later. "I knew he was going to swing, so I threw one up and in so he couldn't hit one into that freaking lake. I love Adam. He's awesome."

Plenty more to discuss from today, including Livan Hernandez's arrival. I'll have more on that in a little while.


SpashCity said...

There may not be a better feeling in the world for a pitcher, than breaking a guy's bat. Here's hoping that is a sign of things to come from Olsen, it would be such a huge boost to the rotation is he could return to his 2006-2008 self.

Also love to hear the pitcher/batter chatter between Mock and Dunn.

"Why's he calling me meat? I'm the one driving the Porsche."

peric said...

It looks like of all the "young" pitchers they are mostly hoping Mock takes that next step. Might be some pressure on him especially if Olsen falters.

Anonymous said...

Riggleman needs to learn to keep hos promises. He was suppose to be on the Sports Fix today (ESPN 980 noon to 2pm) and did not show. I did ear Mark Zuckerman there yesterday.

Bottom line - you need these media outlets to promote the team - so if your say your going to go on, then go on the time you said you would.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, I love the observations on the pitchers. I would love to see more of those if possible.

JayB said...

Audio Files when the wind is still please?

LOVE the message and follow through from Riggs and Rizzo....This is just what this team needs to hear and see...HIGH EXPECTATIONS and PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY mixed with Drilling on fundamentals.....Mark, at some point please give us your reflections of this camp verses past camps.

natbiscuit said...

Mark, could you please put on your to-do list - a conversation with the new coaches - especially McLaren, but Raddison and Lett as well. I'd be interested in roles and responsibilities. Who's going to be positioning the outfielders, who's coaching the baserunners, and what is Lett's approach in the bullpen?

Sunderland said...

Mark, great stuff.
Every now and then, I let myself think that Olsen and Mock could both be solid performers this year, that Bruney and Burnett could dominate tight situations and that Capps could slam the door with consistency.
But I'm afraid.....

NatsNut said...

I love the back-and-forth trash talk between Mock and Dunn. How fun. Do they do live batting practice alot in ST?

natscan reduxit said...

Hi Mark,

... my question isn't really about Garrett Mock. I have a different question, and wonder if you have any idea about it. As I recall from reading Chico's swan song today, the Nats paid a signing bonus to Smiley Gonzalez, or whatever his name is, back in 2006. Something like 1.4 million, if I'm not mistaken. It would appear that bonus was received under false pretences, so is there any chance or any attempt to retrieve that money?

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