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Lombardozzi outfield experiment begins

Mar 22, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Steve Lombardozzi played six innings in left field yesterday.

VIERA, Fla. — When Davey Johnson mentioned Tuesday evening he was thinking about trying out Steve Lombardozzi in the outfield, you figured that's not the kind of dramatic position change you'd see for a little while.

But then came the fifth inning yesterday at Space Coast Stadium, and who found himself trotting out to left field but Lombardozzi, the 23-year-old who had never spent a second playing anything but the infield in his professional career.

The remaining six innings during the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Braves proved uneventful for Lombardozzi. He did come charging in to make a semi-tough catch on a shallow fly ball. And he caught a medium-deep fly with a man on third in the 10th, unable to pull the trigger and attempt to gun down the tagging runner at the plate.

Otherwise, there wasn't much reason to even notice Lombardozzi inRead more ยป

  1. blovy8 - Mar 22, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    About time. The guy could be a better leadoff hitter than anyone else on the club. Are Ankiel, Bernadina, and presumably Carroll or Michaels worth playing over him the rest of spring training? I think not.

  2. Section 222 - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    New posted, sorry:@Tcostant, @NatsLady et al. — In previous years, when I ordered additional tickets through my Nats season ticket rep, there were no service charges (plus the tickets are sold at the STH rate, which is less than the single game price). This year, they have instituted a $5 charge per order, regardless of the number of tickets purchased (prices are still at the STH rate). Still better than the charges you incur online, through StubHub etc., but not the bargain it once was.For those who are not STHs, going to the box office remains the best deal. But if you can get an STH to get your tickets, the savings are not insignificant, even with the $5 charge, and the convenience can't be beat.I understand that an email will go out soon about Red Carpet Rewards and My Nationals Tickets. Better late than never I guess.

  3. NatsLady - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Lombo's probably got the speed for the outfield, does he have the arm?

  4. Bowdenball - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Blovy8, I don't agree. All the advanced projections have him at slightly lower or at best the same OBP and slugging as Bernadina, but with less speed on the basepaths and obviously much less experience in the outfield. I like him as a bench utility guy and maybe eventually a replacement for Desmond in the middle infield if the bat improves. But for now he doesn't bring anything to the lineup other than not losing that much on off days for Desmond, Espi and the weakest OF.

  5. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Sports can be so perplexing to the layman. So Lombardozzi gets trotted out in the middle of a game to play LF for the first time since who knows when (including never as a pro), while Harper needs to prove he can play the outfield on a consistent basis before they call him up? I dont get it.And why does everyone insist Desmond is un-demotable ("not about to unseat")?!? Who here would complain if Espinosa went to short, Lombardozzi to 2B, and it was Desmond, not Lombardozzi, who got a turn in the infield or outfield every third or fourth game? not me.And while I am complaining, anyone else besides me just roll their eyes and gag when they read articles like WaPo's on how "ornery" and "unapproachable" Strasburg is during games? It's such f**** bs how these legends and mystiques get created. And people wonder why young athletes are full of themselves. Kid comes back from the mound, and i am coacing in that dugout and didnt like something I saw, i tell the kid to look at me, shut the f&** up, and listen to what I have to say. Ooooh, ooooh, I am a 55 year old man and I just quake in my shoes and pee down my leg if I have to tell Stras he's overthrowing the ball in the middle of a game.Rant over.

  6. sjm308 - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I like the idea of increasing the "value" of keeping Lombo up in the majors this year. Obviously, the more positions he can play, the more value he has to the team. Once again, Davey talked about getting him 300 ab this year and it looks like that will be the case.This will drive the Desmond haters crazy, but it appears that Davey just doesn't read NatsInsider.I read somewhere that while Davey acknowledges the poor obp of our first two hitters, he is more concerned about their ability to drive in runs and do other things. I am guessing that Ian and Danny are set at their positions both in the field and in the lineup. Will Davey make a switch if Desmond starts slowly? I am pretty sure he will but its a fairly long rope. Competition is great but so is knowing that you have the support of your manager.Go Nats!!

