Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Live from Viera

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Space Coast Stadium is abuzz with activity today.
VIERA, Fla. -- Ah, is there anything better than typing out that dateline for the first time this year? OK, maybe there is, but you know what I mean.

Pitchers and catchers reporting day has arrived, as has your trusty beat writer. Flew in last night, drove over to Viera this morning and just finished my first sweep through the Nationals clubhouse.

The first thing I noticed: the new practice jerseys, which are a very deep hue of red with blue piping. They kind of look like the Capitals' uniforms. Sharp. I'll have some photos later today.

The second thing I noticed: There appear to be fewer lockers than in years past. Usually, the Nats have had to set up some temporary lockers in the middle of the clubhouse for the first several weeks of camp to accommodate all of the non-roster invitees. "Survivor Island," as clubhouse manager Mike Wallace termed it.

Well, with only 61 players in camp this spring, Wally was able to squeeze everyone into the two permanent rows of lockers that run down each side of the clubhouse. It opens the place up. It also provides a clear view of the HDTV that's hanging at one end of the room, which may have had something to do with the new configuration.

There do, however, appear to be fewer non-roster invitees than in the past, when upwards of 70 players have been in camp. In fact, I only spotted three guys with jersey numbers in the 70s: Josh Wilkie (70), Jonathan Van Every (71) and Jeff Frazier (72).

Several number changes to report. Collin Balester has given up 99 and gone to the more conventional 23. Michael Morse has switched to 38 (because Jayson Werth's contract actually stipulates he gets No. 28). Chris Marrero, who in previous camps has owned a very high number, is all the way down to 14 now.

The most notable change, though, might be Drew Storen, who is now wearing No. 22. Amazingly, it's the sixth different uniform number he's worn on a Nats jersey in 20 months. Let's recap: Upon getting drafted and signed, Storen was introduced in a No. 26 jersey. When he played in the Florida instructional league in 2009, he wore 38. Then he went to the Arizona Fall League, where he wore 17. Upon reaching the majors last summer, he wore 58. Early in the offseason, he decided to switch to 25, which he wore at the new uniform unveiling in November. But then the Nationals signed Adam LaRoche, who has always worn 25 and used his seniority to take the number back, leaving Storen searching for yet another new number.

Storen likes 22, but he feel bad for anyone who bought No. 25 jerseys after the uniform unveiling, since those are now obsolete. He's hoping to find a way to help those people either get a refund or at least a discount on new No. 22 jerseys. He would like to set up some kind of event where anyone who bought a No. 25 jersey can show up and get his autograph.

OK, since early arrivals are starting to trickle out onto the practice fields, I'm going to head down there and see what's going on. Jim Riggleman is scheduled to speak at noon, so check back in a little while for the manager's thoughts, as well as plenty more from the first official day of spring training...


Jenn Jenson said...

Have a great day, Mark. I think a lot of us in DC are a little jealous.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grant Mulkey said...

Classy move by Storen. One of the many reasons I like him. It doesn't matter if the number is 3, 30, or 300.

Also, I assume you took that photo this morning, Mark. So the new logo hasn't made its way down to Viera yet, huh?

zib23 said...

@Sec.3, I had the same thought, but this is also laudable. How many athletes would even give a thought to the fans who may have purchased an obsolete jersey? That he is considering some kind of outreach to fans is remarkable.

+1 to Storen.

DCPowerGator said...

i am REALLY disappointed that balester gave up the rick vaughn california penal league memorial #99!

Steve M. said...

Mark, thanks, I love early Spring Training and a lite side article to give me a vision of the clubhouse is great.

That's what I would have done first is walk the clubhouse to see jersey numbers and the Storen switch is great trivia.

The 3 "Js" with the numbers in the 70's will be easy to spot and Marrero is smart to get a lower number as was Balester. Maybe Balester doesn't want to be a sideshow attraction since he sure will have to fight for a 25 man spot.

Mark, can you find out from Morse what he plans on getting from Werth for giving up the #28 as is traditional in those cases. I would hope at least a nice watch.

Mark, how do the new BPs look? Some have said they are Star Trek looking from behind. Hope you can post up some players photos wearing them.

natsfan1a said...

Oh, to be in Viera, now that Nats are there. Or something to that effect. Sigh.

I don't own such a jersey, but nice offer by Storen, imo.

N. Cognito said...

So the Nats put you to work cleaning? How often do you have to sweep the clubhouse just to get access to the players?
You're lucky. Dan Hellie does a lot more than sweep to get access to Redskin's players.

JaneB said...

I'm going to hang on to my old 25 Storen jersey and collect mega bucks for it as an oddity when he becomes the All-Star, Cooperstown bound closer of our dreams.
I'm insanely happy that you are there and reporting on things, even if it's just the locker situation. Spring is here! Baseball news of some kind every day for a while! Actual games soon! It feels today like I won a prize or something. What the heck is wrong with me?
PS... Looking for an update on Livo's physique along with few others.

Feel Wood said...

"Chris Marrero, who in previous camps has owned a very high number, is all the way down to 14 now."

But won't he have to give that up when they hold the ceremonies to retire Manny Acta's number this year?

Doc said...

Hope Ballystar's #23 brings him the good fortune that he deserves; successfully making the final cut means following up on his great performances of the last part of 2010!

Goooooooooooo Nats!

Anonymous said...

What time do the players actually begin to arrive and start practicing? In the old days, the players spent alot of the time in Florida playing golf....is that still true.
I am real interested in the daily workout schedule for the players.... do pitchers start early and bp take place later?

