Monday, March 01, 2010
The Sun Finally Comes Out & With It--A Full Workout
Eddie Guardado is sitting in the 1st base dugout alongside Ron Villone on Field Number 2. They are both putting on their spikes to begin their warmups to pitch batting practice. They are in the middle of a conversation with The African Queen about the wonderful weather that's finally arrived in Central Florida today.
Guardado: "If anyone complains about this weather today, no one is going listen to them."
Villone: Standing up and walking away: "If anyone complains about this weather today, they better send them to the looney bin."
Guardado and Sohna say together: "You got that right!!" (laughing)
The Quote Of The Day came on as gorgeous of a spring Monday in Viera, Florida you might ever see. Exactly what everyone would expect for the first day of March, 2010. 70 degrees, sunny and not a rain cloud in sight. Four days after arriving for our annual spring training trip, the good weather finally posted up. And it's a good thing too, because with just three days to go before the very first games of spring are played, Our Washington Nationals were able to get in a full and complete workout this morning at Space Coast Stadium's Minor League Training Complex. A nearly four hour session that spent a tremendous amount of time on the details.
Yes, there were the typical batting and bullpen sessions. But our two favorites involved Washington's catchers fielding high pop ups and every single person in camp running through four personal training agility stations. These opportunities also made for good pictures.
Like this video of Jesus Flores, Pudge Rodriguez and Wil Nieves chasing down consecutive foul popups off a pitching machine operated by Harrisburg Manager Randy Knoor.
Later, Jesus Flores came over to reveal: "I am up to throwing 90 feet now. Although, I am only throwing 60% (in strength), my arm is getting better every day." But it was clear that Jesus Flores fully realizes he's not starting the season on the Opening Day Roster. "I have yet to swing a bat, hopefully soon." and he's nowhere near ready for full baseball activities yet. We could tell he's itching to play more, but Jesus understands he can't have any more setbacks right now. The team is bringing him along slowly so that all the kinks can be worked out once and for all.
The agility drills included hip stengthening, shuttles, medicine ball and longer distance running. This is where Willie Harris and Adam Dunn showed off their fancy footwork.
And this was also where the largest medicine ball we've ever noticed was put into action. That ball was huge.
Today was also when Carlos Baerga returned to Our Washington Nationals for a visit. Standing around the batting cages near the minor league training complex at Space Coast Stadium this morning, this Original Washington National appeared more like The Godfather working the receiving line. Was he ever popular!! Not one single player passed up the opportunity to chat with Baerga. Cristian Guzman, Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman among the many that stopped to swap stories. Carlos was holding court, even better than Livan Hernandez yesterday. Carlos Baerga, an ESPN Deportes Baseball Analyst was telling story after story and EVERYONE was listening and enjoying a laugh or two.
We've noticed how Our General Manager Mike Rizzo has mostly stayed in the background during those training sessions so far in 2010. Rizzo's not out there overly chatting with players and making any type of a scene. A big difference from the previous springs when Jim Bowden was GM.
Did you know that Adam Kennedy is wearing uniform number 20? Frank Robinson is the only other person to ever wear that jersey number since Baseball Returned To D.C. in 2005. Washington Senators Great--Frank Howard's Number 33--is the only uniform number below 60 never worn by a member of Our Washington Nationals in a regular season game. Larry Broadway wore 33 during the spring season a few years back. Hondo's number needs to stay retired.
Monday was also the arrival date for The 10 Millionth Fan in Nationals History. Mark Strattner was on hand this morning watching training camp in Viera. He's never been down before and is looking forward to taking in a few games as well. Sadly for Phil, Robert & G.G.--this was their final day in Viera. The Kings Of Nationals Autographs spent their last day before returning to D.C. picking up those last few signatures wanted on baseballs or cards. For the past four years, they've never missed the opening week of Nationals Full Spring Training Camp in Florida--one of their favorite times of the year.
Nationals Fan Marty also had a wonderful idea. He brought his 2009 Draft Day Tee-Shirt handed out at Nationals Park last season to today's practice and waited patiently for both Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen to autograph the shirt for him. Marty was quite happy with that pickup and displayed it proudly.
And finally, as Ryan Zimmerman is being driven back to The Space Coast Stadium Clubhouse when practice ended, he looks over at us and gives the Two Thumbs Up Sign, smiling broadly. The Z-Man is looking more relaxed this spring than at any time before during Spring Training.
PS--Sohna and I chatted with quite a few players today after practice. Those interviews coming up later as we transcribe them.
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