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Spring training storylines

Feb 7, 2011, 3:40 PM EDT

Football season is over, which can only mean one thing: Pitchers and catchers report next week. Are there any sweeter words in the English language? I think not.

As we speak, various ballplayers are trickling in to various spring training sites in Florida and Arizona, the early arrivals trying to get a leg up on the competition. This afternoon, members of the Nationals clubhouse staff will be loading up moving trucks full of equipment and embarking on the 900-mile trek down Interstate 95 to Viera, where in a mere eight days pitchers and catchers officially report.

There figure to be no shortage of storylines at this Nats camp, from Bryce Harper's pro debut to Stephen Strasburg's rehab to Jayson Werth's first spring wearing the curly W to Jim Riggleman's second spring in charge to a number of battles for roster spots.

Those, of course, are the obvious storylines. There will be plenty of others to emerge from this particular spring, and I'm curious whichRead more ยป

  1. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Pitchers and catchers are more than enough, plenty of stories to follow where the Nats are concerned.

  2. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Starting pitching, catchers, desmond/espinosa, centerfield.

  3. Theophilus - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    The apogee of hope.

  4. Doc - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    If its possible MarkMeister, I'd like to see an interview with Rick Eckstein on the kind of batting issues he'll be working on with various players. He seems so hard-working and well-respected, but we don't hear a lot from him. Traditionally, of course, the pitching coach seems to get more ink than the batting coach.

  5. Andrew - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    I am most curious in following the progress of Jordan Zimmermann, the fielding of Ian Desmond, the hitting stroke of Espinosa, and the status of Nyjer Morgan.

  6. NatinBeantown - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    The nature of the CF competition–open or nominal?Flores and Wang at full-speed, as advertised?Whither Marquis? Is he going to redeem his signing and be a real contributor in 2011?

  7. Theophilus - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Mark — I assume you will be favored with access to all of what is going on in Viera. For myself, I am most interested in the evaluation and progress of the Nats youngest prospects, including the much hyped 2010 draft class (Cole, Ray, etc.) and others (E. Perez) unlikely to play in the ML exhibition games. What's happening w/ the 40-man roster will be pretty self-evident from the box scores but your followers (some more than others) need a comprehensive assessment of who's in the pipeline and who's just turning out to be a drip.Apart from that, an early assessment of Wang, Marquis, Detweiler, Flores and some of the other reclamation projects would be appreciated.

  8. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    I would like to know if the Nats have specific single teaching philosophies for both hitting and pitching, which are reinfoced throughout the minor league system, and if so, what are they.As an example, I've heard of minor league systems where hitters are taught patience at one level and taught to be aggressive at the next. This dichotomy certainly doesn't help hitters develop.

  9. Hotdiggitydog - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    What he said plus an assessment of the Nats young stud pitching prospects.Andrew said… I am most curious in following the progress of Jordan Zimmermann, the fielding of Ian Desmond, the hitting stroke of Espinosa, and the status of Nyjer Morgan.

  10. Original Nats Fan - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    second Doc's request for Rick Eckstein interview. Also, Zim and Desi were down in Florida working with him this winter. How did that turn out? Has Espy shortened his stroke? One more week, I can hardly wait

  11. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    All kinds of things will come up, but I know I'll be wanting details on :How CMW is doing!Is Harper fast/smart enough to play center?Who is making an impression in the Minor League camp?

  12. P. Cole - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Is Drew Storen ready to be a full-time closer?

  13. Jenn Jenson - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Mark,I'm interested in Ramos/Flores competition, and the odds they'll become our catching tandem in the future. Is there a way to get both of them enough playing time until Pudge goes on to whatever's next? Or is the future more likely to include Ramos *or* Flores and someone else in the system?As far as pitching prospects, I want the scoop on Cole Kimball, my adopt-a-prospect for this year.Everyone, If you haven't seen it already, check out my story on Mark over at Natsfangirls.comhttp://natsfangirls.com/2011/02/zuckerman-the-peoples-beat-reporter/

  14. Drew8 - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    I'm interested in Chris Marrero. In March 2008, Marrero and Burgess lined back to back doubles in a spring training game against Cleveland, and Manny Acta raved about their bright future.Now Marrero will be 23 in July and he's blocked by LaRoche. Is Marrero a complete bust? Does he have any future, any trade value?

