Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Riggleman Comments On The Right Field Situation & Monday's Opener

The Greater Washington Board Of Trade held their first ever Washington Nationals Welcome Back Team Luncheon at the Ritz- Carlton in downtown, Washington, D.C. today. Nats320 was there to cover the event and there will be a complete wrap up coming soon. In the meantime, before the start of the proceedings and player/coach introductions (which we have on video), Sohna and I chatted with Our Manager Jim Riggleman for a few minutes about the right field platoon situation he's now dealing with in making out his daily lineups.

With that introduction out of the way--here is that conversation:

We really want to ask you about the rightfield situation, where does it stand right now?

“I really feel good about our rightfield situation because I like getting people playing time. In the typical world you have the prototypical slugger in rightfield and he is driving in runs and playing solid defense for you--but right now I believe we have two or three guys there--Willie Harris, Mike Morse and Willy Taveras that can all play. They each bring a different dimension to the ball club based on which guy is out there--whether there is a left-handed or right-handed pitcher facing us. But I think we can get productivity there. I really do. When you add the numbers up at the end of the year, hopefully, it will be what one prototypical rightfielder could have done. But however you get the numbers out of that slot, it’s almost irrelevant who plays there, as long as we get those numbers by the end of the year.”

But when spring training first began, did you really believe you would be in this platoon situation in April and now have to move people around to find something that is comfortable to work with?

“Not really. Going in, we thought that Elijah Dukes might be that guy. But if that was not the case, it would give us one slot in the lineup we could play with a little bit to make sure bench players don’t get rusty and we give them plenty of playing time. Cristian Guzman is going to play a lot of infield for us, of course, but he’s getting more and more comfortable out there. He’s just another professional hitter in the lineup if we choose to put him out there.”

There have been reports that Mike Morse might be your latest choice for more playing time in rightfield?

“Yeah, Mike will start there tonight. He has some history, if limited, on Cole Hamels (Philadelphia’s starter this evening). He has seen him. We are going to go that route today and, who knows, maybe he will hit a gapper or two for us.”

You’ve played one game, it wasn’t a good game in many respects. What did you learn about your team from that Opening Day loss to Philadelphia?

“That game puts an exclamation point on the fact that you must throw strikes. We didn’t throw strikes that first game. I think we had 27 or 28 times during the course of the game where we threw ball one on the first pitch (to each batter). And as you know, there will not be many days when that is going to work. I attribute that to a very good ball club we played against--that would be the number one thing. Number two, I think, was a little bit of jitters--first day jitters for some of the guys on the mound in a big league ballgame in a while. Hopefully, we can put all that behind us tonight.”

It’s also been reported that you talk to your team after each game--win or lose. What did you say to your team after Monday’s loss?

“I really didn’t say too much after that one. That speaking to the team after games became bigger than life, almost, last year. It became expected, but I knew at the end of last year--during an 162 game schedule--that would be too much. You can’t have a meeting after every game. So, I kept it very brief last year and I was very brief on Opening Day to get a point across. I will meet with them as needed (in the future), I don’t want to be having pep talks over a 162 game schedule. It’s just not going to work.”

With that final answer, Jim Riggleman had to get in line with his players and coaches for the Welcome Back Team Luncheon introductions. Approximately 300 businessmen and businesswomen attended today's first ever Greater Washington Board of Trade event. There were the player/coach introductions followed by lunch, then a roundtable discussion with Riggleman, Our GM Mike Rizzo and Team President Stan Kasten--moderated and hosted by Jim Dinegar--President & CEO of the Greater Washington Board Of Trade.

That complete story coming later on Nats320.

PS--The encased baseball shown above was one of gifts given each attendee--an official Major League Baseball embossed with "Welcome Back Team Luncheon" and the names of the sponsors--Greater Washington Board of Trade and PNC Bank. A very nice giveaway. Also among the gifts, the Red Curly "W" Batting Practice Cap from Opening Day and the 2010 Schedule Magnet being given away tonight--April 7th, 2010.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

No comments: