Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Family Reunion--Sort Of
Nick Johnson, Cristian Guzman, Livan Hernandez and My Main Man!! Ryan Church all playing in the same game. If only Brian Schneider had been on the road trip to Viera, Florida today--a 2005 Family Reunion of Our Washington Nationals could have begun in earnest. NJ, The Guz, Livo and Church all participating in today's pre-season affair between Our Washington Nationals and The New York Mets (Also, former Nats Marlon Anderson & Rob Mackowiak played in this game). A pretty lively affair that included two TITANIC home runs, some nice two strike hitting by Alberto Gonzalez, a continuing hot bat off the hands of Ryan Zimmerman and a truly outstanding three innings on the mound by 22 Year Old Pitcher Jordan Zimmermann.
Looking to make a serious run to the 2009 Rotation for Washington, J-Zimm mowed The Mets down facing just nine batters, three strike outs, five ground ball outs recorded. "He was sharp, locked in." said Assistant GM Mike Rizzo to Sohna and I after the game. "He was very, very impressive."
But does it matter that these hitters have yet to see him before? (SBF)
"You pitch like Jordan did today and you can pitch in anybody's league," concluded Rizzo. "He was excellent."
In fact, Mike Rizzo seemed even more excited about his enhanced role given by management over the past two weeks. "It's been a lot of fun and there is much more in store. We are going to be a better team than anybody realizes right now." To us, that sounds like man that wants to stay in Washington for some time--not just on an interim basis.
Of course Jordan Zimmermann was helped out by Original Washington National Nick Johnson also making a serious run of his own to the starting lineup--while coming back from his latest wrist injury. In the bottom of first inning, Our Number 24 absolutely CRUSHED a Mike Pelfrey fastball well over the rightfield wall and onto the top of Space Coast Stadium's Batting Cage Roof. In fact, Johnson hit the ball so hard it was hard to track in the bright Central Florida sunshine. My Main Main!! Ryan Church hardly moved from his spot covering rightfield for The Mets. Church simply turned, watched and waved the ball goodbye!! A no doubt two run shot that put Washington up 3-0 in the bottom of the very first inning.
A frame that also saw Guzman lead off with a single and score on a well driven double down the rightfield line by Ryan Zimmerman. Our Number 11 continuing to show that coming to camp, in shape, ready to go, can be a world of difference in anyone's game. Ryan really looks good. Let's hope he can parlay this healthy spring into his best season so far in The Major Leagues. And Our Washington Nationals are being cautious with him. Knowing Ryan Zimmerman will play most every game of the upcoming league schedule--he, along with Nick Johnson and a few other players are only playing Home Games during the first two weeks of the Exhibition Season--in order to rest them for the real 162 Game Schedule--not the 35 Game Grapefruit League.
And as for Alberto Gonzalez. He has always been a slick fielder, but since joining Washington late last year, he has been a solid contributor at the plate. Today, facing Livan Hernandez with two out in the bottom of the 6th--Our Number 12 fought off two, two strike pitches to slash a solid two run scoring RBI single to left center--putting Washington back in the lead today for the final time. The final blow to Former Nat Livo being removed from the game after pitching 2.2 innings--giving up 5 hits, 3 walks, and three runs. Old Number 61 was not sharp--tiring noticeably in his third inning of work. But, he did fool a couple of Washington's hitters with his absolutely crazy super slow, curve--seen so many times at RFK Stadium during the first two campaigns of Our Washington Nationals. That pitch that makes you laugh that any hitter could actually miss it--but they do--all the time. I will always have a soft spot for Livan Hernandez. He was so entertaining to watch while in DC--pitched some terrific and awful games, but never lets any pressure get to him. Not many baseball players have heart like that.
Jason Bergmann, Garrett Mock and Bling-Bling!! finished this 6-4 win out for Our Washington Nationals. Jesus Colome recording his second save of the spring. The only real sore spot on the mound being Collin Balester. He simply didn't have it today and was torched for 4 runs in the top of the 4th by New York--Two Home Runs given up, including an amazing clubbed shot by The Mets Catcher--Ramon Castro--who launched a rocket to DEEP CENTERFIELD, over Lastings Milledge, over the warning track and WELL OVER THE 35' TALL GREEN BATTER'S EYE. For his part, Milledge turned around--facing the wall--hoping for the carom--only to see the fast moving baseball scream over that extremely tall wall. Ramon Castro? Wow!! Who would have thought--but it was an impressive blow. And pretty much ruined Balester's day on the mound.
Bergmann seems to be settling into the reliever's role. He was again sharp today. Maybe going all out for a inning or two better suits his mechanics getting out of a whack on the mound. There have been times when Our Number 57 has been lights out. Seems to me, he has all the make-up of also being a closer. Just like Ryan Zimmerman, Jason Bergmann came to camp, in shape, toned up, ready for action. And it appears to be paying off for him. He has done nothing to turn Our Washington Nationals away from a major role on Our 2009 Ball Club.
With Principal Owner Mark Lerner in attendance, Our Washington Nationals started a real Major League looking lineup today. Guzman, Milledge, Zimmerman, Johnson, Elijah Dukes, Josh Willingham, Ronnie Belliard and Luke Montz. You could argue about the catcher, but that's a fairly decent lineup if everyone is healthy.
As usual in all the games played at Space Coast Stadium in which Sohna and I have attended--the off the field stuff is many times very entertaining. Today that remained true.
67 Degrees at Game Time and a lady sitting a couple rows in front of us had on Ear Muffs?
Mets Fans travel with their team and they were out in abundance today. No two better than these two guys wearing special Mets' color tee-shirts digging at New York crosstown rival--Alex Rodriguez. The front of the shirt reads "A-Roid" The back: "My Third Baseman (David Wright) Doesn't Juice!!". A great shirt and typical New York--gotta love it.
For a portion of the game we sat with Nats320 Cub Reporter Tom and his wife--June. Always fun to chat with--Tom likes to travel around Florida to other Grapefruit League Ballparks during Spring Training catching other games. And will be adding his fun to Nats320 again over the next few weeks--just like last year.
Before the game--Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire was working a bullpen session with Scott Olsen on a side field outside of Space Coast Stadium. St.Claire working with Olsen on his release point during delivery. For some time, Scott has been too inconsistent with his pitches--ultimately, not placing his pitches in the right spots as they cross the plate. Randy St.Claire, spotting a flaw in his delivery, feels he can get Scott Olsen back to the quality starter he was two years ago with The Florida Marlins.
Also seen outside the ballpark on a mound today--Matt Chico in his customary #47 throwing a bullpen session for a good 25 minutes. Chatting with Matt after practice--he told Sohna and I that it has been "killing me" not being able to pitch in any games. "I really have missed not being part of the ballclub. But my arm feels really good and I have no pain." Matt Chico expects to be ready to pitch in a Big League Game by mid-season.
Finally, The Oakley Performance Eyewear folks were situated outside Space Coast Stadium this afternoon. Working out of their mobile lab, Oakley had on display these very swift looking Red Curly "W" Sunglasses. You can bet The African Queen was modeling the samples. They were cool--with a small Curly "W" on the lower left lens--available in prescription form from your Eye Specialist. Ryan Zimmerman wears the exact same non-prescription pair. Five lucky fans were picked at random today to receive a pair of these special Oakley Curly "W" Sunglasses during the ball game.
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