  15. Grant - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    I'd like to see a recurring piece tracking the progress of the prospects we received via trades during the last year: all the guys we got for Capps, Hammer, Maxwell, etc.

  16. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Mark,I'd like your stethoscope to periodically measure the pulse of club leadership. Who is emerging as the vocal leader(s)? Does this collection of players expect to win? Is Pudge in it just for the 3,000 hits and HOF? Who is it the rank and file look to for setting the tone?

  17. Tcostant - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    I'd like to hear about what they are doing so our pitchers can bunt a guy over to the next base. In addition – updates on Zimmermann and how he looks now compared with that spring when he was a rookie pitcher.Lastly – Anything Harper does vs. Major League pitchers.

  18. joemktg - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    1) Espinosa's hand2) Flores' shoulder3) Who arrived out of shape vs. who worked their butt's off over the past few months4) Where will Harper start off this season5) Clubhouse chemistry with this new mix of characters6) Eating establishments: improvements?

  19. The Joker - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Since this is now "Rizzo's team", it would be amusing if all the ballplayers shaved their heads and wore hideous goatees like the Nats' Fuehrer.

  20. estoppel.08 - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    I am interested in how following young position players perform against major league pitchers. Chris MarreroCorey BrownDerek NorrisBryce HarperEspecially, Marrero and Brown. I don't expect both of them make the 25 men roster, but I hope they hang in there until late March, which could increase the chance of mid-season (or september) call-up.

  21. raymitten - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    I'm most interested in the competitions in camp. Aside from Werth in RF, the entire outfield looks open to me — Morse, Ankiel, Morgan and Bernadina battling for two starting spots. I'm also interested in how the starting rotation shakes out. J Zim, Livo, Lannan, Gorz, and Marquis seem to be the 'favorites' going in, but exactly how 'set in stone' is this?

  22. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    How does Ryan Wallace Zimmerman feel about the loss of Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham?

  23. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    I'd like to second Grant's suggestion…a recurring piece (or similar) about the new trade arrivals & their progress would be pretty cool. Would also love to know how you think Norris is doing…I keep hearing that he has to work on his defense, but if memory serves, he threw out over 50% of would-be base stealers last season.

  24. JayB - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Change over time with respect to accountability for hard work and mastering basic fundamentals of the game. It does not talent to hit a cut off man or call a pop up. It does take talent to learn to bunt or move a runner over by hitting the ball on the ground to the right side. When these High School basic are ignored yet again….who is going to step up and say something and who is going to get sent packing.

  25. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    Mark,Will you be including audio posts during Spring training. Once the season begins will you be providing audio upcoming series reviews.All the best.

  26. Feel Wood - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    "I'm interested in Ramos/Flores competition, and the odds they'll become our catching tandem in the future. Is there a way to get both of them enough playing time until Pudge goes on to whatever's next?"This one is easy. Both Ramos and Flores have options left, so one of them plays full time at Syracuse and the other one splits time with Pudge. All other things being equal, you'd think Flores would be the one to go to Syracuse to play full time since he hasn't played at all for almost two full seasons. Flores would probably have to tear it up in ST while Ramos totally tanks in order for Ramos to get sent down. And of course whichever one is in Syracuse will be called up during the season (possibly more than once) if Pudge gets hurt or traded.

  27. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    I am desperate to know who has reported in the best shape of their life. Also, who is upbeat about the club's chances this year and expects the Nats to beat expectations. I'd also like to know who's just excited to be back out there and can't wait for Opening Day!

