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Quiet camp is good for Nats

Feb 28, 2011, 12:05 AM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jim Riggleman has presided over a Nats camp lacking in the usual drama.

VIERA, Fla. — Walking around the practice fields near Space Coast Stadium for the last two weeks, you tend to strike up conversations with all sorts of people. Players. Coaches. Team execs. Fans. Other media members.

Overwhelmingly this spring, there has been a common sentiment among all those different interested parties: This Nationals camp feels different than previous ones.

What's the difference? One particular phrase seems to keep coming up: There's a more professional tone to the proceedings.

Indeed, it does feel like there's less need for basic instruction and teaching this spring. Players are using their time simply to get their work in and get themselves ready for the season.

It helps that the roster boasts far more veterans than in the past, guys like Matt Stairs, Jerry Hairston, Rick Ankiel and Alex Cora. It also helpsRead more »

  1. JayB - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    Nice Mark….just what these tired eyes have been longing to see for years…..No Lastings and his poor work ethic, no Dukes and his issues….No Patterson and Hill as your number 1's….no Anderson Hernandez as your starting 2b… Robert Fick or Nook Logan…No Acta learning on the job…… did not have to be this bad or take this long to just put a basic MLB work ethic into place……But again…this is just what I was asking for so……lets go play 2 and win them both!

  2. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    JayB, Mr. Optimist. It must be spring training.

  3. JayB - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    I was down there for just under 2 hours….I have been every year since 2007….often more than one visit a year….I will be back soon if all goes as planned…..As I posted 10 days ago…this is a much different team. Guys are in shape and professional. If Rizzo had pulled off two of those starting pitching efforts…..they could have been well over .500….as it is…with some luck they will be 82-80…..just better CF and Starting Pitching……make some trades if you can Rizzo….you are clearly on the right track….as I have posted for years…fundamentals and team first play…goes a long way to winning a high school game and a MLB game….finally we are about to see it happen. Rizzo is one made Italian…..he wants respect now.

  4. masnstinks - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    Music to my ears!

  5. WhatsaNattaU - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:03 AM

    Thank you JayB for expressing your sentiments. Life is good. Maybe the baseball will be good to this year.

  6. Positively Half St. - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    JB-It really is nice to see you post with some hope. You are harder to win over than most.+1/2St.

  7. Sunderland - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:49 AM

    Mark – really nice perspective, thanks. This is one sign of the progress Rizzo has made. Another sign is going to be the roster of our AAA affiliate, with some actual legitimate MLB prospects. We've never really needed to have a AAA team prior to this year. Last year, and in previous years, we used AA for prospects and tried to put a decent team at AAA made up of fringe / aged MLB journeymen. If we did not have a AAA team last year, nothing would be the worse for it.This will be the first year that we actually need a AAA affiliate, a place to put MLB ready prospects. Cool

  8. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    One caveat though … Mark mentions Garrett Mock among those of the past. I trust Rizzo and as much if not more than Rizzo guys like Roy Clark et al. THERE IS A REASON Garrett Mock is in this year's camp and a part of this crew. Detwiler looks to be the most improved but I wouldn't count out Mock, nor JD Martin, nor God forbid Yuniesky Maya JayB's major International signing.If starting pitching is going to get these Nats over the .500 hump it will have to come from Zimmermann, Detwiler, Yuniesky and Mock with the addition of Gorzelanny … and not from Livo, Marquis and Lannan. Those last three cannot go up against the best pitcher of any NL East team and expect to win. But those first five just might …

  9. phil .dunn - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:10 AM

    This sounds promising. It looks like Rizzo has disposed of all the bad eggs that Bowden acquired.

  10. Carl in 309 - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:51 AM

    While Spring Training is the time to be optimistic (hope Springs eternal), and it is a reality that most teams have this professionalism built into their culture (years of MLB abuse denied us that foundation), it is heartening to read that we have quality players available for 25 roster spots. It means in essence that the Nationals have gotten back to even. It can give us hope but doesn't mean we're entitled to win 81 games. Still,it adds greater urgency for me to hurry home from Asia to catch a late March spring training game and see these guys for real. Mark, eager to read one or two more cuts on this angle of Nats development between now and the trip North.

  11. Anonymous8 - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    Watching the Yankees game from this afternoon on time delay on the MLB Network. In the 7th inning, Domonic Brown just struck out for the 3rd time on another up and in swing and miss.It is the Yankees broadcasters who started a discussion on the Phillies losing Jayson Werth and how it is going to cost the Phillies in offense. They praised the Nationals on getting Jayson Werth too.

  12. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:01 AM

    I hate the Yankees and Orioles as much if not more than the Phillies.

  13. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    Is it just me or is Riggleman sending out the wrong body language discussing Elvin Ramirez? He swivels his chair back and forth in a way that makes me think he wishes Ramirez wasn't there for him to have to worry about?

  14. SonnyG10 - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:52 AM

    In my two days at ST, I thought everything seemed well organized and was running smoothly. Since this was my first trip ever to ST, I didn't have anything to compare it to. It's nice to read your perspective, Mark.

