Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday afternoon observations

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nyjer Morgan takes off from first base during a baserunning/defense drill.
VIERA, Fla. -- Sorry for the late posting this afternoon. The wireless internet at Space Coast Stadium (which had already been spotty all spring) completely went out today. So I've relocated to the Barry Svrluga Memorial Panera press box for a little while to take advantage of some free internet access, not to mention a delicious pumpkin muffin top. (Really disappointed they didn't take Elaine Benes' advice and name this place "Top of the Muffin to You!")

Anyways, today's workout was mostly a quiet affair. A good amount of time in the morning was spent on infield drills, particularly making sure everyone's on the same page when it comes to situations with runners on the corners. The biggest thing I took out of that exercise was that Jesus Flores' shoulder looks pretty good to me. He made several strong throws to both second and third bases and didn't appear to have any trouble doing it. You hate to make any proclamations yet before the games even start, but Flores' injury looks like a thing of the past to me. That's an encouraging thought.

Several rounds of live batting practice highlighted the second half of the workout. I paid particular attention to Yunesky Maya, who looked pretty good during his time on the mound. I can't say I saw anyone make real solid contact off the right-hander, who continues to suggest his uninspiring September was not a true reflection of his ability.

Bryce Harper got to take some hacks again, actually against two of the same pitchers he faced earlier in the week: Shairon Martis and Brian Broderick. Harper didn't put on quite as much of a show today. He lined a sharp single to right-center off Martis and drove one ball toward deep center field off Broderick, but nothing left the yard. Harper also swung and missed against both pitchers.

Chien-Ming Wang was originally supposed to face live hitters today, but that got pushed back one day. Wang will throw during tomorrow's workout.

One final note: A few of you made mention of a report you saw earlier from's Jon Heyman (who was in Viera today) saying the Nationals have gotten some calls from the Phillies about Michael Morse. I wouldn't make much of anything out of that. The Phillies showed some interest in Morse way back at the Winter Meetings as they were trying to sort out their right field situation now that Jayson Werth is wearing the curly W. The Nats were certainly willing to listen to any offers, but they're not actively looking to move Morse, and my understanding is that they haven't received any serious offer for him.

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Yunesky Maya looked sharp while facing live hitters.

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chad Gaudin threw live BP in advance of Monday's start against the Mets.

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper ran the bases early, then took his hacks against live pitching.


Another_Sam said...

Calls about Morse would be welcome news to me. Last spring he didn't show much.

John C. said...

@Another_Sam: He did show more during the regular season, though - when the games count.

I sincerely doubt that the Nationals are going to pull the trigger on any sort of deal that the Phillies are actually willing to make.

William Blake said...

Long live the Viera Panera!

Ken said...

Ben said, "He made several strong throws to both second and third bases"

Hmmm, I guess "bases" means there' more than one of each? Must make for a confusing infield... LOL

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Doc said...

Take it easy on the Panera bread MarkMeister--that good stuff does damage!

Keep us informed of your on-going perceptions of the battle behind the catchers' masks.

Its amazing how the Nats have gone from nuttin' in the catchers' position to tangible assets in a short period of time---maybe the best depth in MLB.

Move over MinniTwins and Joe Maurer!

Theophilus said...

"baserunning/defense drill"? Practicing being picked off? Explanation No. 1: No wonder Morgan is so good at it. Question No. 1: Why bother with practice; Morgan's already got it down pat.

Big Cat said...

Even though I really like Morse, I think if you could pry a young prospect away from the Phillies, do it. I keep looking at Morse's 9 years in the minors and not really doing much. I hope not, but I feel last year was fools gold

PAY TO PLAY said...

I wrote on the last post on Nick Johnson that nobody has signed him. MLBTR says he won't be ready by Opening Day.

Doc said...

I hope Bo Porter is doing some one-on-one with Morgan. The guy needs lots of help, and obviously Uncle Jimmy and past coaches were of little positive impact to his wayward base-running skills.

phil dunn said...

I would not trade Morse to the much hated Phillies. Beyond that, the Phillies don't have much left to trade. Let them eventually die on the vine with their old players and their eye watering contracts.

Doc said...

Right on phil dunn!

At no point should we be helping the Phillies. It soon will be time to watch them wither away, along with their demented fans. The latter of whom may eventually seek relief with Prozac, and possibly even stronger meds.

BinM said...

Morse's offensive numbers last year showed that he has what it takes to be a steady hitter at the Major-League level; If anything holds him back, it's the possible lack of speed / mobility on the bases & defensively. That's where players like Bernadina, Ankiel & even Nix have an edge, imo.

I'd love to see either Morse or Bernadina step up & take possession of LF this spring, with the other becoming an important player off the bench. My worst fear for the OF would be if both Ankiel & Morgan have great springs & the FO decides to shop Morse as a result, just to keep another 'experienced' LH bat.

Anonymous said...

Rizzo knows what has in Morse, keep in
mind that the players released and traded
were from the previous regime. Morse was
acquired by Mike Rizzo for a left handed
bat in Langerhans. Nine years in the minors
is inaccurate he was brought up regularly
by the Mariners. He had that injury in 2008
on the major league club that put him
permanently in AAA for Seattle. He then
proceeded to demolish two AAA leagues
becoming the Chief's best hitter and slugger
putting up numbers comparable to Jason
Heyward's exclusively in AA.

Morse's bat is honed and ready. But Rigglema
keeps touting Ankiel and his zero bat.

Theophilus said...

For a guy who was allegedly once upon a time a middle infielder, Morse seems oddly clumsy in the outfield. I haven't ever actually seen him butcher a fly ball but nearly every play seems to have a bit of drama to it. Willingham may not have been swift but he knew all of the angles in left (not in right) and made the routine play routinely. Morse seems much more tentative in his routes. Could be Riggleman is thinking about that as much as the bat.

N. Cognito said...

Nice camera work Mark - catching Morgan in mid-fall is Pulitzer material.

BinM said...

It hasn't been Riggleman touting Ankiel of late, but more Werth from what snippets I've read. I'd personally hope that Morse becomes a valuable part of the 2011 Nationals lineup, and that he can prove his worth to the team by simply hitting the stitches off the baseball when given the chance in Viera.

@Theophilus: Given his current size (6'5", 230), he may have lost some lateral mobility from the time when he was drafted as a youngster. He's never been particularly 'quick', but could be effective if he stays at LF-1B moving forward.

John C. said...

I doubt Morse gets moved - it's hard to see the Phillies offering enough to interest the Nats in moving him. The Nats are looking to compete in 2012/2013, so any prospect would have to be seriously major league ready (and the Phillies are unlikely to offer Dominic Brown). Morse won't be a free agent until 2014, so he's both talented and affordable.

As for him being awkward in the outfield, that's true - although he catches everything he gets lousy jumps and doesn't seem all that confident in his angles. But remember that he didn't come up as an outfielder and is still learning the craft.

Mary / Springfield said...

Hello Mark (and all) -

A bit of topic, but I have to say that I'm enjoying the photos; after a long winter's break I love to see the crisp-looking white uniforms! Renewed our season tix last week, though we had to cut back from a 40-game pkg to 20. Looking forward to Opening Day!

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