  28. DFL - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Anon, Norris threw out 51 % of base stealers last season at Potomac. Although Norris' BA and power numbers were down last season, his batting discipline is excellent for such a young hitter. Does Norris force his way as a Major League starter in 2012?

  29. Souldrummer - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    @AnonymousI'm curious what Mark's answer will be on that one, but it seems to me that Comcast will have him doing audio and video stuff and I know that he will be on Sports Reporters at 0980 on an occasional basis as well as doing regular segments on 0980 which will be in their audio vault.But I too am curious about how much of the insider-like content will be more public now.

  30. markfd - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Mark – I would like to see coverage of the following: -rotation and bullpen battles – maybe some profiles of the new guys on the team – the OF battle; will Nyjer hand on to his starting role; will Riggleman stick with his plan to platoon, Morse and Bernadina; who will be the 4th and 5th OF; and a spin off who will fill out the final bench spots.

  31. yankish2 - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Does Jim Riggleman plan any changes to his managerial style and strategies in 2011? As he looks forward to the new season, what keeps him from having a really good night's sleep? Are there any noticeable differences between Spring training 2011 and 2010? What's being emphasized; is anything being de-emphasized?

  32. Constant Reader - Feb 7, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Jenn: Great profile. Thanks for the link.

  33. waddu eye no - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    "Let me know what you think, and I'll do my best to focus on the issues most-pressing to you readers upon my arrival in Viera next week."wow. a reporter who takes requests. love it. have a great trip, and channel as much warm weather this way as you can

  34. EastBayNatsFan - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    I'll second what P. Cole said. "Is Drew Storen ready to be a full-time closer?" That, to me, is one of the keys to this year and the near future. I'll be watching his spring really closely. Also interested in the progress of Ramos, Flores, and Norris. If they're all mostly ready for prime time, a surplus of good young catchers makes excellent trade bait. And we could still use a top-flight starter and/or a credible leadoff hitter.

  35. Bernie - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Here are some questions I'd like to ask if I could ask them, please them for me Mark…How would the Nats leaving Viera impact the local economy? Where do the big leaguers go to eat versus the minor leaguers vs the media? ( Asking fan there at Viera for S.T.) How is your experience there at Viera? Would you like the Nats to move to Orlando or Ft.Myers and why?Thanks Mark keep on keeping on…

  36. alexva - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    I would like your take on Yunesky Maya's assimilation to the team and the USA vs. what you saw last year in his brief time here. I cannot imagine that is easy leaving your family behind whether you are pursuing your dream or not.

  37. James - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Mark,The main storylines for this Spring, most notably position-battles for some slots, have been beaten to death in the last three months in the Nats blogosphere.I would focus your efforts on storylines that are emerging over the course of the Spring that only someone close to the action and the players can detect. Clubhouse chemistry angles are always welcome (and juicy), but I suspect are fraught with peril for a reporter who actually wants to get another interview.

  38. sec3mysofa - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    Agreed, CR…nice work, Jenn!SSFM, I'm less interested in the crystal ball stuff, snd I know the basic reportage will be there, but I would enjoy some background–just a bit–on off-the-field stuff: families who came down (or up) to see and encourage, maybe one or two posts on the loyal regulars like Natsjack and yes, Jayb, among others, who attend and observe every year. If they are using any new or unconventional tech for training purposes, that would be interesting, too. (E.g., I remember a few years ago Carlos Beltran brought his own pitching machine balls, with special colors and numbers on the balls. The idea was to hit only a certain color, or numbered, ball, to help with reaction and identification.)

  39. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    "Is Drew Storen ready to be a full-time closer? That, to me, is one of the keys to this year and the near future. I'll be watching his spring really closely."As was plainly evident from Matt Capps's sucky spring performance last year, you really can't evaluate a closer's mettle during spring training, since there is never a save situation.