  15. Doc - Feb 28, 2011 at 5:18 AM

    As for the Riggleman interview, to me it's obvious that he was surprised by Ramirez's stuff and didn't know quite what to disclose to the press. He's got a lot of quality guys in the BP with more seniority, and here's Ramirez, a Rule 5 draftee, with what appears to be as much quality stuff as any of them.Afterall, with managers and the press it's a cat and mouse game, where managers only disclose to the press as little as they want them to know. They don't want the press to get ahead of them—which is what good reporters eventually do anyway.

  16. JayB - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    SonnyG…..In the Acta days….Spring Training was a joke….no all his fault…Lastings and Dukes types mixed with Lopez types…..nobody was on the same page….just going through motions or not trying at all….I have told the story about Milledge goofing in CF drills….trying to not to move and seeing if the fungo hitter can get it too him….Acta watching it and doing nothing…..I can not wait to get home tonight and see some Nats Baseball…..I think it is going to look very different this year. New TV guy…..heard him on MLB XM Radio….not very politically correct about his drinking habits…..I think he is going to put his foot in his mouth very early…..steroid guy too…..should be interesting!

  17. Steve - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Same as with others I'm happy to hear that the small steps continue. And I'm surprised to see that no has started up

  18. Big Cat - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    Dimitri Young… there is a blast from the past. Wonder what he is doing now. Probably in the buffet line at Old Country. Shame, the guy could hit

  19. JayB - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Young has been arrested for Pot as I recall while coaching…..Still think Dukes claims are made up? Still think Acta had a clue or that clubhouse make up means nothing?

  20. NAtsJack in Florida - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    After watching the Mets and Braves for 2 straight days, I can say that the Nats look to be the more athletic team of these 3. And our pitching staff is better than than the Mets but a notch below the Braves although Jamir Juergens didn't show much Saturday.

  21. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    can't have a circus without the carnival barker.

  22. Big Cat - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Hold on NatsJack, our two Visa boys aren't here yet. Wait'll they start bringin the gas. You might change your tune about pitching staffs.Hows Marrero and Kimball look?

  23. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Kimball looks great and Marrero looks like a DH.Almost every Brave pitcher under the age of 24 throws gas. And I'll take Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson as starters over just about anybody we have.

  24. JayB - Feb 28, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    I would be trying to trade Lannan, Livo, Jason M to Yanks and Cards….with cash for whatever you can get…..This team needs starters who can hit at least 92 MPH….make some of the reliever long jam into starting options….Clippard could do it.

  25. fpcsteve - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Interesing take on Marrero. Consistent, too. I have never seen him, but all the reports indicate he is an AL player. I can imagine the circumstances where he is traded during this season. For? Apparently more pitching or a CF prospect depending on how the big club is doing.

  26. NatinBeantown - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Anon at 9:06 (re: Garrett Mock),Yes, there is a reason Mock is still in this team's camp–he's still pretty young, and still has a live arm. There's a decent chance he can turn into a very useful pitcher for the Nats or someone else.I think Mark's point is that in previous years, that potential and raw talent would be enough (and last year, was enough) for Mock to crack the 25-man and head north to DC. Now, even with a great spring, he's got to produce and outperform at least 5 guys, many with as much talent. It's a nice place to be (finally).

  27. natsfan1a - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    In other news, read today's WJFK radio Nats announcement here:

  28. NatinBeantown - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Another thing I'm looking forward to in future Rizzo camps is the diminished presense of guys like Lannan and Livo (or Maya and Rosenbaum) as change of pace, "location" pitchers–aka the "soft tossers." I say that as a guy whose favorite Nats include those first two.One spot in the rotation can switch up the rotation and give the team an edge, but unfortunately we've generally had a rotation with 4-5 of these types as a rule. Rizzo is building a stable of arms to change that.

  29. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    There's JayB, Mr. "I hate personal attacks" himself, slandering the new Nats broadcaster before he's even uttered one word on their air. Typical JayB.

  30. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    @anon 9:38, please get a grip. Negative reviews aren't all ad hominem attacks. Yours just make Jayb look sympathetic, which I assume is not your goal.

  31. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Yeah, all JayB did was call the broadcaster a drunk and a juicer. Nothing ad hominem about that, of course. Because if it was, then the guy calling JayB a stoner yesterday would have been making an ad hominem attack too, and JayB would have been upset. Such a sympathetic character he is.

  32. Sunderland - Feb 28, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Thanks 1a, glad to see that the new radio deal is announced and official.

  33. Rat Man - Feb 28, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    The Nats are probably nervous about starting 10-24 with the season collapsing like an apartment building in Port-au-Prince in an earthquake.

  34. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 28, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    No, he did not call him a drunk, and Santangelo was named in the Mitchell Report, so referring to it might be rude, but it isn't slander. Jayb has been over the line sometimes, IMO, and I said so at the time, but Mark just got done asking you to take it outside. You are out of line here. Please stop. No one is amused.

  35. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    Before anyone gets hyped up about Mock's 'stuff', remember he still doesn't throw strikes.





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)...

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