SCNatsFan said...

Yeah, I'm jealous, even though is was 72 here yesterday and managed to squeeze in 18. Have to be excited with all the arms in camp knowing if 1 or 2 surprise then hey, we might be pretty good. Love this time of year when we are atop the standings with everyone else.

Look forward to the reports Mark.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Depending on the weather, players start wandering out to the practice fields between 9 and 9:15 AM. If it's an exceptionally cold moring , they may delay that by a half hour or so, but 9 - 9:15 is the norm.
Stretching and calisthenics at 9:30 or so followed by PFP and bullpen work. Bunting practice usually takes place on 2 of the fields with PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice) on another.
Things change when the whole team shows up but the start time stays the same.

As for the golf... most certainly as there are 2 courses within 2 miles of the site.

Slidell said...

Bought a #58 Storen jersey for my sister for Christmas. Don't think she'll mind too much re the newest number. She admires his mindset in looking to the long-term and getting his degree.

Dave said...

My brother-in-law gave me a Storen 58 replica jersey for my birthday in October. I'll probably keep it and wear it. It's the old design, and it's Storen's rookie-year number.

But I think I may be done buying jerseys with players' numbers on them.

MicheleS said...

Okay. I admit it, I am completely jealous! Even though it is starting to warm up here, Winter is not over yet! I am trying to get to Florida in March and I HOPE I can catch a Game!

I really hope Storen can seize the closers role. It would be great to see a future Trevor Hoffman!

Mark, any word on Josh Wilkies chances of making the club?

Anonymous said...

Dave- Don't feel badly, at least you didn't go the route I did (Castilla #9 in 2005, Soriano #12 in 2006 and Dunn #44 last year). I have standing orders with several family members to hit me over the head with a hard object if I even think about buying a Zim #11, Strasburg #37 or Harper #34 jersey.

MicheleS said...

Just heard Mark on 980.. love that he was rubbing it in that he was in Florida and Loverro was not!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Now I buy jerseys where I can have "NatsJack" on the back and my age. I have two and went to buy another one but suddenly the Nats are no longer listed as a team selling those jerseys!

Check out the list. This maybe my first irksome moment with the Lerners! I may have to buy Mets jersey with my name on the back!

Anonymous said...

That's funny, because the Nats still have them on the website.
Or is that not the jersey you were looking for?

Anonymous said...

NatsJack, buy your personalized name/number Nats jersey here:


HALjr said...

NatsJack, look here for 3 jersey styles available with your own name and number: http://shop.mlb.com/category/index.jsp?categoryId=1895759&source=WAS_HomePageTab

NatsJack in Florida said...

Sorry for the confusion. I should have said "T-shirt". I have 2 of the personalized Nats T-shirts ($35.00) and they stopped offering those. Must not be enough mark up for the Lerners on those.
I'm not real keen on spending $200+ for a jersey.

natsfan1a said...

NatsJack, I just tried Googling "Washington Nationals custom t-shirt," and got a lot of hits (for Modell's, Sport Authority, ESPN and others).

natsfan1a said...

Crud, "Sports" Authority. Anyhoo, presumably with such sites it would be MLB authentic merchandise, but you could double-check on that.

Another_Sam said...

I'm happy with my natsinsider shirt. LOL

NatsJack in Florida said...

I've got one of those, too.
I just went to the MLB Shop section and the "Personalized T-Shirt" add is displayed. Click on that and 29 friggin teams are displayed. There used to be 30 but one team is mysteriously missing from the list!
I've bought 6 of these things in the past (2 for me and 4 for friends) and now we are the ONLY team that doesn't offer this reasonably priced item.
JayB may be gaining a comrade in arms here!

natscan reduxit said...

... a question from a novice, if I may. I notice in Mark's post the attention given to the choice of uniform number, and I have to ask: how important is a player's number to him, and why does it have such importance?

Go nats!!

natsfan1a said...

hmmm, I see what you mean about the team site, NatsJack. I did find this:


NatsJack in Florida said...

natsfan1a..... Thanks... that looks like the same one the Nats site was selling for $35.00.

I'll try them.

Sure is strange that the Nats are the only team not on the MLB sites, though.

MGG said...

NatsJack, maybe they're redesigning them because of the uniform change? It would be really strange if all season they were the only team without.

Feel Wood said...

"... a question from a novice, if I may. I notice in Mark's post the attention given to the choice of uniform number, and I have to ask: how important is a player's number to him, and why does it have such importance?"

You'd have to ask the individual players. Some care, others don't. And their reasons for caring or not caring are entirely their own.

Anonymous said...

Those fanzz.com T shirts are last year's design. As you know, the Nats changed their uniform design from what it was last year. T shirt design changes will obviously follow that. Right now, the shop at the Nats team site is offering only Werth 28 in the new design and Strasburg 37 in the old design. That probably means that the official site is out of the old shirts (except for 37) and obviously will not be getting more, and that in the new design all they have right now is 28. They no doubt will eventually get the new design in other players' numbers and the blanks for personalizing them, once the Chinese child labor sweatshop where they're made catches up on its orders. Remember, they have to feed the voracious Bosox, Yanks, Phillies, etc T shirt demand too, in addition to the Nats demand. So either you can wait until the official site and the team store have the new design in stock, or you can buy the old design now on the secondary market sites like fanzz.com, while their supplies last.

It's as simple as that. Not a conspiracy worthy of the simpleton JayB.

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