Thursday, February 21, 2008
We Are Back!, And So Is Nick!!
Once again, Sohna and I took the 859 Mile trip from Alexandria, Virginia to Viera, Florida--to enjoy Spring Training for Our Washington Nationals. Over the next week we will be on location and --hopefully--provide some slightly different coverage--same as last year. And as in 2007, nothing is really planned. But, something always develops--when you make the effort.
After arriving late last night--today our goal was just to get the lay of the land again. Not much reporting--as full squad workouts do not start until tomorrow morning. But right away--Alex Escobar happened to walk right past us and kindly took a few minutes to speak about his efforts to resurrect his injury prone career.
I know its been frustrating for you with all the injuries--how do you overcome? (SBF)
"I feel good. I have to put everything behind me and be ready to go."
But how tough has it been to get past everything? (SBF)
(Chuckling) "Yes, of course, when I know I have the talent (to be a Major Leaguer) and I just can't get there. I can't use those tools to move forward. But, really, there is nothing I can control about that. Unfortunately, all that stuff did happen. I am already fixed (healthy). I am already healed and ready to put all that into my past."
But there had to have been times when you never felt you would get past those injuries? (SBF)
"Its a matter of being strong mentally and sticking with it. I had some very good doctors and everything was taken care of. This all comes down to getting back to it (playing baseball)."
You have some good talents, some would say you are a five tool player in many respects and no one can ever give up on that. (SBF)
"Yes, thank you. Its very hard to create that. If I knew I did not have ANYTHING special, I would have quit a long time ago--but that is not the point here."
And that is the reason why you re-signed with The Nationals--because they have been so supportive of you? (SBF)
"Yes, but more importantly, I have to prove to myself, that I CAN DO IT!! I need to prove to myself that I can do it, nobody else--really. And, then move forward--so I can be happy at the end."
You have alot of competition this year? (SBF)
"That's OK. As long as I do my thing, I will be fine. If I can do it--I will be there."
Alex Escobar needed to move on to The Batting Cages--he had to go. Over the past three years of baseball in Washington, DC--there have been few players that have enticed me more than our Now Number 6. If he could EVER stay healthy--Alex Escobar would be a fine player. I have to feel for him. Never do I wish to see someone so gifted not do well. Hopefully, he will get his opportunity--again.
Then, it was on to see Our Number 24. Nick Johnson looked decent in the batting cage. When Sohna and I briefly chatted with him as he was heading back to The Clubhouse--you could see the face of child again--broadly across his face. Happy to be back playing the game he enjoys. Even if its practice--obviously it is a huge relief for him after sitting on the sidelines for 17 months. You just know Nick Johnson had to wonder if he would ever recover--properly from--his broken femur.
Luis Ayala told me his left forearm is fine--after that terrible hunting accident this past December 26th. Smiling and being personable as always--he said: "I am good. I am healthy. I just had a nice workout." Were you scared when the hunting accident happened? (SBF) "Yeah, but it happened and I am OK. I am fine, time to play ball." Just today--Ayala arrived in Viera for his first day of camp--after having Visa Problems coming from his Native Mexico.
And the sight Our Manager Manny Acta--immediately yelling over to Sohna after seeing us--"You keeping that man under control!!?? (meaning me obviously)" was funny. While everyone laughs--The African Queen responds--"You better believe it!!" Bullpen Coach Rick Aponte nearly fell out the golf cart everyone was riding in--chuckling over the comment. Of course--The African Queen loves Mr. Aponte--they met at the Baseball 101 Clinic for Women last September. Tim Tolman asked Sohna if she would return for Baseball 101 in 2008. "It was such a success, we will be doing it again this year, you coming back?" said Tolman. "You bet I will," responded The African Queen, "I am going to bring more women with me." Give my wife credit--she enjoyed seeing some of her favorite guys again--nothing wrong with that.
Did you notice the change in the light pullover wind breaker worn by the players and coaches? No longer does anyone wear the blue with "DC" logo--nor the all red pullover with Nationals across the front. The new version has blue sleeves cut into the shoulders. Also, when Sohna and I were chatting with Jose Rijo--we noticed the red fleece pullover, worn the past few years with a small "DC" logo at the neck--as been changed. The new fleece pullover has a Curly "W".
Finally--we end with this: The Quote Of The Day.
After an interview with Team President Stan Kasten--it was time for the customary Nats320 Pictures. Posing with Sohna--Mr. Kasten said: "I love taking a picture with Sohna--she makes me feel tall." Everyone cracked up.