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Let the madness begin

Feb 21, 2010, 2:17 PM EST

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VIERA, Fla. — The clubhouse was abuzz this morning, all pitchers and catchers present and accounted for, a large media contingent (including several national writers and broadcasters) joining the group. Technically speaking, Friday was the open of camp. But practically speaking, spring training begins today.

As I type this, Jim Riggleman is holding his first-day-of-camp team meeting. Presumably, he'll do this again, with a slight twist, later in the week once all the position players have arrived. At 9:45 a.m., everyone will head down the street to the minor-league complex to stretch and begin the time-honored tradition of fundamental drills. Cover first base. Field bunts. Throw in the bullpen.

The pitchers are split into six groups. Three will throw bullpen sessions today. The other three will throw tomorrow. Today's throwers are: Jason Marquis, Shawn Estes, Tyler Clippard, Doug Slaten, Jesse English, Ryan Mattheus, Stephen Strasburg, Tyler Walker, Matt Chico, Aaron Thompson, Joel Peralta, Craig Stammen, Miguel Batista, Sean Burnett, Ryan Speier and Victor Garate.

Any name in particular stand out to you from that group? I don't think ESPN, the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer are hereRead more »

  1. Andrew - Feb 21, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Wow, Matt Chico, Craig Stammen and Stephen Strasburg!!!!Let's see what they have!Thanks Mark!

  2. Sunderland - Feb 21, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Nice post Mark. Love this stuff.BTW, I couldn't hit a pitching wedge 149 yards if I was on the moon. What the heck is Clippard doing wasting his time chuckin' baseballs?

  3. Anonymous8 - Feb 21, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Thanks for the Clippard golf story! Rumor has it that Craig Stammen is the guy you want in your foursome although Clippard's 79 with an Eagle might make some off-day golf outings interesting!

  4. Andrew - Feb 21, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Mark Zuckerman said…Now, I can't say with 100 percent certainty that this sort of thing didn't take place under previous administrations. It's quite possible it did. But this was the first time I'd ever seen anything like it with my own eyes. You want an emphasis on fundamentals? There's your emphasis on fundamentals.2008 was a horrific year for fundamentals. 2009 was a horrific year for fielding errors.Some would call bad fundamentals mental errors such as bad baserunning, missing cutoffs, not getting down bunts.In 2008, pitchers couldn't get down bunts, and had a hard time fielding their position. Base running blunders were a plenty. I felt there was improvement in 2009 and maybe 2010 based on your observations, it will be even better.Part of the improvement has to come from better players. The other part will come from better instruction which is good to see.143 fielding errors can't be repeated.

  5. Anonymous - Feb 21, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    What is Bob Boone's role during spring training? I remember him as being a Bowden guy, right?

  6. Anonymous - Feb 21, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    Perhaps Clippard should stash some dogs in the bullpen and eat one as he walks to the mound!! Nice story and I like the emphasis on the fundamentals, they need to be much improved over last season, for certain. JT in SC

  7. SonnyG10 - Feb 21, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    Nice tidbit regarding the manager and coaches getting together on the field to go through what to do in any baseball situation. I really like the fact that the Nats are getting good people in the front office and in the scouting and teaching side of baseball. We need a good strong pipeline to keep the flow of quality players coming into the organization.

  8. Andrew - Feb 21, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Sunderland said… BTW, I couldn't hit a pitching wedge 149 yards if I was on the moon. What the heck is Clippard doing wasting his time chuckin' baseballs?Sunderland, he actually hit it in the air 150 2/3 yards before spinning it back that 1 2/3 yards to plug it in the hole! I would be swinging my 7 or 8 iron depending on the wind to go that distance.The most amazing golf feat I had seen with any of the Nationals players was in 2008 with Joel Hanrahan. On a Par 4, 303 yards to the hole Joel took out his driver and smacked it about 303 yards on a dog leg left and landed about 15 feet away. To think about being that close for a potential Double Eagle! For his Eagle putt, Joel just missed it and settled for a nice Birdie. I think it must be a pre-requisite for being a MLB pitcher that you have to be able to play within a 10 handicap!

  9. JayB - Feb 21, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Thanks Mark for the verification of sorts that this years camp will be different that Acta country club I watched several times over the past 3 seasons. I will be down twice this year if things go as I planned at work. Last year M Grissom was "working" with Dukes and Milledge….it was a joke and Acta was sitting in his cart doing nothing about it…..What happened to Grissom…is he still in the organization?

  10. Suicide Squeeze - Feb 21, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    I'd give a lot to have listened in on the last 5-10 minutes of the coaching fundamentals session. Could you imagine the scenarios they were covering at that point?

  11. Skeetinator - Feb 21, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    Absolutely fantastic work Mark. You're coverage is great. Donation is on its way.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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