  40. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    "I would enjoy some background–just a bit–on off-the-field stuff: families who came down (or up) to see and encourage, maybe one or two posts on the loyal regulars like Natsjack and yes, Jayb, among others, who attend and observe every year."There's already a reality show that covers this in a much more graphic and disgusting way than Mark ever could. It's called Nats320.

  41. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Good one, Alexva; but how's your Spanish, Mark?Sec3

  42. N. Cognito - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    Do you eat at Applebee's or do you like good food?

  43. Steve M. - Feb 7, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Perfect place for me to Post the video of the hardest working guy heading into Spring Training, COREY BROWN!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63pofpU1pSkI remember JayB talking last year about how guys like Dukes didn't come into camp in optimal shape (which was debated) but here is a player on the 40 man who is going to show everyone who he is and taking nothing for granted!

  44. Anonymous - Feb 7, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    In his three seasons with the organizaton, Tom Milone has gone 25-16, 2.98, 9.2/1.3/8.8, playing for Double-A Harrisburg last season. Yet he isn't talked about as a real prospect, that he is just another "average" John Lannan type.But in Lannan's 62 minor league starts–exactly the same number as Milone–he went 22-20, 3.95, 8.9/3.4/6.3.Milone struck out more, walked less, had an ERA a full run lower, and yet Lannan was in the majors at the same point in his career.What's the deal with Milone? Are his numbers a prevarication or is he the real deal?Here is a link to a story I wrote about him last August (I'm just a blogger, not a super-scribe like Mark) if anyone is interested in the Lannan-like lefty. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/433719-tom-milone-blossoming-in-minors-could-be-nationals-next-john-lannanFarid

  45. Anonymous8 - Feb 7, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    SteveM – Good video. Thanks for posting and nice to see what some of these guys are doing in the off-season.I think the speed & agility training is so important for baseball players.

  46. Les in NC - Feb 7, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    I would like to know what Randy Knorr thought about his experience with all of his charges on the AFL team he managed this fall. Also, where he thinks Harper's talent level is comparatively. I know he (Harper) needs to pay his dues in the low levels, but I would like an inside take on his skill level and the others as well.

  47. Feel Wood - Feb 7, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    At the time Lannan was brought up, the starting staff was in much worse shape than it is now. Chico? Simontacchi? Bacsik? Mike O'Connor? There was room for a Lannan-type then. Not now, though. Emerging Lannan-type starters go to the end of a long line.

  48. Pete - Feb 7, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    I'd like to see an explanation of why Nyjer Morgan is still the starting CF.

  49. Wally - Feb 7, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Hi MarkReally looking forward to some actual baseball news. As for suggestions on what to report on, it is always hard to know what to make of ST numbers, for a variety of reasons like small sample size, players working on different things, etc. So a running commentary on how the players are performing separate from their stats would be helpful (you know, the scouting side v. the sabremetric side).

  50. Theophilus - Feb 7, 2011 at 8:05 PM

    Wally — Yes! The sabremetricians rule in the offseason. (WAR sounds like a government agency.) Once the bats and gloves come out, it's what the eyes see that count.

  51. VladiHondo - Feb 7, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Love for you to have a talk with Rizzo/Clark etc. about the status of Dominican operations.A) Why no 6 figure signings since Smiley-gate? Do they anticipate any future high $$ signings or is that no longer a part of their modus operandi?B) Any thought of a Venezuelan Summer League team? Or co-operating with another team to have a joint effort?C) Will Smiley-Not ever play in the US?D) Interanational signings – thank them for ending the signing of DSL retreads – Ask their impression of last years class (Wirkin Estevez, etc.) and have they signed any one of note so far. Why are they not forthcoming about any of their signings?

  52. Finrockets - Feb 7, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    Andrew said… I am most curious in following the progress of Jordan Zimmermann, the fielding of Ian Desmond, the hitting stroke of Espinosa, and the status of Nyjer Morgan. All of the above, plus whether Bernadina is stepping up to the next level.

