Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Belliard-Quick Takes From February 21, 2007
Alot has happened today. Opportunity came my way, and I am taking advantage of it. So, my first post of the day will not be long. Just the basics.
On a GORGEOUS 78 Degree Sunny Day, the second day of Full Day Workouts for Our Washington Nationals commenced. As the players headed to the 4 practice fields, I found myself face to face with Ronnie Belliard. Belliard, as many know, was recently picked up on a non guaranteed contract to fill a potential hole in Washington's Infield. Although, Cristian Guzman was given The Full Bill of Health officially today, and will begin throwing sometime later this week, there is no assurance that "THE GUZ" will be an able player in 2007.
As Belliard came up to me, he stuck out his hand, introduced himself to me. And, I starting firing away the questions. Time was limited, because as I walked beside him toward the fields, once Ronnie steps inside the gates, I am out of bounds.
Ronnie, I asked, Why are you here? "I want to play ball, Washington offered me an opportunity and I accepted."
But, you have to be disappointed coming off a World Series Winning Season, to be left hanging so late in the off season without a team?
Almost defiantly, Belliard snickered: "You know man, its a business, sometimes an unfriendly business. I understand that, but it goes both ways. They (The Nationals) need me, so I am here. Others did not want me. That's OK, I am fine with it. (But, you could tell he wasn't really).
Are you looking to start at second base? "I come to play, man, its what I do. Get into shape and play ball. We'll see what happens."
Has Jim Bowden or Manny Acta said anything specific to you?
"No, other than the fact I will get the opportunity to play on a regular basis. I have the skills. I want the chance. I know I can play."
Belliard and I were right on top of the field fence entrance. So, I fired off the one question everyone wants answered. Ronnie is involved in an extortion case for $150,000 and has said nothing to the media. Not willing to miss out on my chance--Can you please fill me in on who's the bad guy on your legal problem?
Belliard reached the fence, walked inside the dugout, head down, plopped down his gear bag, then looked up at me to say:
"No man, its just not the time. I am not ready, sometime soon." And, he trotted away to re-introduce himself to his new teammates. For a moment, I thought I had him. I really thought he was going to talk.
Todd Jacobson of the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star later told me that Ronnie Belliard has refused to comment on the matter to anyone in the media.
Today's practice session involved hitters taking live batting practice the Washington Pitching Core, for the very first time this spring. And, let me tell you, there was alot of rust out there. At one point, I thought Billy Traber felt he was in an actual game. He couldn't throw a strike to Ryan Church or Chris Snelling, if his life depended on it. The Hitters, for the most part were just hitting line drives and shots to the opposite field.
During a Pitchers Session covering the suicide squeeze bunt, Reliver Ray King could not get his rather large belly out of the way, on seven straight attempts to field the rolling ball and toss it home to the catcher. EVERYONE was just cracking up. John Patterson, at one point, yelled out--"JUST PUT A FORK IN IT, RAY!!" The moment was very, very, funny.
As per Manny Acta's orders, everyone runs from station to station during the entire practice, even coaches jog. At times, with so many in constant motion, someone always seems to be lost as to where they must be at any given time. Pitching Coach, Randy St.Claire was just such a victim today. Yelling over to Pitching Instructor, Spin Williams--"Hell, even I don't remember where I am supposed to be next!!" Williams got Randy back on track.
I checked into the many comments on the Nats Blogs concerning the recent resignations of Farm Director, Andy Dunn, Scouting and Development Coordinator, Michele Copes and two assistants, Tyler Holmes and Matt Blaney.
The Official word from Our Washington Nationals is that Andy Dunn resigned. And, due to legal reasons, nothing else will be fortcoming--according to The Nationals. I checked with some sources outside the organization and was told that Dunn was really not qualified for his job as Farm Director. He had run Operations at RFK Stadium, before being promoted, and had little, if any, player development skills. Copes, Holmes and Blaney were far lesser important employees, that management decided to clear house of, as The New Ownership continues to place their own hires into position. My sources telling me this whole matter is really not a big deal. Just Washington continuing to build in their own way, getting further away from MLB Ownership.
Quote of The Day:
Nationals AAA Manager, John Stearns was throwing Batting Practice on one field this afternoon (so not to tire out all the Nats Pitchers on their first day throwing to hitters). As Kory Casto stepped into the cage, Stearns yelled: "KORY--CASTO!! Those good folks in Harrisburg (NATS AA Club) are going to miss you this year!!. Whereupon, Casto swung and missed on a pitch right down the middle of the plate, taking his eye off the pitch, laughing. Stearns immediately: "That is if you don't continue to swing and miss crap like that. I can send you back down!! You would not like that!!" Casto's only reply: "No Skip, that would SUCK!!"