  53. The Adventurers - Feb 7, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    1. Nyjer Morgan, what does he think about his future?2. Is there more to improving the defense than acquiring new players? 3. A comparison of the Opening Day rosters from the last 5 years.

  54. Section 223 - Feb 7, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    Actually, just how JZ the pitcher is doing. I see him as a pivotal figure in the team"s progress this year. Honestly not trying to burden the man with everything, but I think his progress (or not) will have a very decided impact on how the team does this year.

  55. mjr - Feb 7, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Wow, thanks Steve M. My heartrate shot up just watching that video.

  56. upperdeck4 - Feb 7, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    First, the health of the starting pitching. Second, whether Bernadina, Espinosa, Ankiel, and Brown can hit. Third, do HRod and Elvin Ramirez have what it takes?

  57. mjr - Feb 7, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    P.S. Mark, one of my favorite spring training posts from last year came from your colleague at WaPo writing about a session he did with Rick Eckstein. For me, anything about the nitty-gritty of being a pro ball-player – drills, skills, spills, thrills – would be interesting. That said…anything you care to write about will probably be interesting so…never mind.

  58. Mark'd - Feb 7, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Taking what Andrew said let me expound on some thoughts. For early camp, we have pitchers and catchers so I want to also hear how JZimmermann looks and Ramos/Flores and any observations on any of the pitching long shots.When position players arrive I want to hear how Espinosa is doing after the hamate bone surgery. I want to hear how Nyjer is at the start of camp as he is my pick as the Dukes of 2011.As camp goes on, I want to hear how Bryce Harper does against MLB veterans and lastly how the 25 man roster is shaping out.

  59. BinM - Feb 7, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    @anon-2:18 – Farid, Milone certainly has better minor-league numbers than Lannan at the same point, but comes along at a time when the Nationals rotation is certainly more stable than it was four years ago. Milone will probably go to SYR this spring; If he continues to put up anything close to his career numbers, he'll force his way onto the roster.

  60. Mark'd - Feb 7, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    Steve M. – really enjoyed the Corey Brown video link. Will he be posting more?

  61. Eugene, Oregon - Feb 7, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    From an editor's standpoint, I strongly recommend a heavy focus on Mr. Harper. We know he's not going to make the big league team out of Spring Training. But I would guesstimate that he has about a 33% chance of advancing quickly through the A and AA levels and ending up as a September call-up (where he would be likely to stick for all of 2012). That kind of upward mobility would be a glorious story for you to tell (and could make for a nice book contract!) and for all of us to read. Even if Harper fizzles, that's still a story worth telling given the hype that surrounds him. No offense to the rest of the team, but Harper is the only long-term story line that will be remembered beyond this year's Spring Training.

  62. joemktg - Feb 7, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    One more item to focus on: how you're killing your car's mileage with these long trips. Haven't you considered the autotrain?

  63. natsfan1a - Feb 7, 2011 at 11:33 PM

    No special ST request, other than to affirm that I liked what you did last spring, so more of the same, please (if you can, given your expanded CSN gig). Well, you don't have to send us postcards, but as far as coverage goes. :-)Speaking of gigs, congrats on landing the NL and AL preview sections for the USA Today baseball preview magazine. Just picked it up over the weekend and am enjoying reading it.

  64. Jim Webster - Feb 8, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    If time permits, tell us winterbound folks about the weather in Viera. Either make us wish we were there or tell us it's like last year when it was cold and windy and the Yankees game was rained out. After four trips to Space Coast, I really regret that I won't be there this time. Oh yes, and tell us about any food better than Svrluga found at Panera Bread at the Viera Mall.

  65. Don Fuller - Feb 8, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Everyone else has covered defense and pitching, so how about general offense?What have the players been doing in the offseason to strengthen their hitting skills, what will Rick Eckstein do this year to get our hitters, you know, actually hitting the ball.

  66. BinM - Feb 8, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    The real storylines could come from 1)How much of your Spring Training excursion is CSNWashington willing to foot, 2)How long is your 'better half' willing to let you play in Viera without her, and 3)Who survives in the SP/RP/OF battles for roster spots, and why.

  67. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 12:37 AM

    I'd like to see a serious, in-depth story about Wang. Is he a anomaly? Or, will he turn it around? The Nats keep signing this guy and he still hasn't thrown a pitch (for the Nats). Can he come back? If he does, where does he fit and who goes?

  68. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    So, Mark, how's your Mandarin?S3

  69. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    Is Roger Bernadina the Last Expo?

  70. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    There were some early posts that asked for more info on Marrero and Detwiler. My request is an addendum to those. I would be interested in an evaluation of their work habits. How do they train? How committed are they to their profession? I will confess that in reading about them over the past couple of years I have often wondered about their commitment to that part of their game. Thanks.fpcsteve

  71. BinM - Feb 8, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    @anon7:51 – It's between Bernadina (IFA-2001) & Desmond (drafted-2004), as far as I can tell for the last Expo standing.

  72. Mr. NATural - Feb 8, 2011 at 2:10 AM

    Mark,Thanks for asking:I would love to hear your reporting on why our pitchers can't hit or sacrifice bunt. A mix of coaches and pitchers would be perfect interviews for this report.Would really like some sense, during ST, of our infield's progression on turning the double play. They are going to have to develop FAST.I'd enjoy a challenging interview with Eckstein. This guy, by 100% of accounts, is one of the most decent, dedicated men in baseball. The Nats320 story on him donating a kidney to his brother was a truly outstanding piece of reporting. But I want to hear a tough interview where someone challenges Eckstein on his CULT of the pitch-count. He's got our guys watching WAY TOO MANY pitches. Most times the best pitch our guys see in an AB is watched, because they're kneeling before the Pitch Count God. Can you take this one on?Two last items, one obscure, one important:Obscure: Can you find out why Nats on-deck batters so often fail to get the bat out of the way of an incoming Nats' runner speeding toward the plate? I saw some near-injuries due to this lost fundamental, and would enjoy it if you could find out if they still teach this principle.Important: Ask our outfielders (especially Morgan) and the outfield coaches why our outfielders (again, especially NM) miss the cutoff man so often?Ultimate request to you: Based on everything you see at ST, make YOUR prediction on what our record will be within the NL East this year.

  73. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 2:32 AM

    A lot will be answered by seeing the initial Major league, SYR and Harrisburg rotations at the beginning of spring. Have to assume Stras will spend a lot of time in Viera during the season working his arm back into shape. An interesting spring in which Mock, Detwiler, Maya, and Wang will be watched closely … starting with whether the velocity of their pitches has improved from last year.

  74. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 2:33 AM

    And BinM, wasn't Matt Stairs an Expo first?

  75. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    A clarification: Last Expo Standing, not Last Former Expo. And thank you, BinM.Sec3MySofa, posting anonymously because my phone's browser hates this blog, evidently.

  76. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 3:28 AM

    sec3 my eye!Then BinM's "list" is short a couple of players? First there's Bally otherwise known as Colin Balester drafted by MTL in 2004. He just might end up as a fixture in the Nats bullpen. Then there's Atahualpa Severino who did get a cup of coffee in the majors last season. Seth Bynum is still playing 2nd base for the Chiefs even after last year's suspension for using PED's.

  77. Nattydread - Feb 8, 2011 at 5:07 AM

    MarkPlease find out what happened to Jimbo's Segway.

  78. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    And find out more about Joy who just might be "hotter" than "Flop's" wife.

  79. Another_Sam - Feb 8, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    I vote for more of the same as as last year. I too would like to hear your resturant tips, other tips for visiting fans. {My oft-offered tips include stay at the Holiday Inn on Wickam (sp?) but stay locally in Viera only when the Nats are home. And — Coasters on A1A for beer. Note that edible, urbane food is hard to come by in the Melbourne-Viera-Palm Bay area. Just IMHO. LOL] IMHO the big story this year is which of the many Nigers that we've seen will show up. I'm with the guy who opined here some weeks ago that there must have been something going with NM last year. I hope he's got it together this year. He's surely one of the exciting players on the roster. I almost gave up on him last year that time when he didn't slide at the plate late in the game with the tying run, but bowled over the catcher instead. Foolish, and bush league, IMHO.MZ – Is the talk that the club may move from Viera just noise to get a sweeter deal? I recall that a while back the thinking was that the club was locked into Viera and SCS for a long time.And I've about had it with the hot stoving and I'm ready for the zen of the game that makes it so appealing to me. Play ball.

  80. Another_Sam - Feb 8, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    And oh yeah — right on regarding Lannan, you people who have been skeptical. A nice guy I'm sure but I've seen him often enough to know the story. And here's a reprise: last spring I didn't see a good swing from Morse in the whole week I watched 'em. In my eyes he never recovered.One more thing: here's the big story — who are the second tier closers at Harrisburg and Potomac? [JUST KIDDING!]

  81. Joe Sommer - Feb 8, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    I'm interested in the prospects of a late spring trade. The winter roster was built with trade bait in mind: Flores, a raft of #4-5 pitchers, deep bullpen depth, players who can make Bernardina or Morse available, etc. Could the Nationals trade a bunch of decent players during spring training for one good player?

  82. Mississippi Snopes - Feb 8, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    I second Wally's comment. The sample sizes during spring training are way too small to be meaningful measures of performance, especially given that during the early weeks of spring training the at-bats and innings pitched do not resemble MLB game conditions. The managers and coaches certainly know this and obviously would place more weight on career stats than a few weeks of spring training stats.So the spring training "competitions" are judged on something other than the raw statistics. I'd love to hear more about what that "something" is. In deciding who will be designated the closer, what exactly are Riggleman and McCatty going to look at — control in the zone, velocity, work ethic, "fire in the gut"? Similarly, in deciding who is the second catcher, what will be the deciding factor? Speed in throwing to second base? Bat speed? Conditioning? We're all fascinated by the outcome of these contests — Storen, Clippard, or Rodriguez; Bernadina, Morse, Ankiel, or Brown — but it would be great to learn more about exactly how the coaching staff is "keeping score."Thanks, Mark whatever you do, I'm sure it will be great. And thanks for asking for reader input.

  83. Sunderland - Feb 8, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    IMO, unless something unforseen happens (injury or trade), Flores will be sent to Syracuse so that he can play everyday. He's at a point where he needs to play everyday for a while, and that ain't gonna happen in DC if Pudge is still here. I'm wondering about something that may be hard to define and discern. Is anything different about the team based on the new roster makeup? Rizzo wanted guys with character, with a certain type of makeup. Is there any evidence based on the way that they conduct themselves that he got what he wanted, and that this will contribute positively to performance?

  84. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    IMO, unless something unforseen happens (injury or trade), Flores will be sent to Syracuse so that he can play everyday. He's at a point where he needs to play everyday for a while, and that ain't gonna happen in DC if Pudge is still here.This could actually become an issue. Both Flores and Norris need to play everyday and catch. Although BA thinks Norris will end as a first baseman. He is athletic enough to be a great catcher but needs 2 solid years of catching almost every game. He will surely start in Harrisburg but Syracuse seems not that far a leap for him as well …You almost have to assume that an ensuing trade of Flores or Ramos at some point?

  85. SpringfieldFan - Feb 8, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    Antonelli.

  86. Stew Magnuson - Feb 8, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    One funny thing that happened to me during my one and only visit to Space Coast Stadium was grabbing a batting practice ball that came up into the stands. It turned out to be a leftover from the 2005 All Star game in Detroit. Pretty cool souvenir!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 73 54 --
ATLANTA 68 61 6.0
MIAMI 64 63 9.0
NEW YORK 60 69 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 57 71 17.5
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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