  7. sjm308 - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Rant away anon and what a lovely tell that you would use the f word to a kid. Sure would love to play for you! "shut up" is another lovely way to communicate. Pretty sure you have your teams respect with that kind of verbage. I am not innocent enough to think those kinds of words are not used at all levels but its just not the style I see with this group of coaches.By the way, in two years SS has never been classified as "full of himself" pretty sure that people that tell others to "shut up" might be a little more full of themselves then others.rant over

  8. Richard - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Who else do the Nats have in ST that's a utility IF besides Lombardozzi? Lombo would appear to be it. Last year they had Cora and they've had others, but I can't think of who they have this ST other than Lombo. Hey, Lombo's goin' north! I guess they could bring in someone if they want Lombo to play everyday with the Chiefs. …BTW, is anyone else getting tried of Johnson interviews? Example, Lombo isn't a utility guy, he told Lombo so; now he is. And ALL his guys are just wonderful, up and comers, or seasoned vets, or … whatever. How about some mild criticism Davey. Your team hasn't won in 10 days; re their base running, they seems to laugh themselves off the bases; and they can't score. Your team's OBP in the top two spots in the order is ugly. Okay, Desi looked good yesterday. Go Desi! But why commit to Desi and Espi before they achieve much. Maybe Lombo is better, especially leading off. Maybe Johnson's intent with all the constant Pollyanna stuff is to build confidence in the young guys. It's just getting a bit old …

  9. NatsLady - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Didn't know about the $5.00 charge, didn't see it on my bill but I will check. I ordered before the box office was open. Do they charge the $5.00 at the box office?

  10. NatsLady - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Oh, I was tired of Davey interviews already last year. Don't pay him any mind. Just see how the team plays.

  11. NatsBrat - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Anon @ 10.25: Goofy meaningless rants will only elevate your blood pressure; it's not too late for you to get a life!

  12. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    sjm308, it's not me, anon, it's me anon in the character of a 55-year old baseball lifer, who by the way can be quite ornery themselves, or did you never watch Bull Durham and assorted other baseball movies. I dont think baseball as a field is considered a bastion of high brow behavior (see dipping, cup-adjusting).

  13. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    unlike you apparently, natsbrat, I am able to multitask and rant away while still enjoying my life very muh, thank you!

  14. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Lombo plays the OF when Desmond stays at SS? Idiots.

  15. jd - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Desmond and Espinosa are your middle infield. This was never in doubt for the start of the year; as it turns out Desmond is actually hitting better than Espinosa. As the Season develops DJ may find that hitting these 2 back to back at the top of the order is a problem unless one or the other starts getting on base regularly. You don't want Zim coming up with 2 outs and none on all the time. I still feel that Werth has some value batting 2nd.

  16. bdrube - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    @Richard – praise in public, criticize in private. That's management 101 in any organization. I would gather that the private conversations are not nearly so congenial.

  17. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    sjm308, the larger point is that the entire article is bs. they're creating this aura of strasburg, mr quiet and unassuming 5-6 days a week, and strasburg the ordinary cuss 1-2 days a week. the article was supposed to make you believe that management saw strasburg overthrowing and not pitching to uggla et al. and rather than confront him about it, knew to stay away because of how "intense" he is on gameday. it's a bunch of bull. if it even truly happened that no one spoke to him during his outing, the only reason would be that it was ST. or do you seriously believe that on oct 3rd against the phils with the pennant on the line and strasburg once again needing a slight correction to how he's pitching, they'd just wait till the next day when he's calmed down (and after the season is over!) to gently and politely tell him he f*** up?

  18. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    If Desi starts the season as he did last year, that is enough for me to give up on him. We have other options now, and will have even more when Rendon is ready. I don't see Rizzo giving him much more time to prove himself. I think there is a good chance he is no longer with the team come September.

  19. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Espi and Desi are on the upswing? Not sure I see that happening yet. Not sure who Lombo pissed off, but the Nats just don't love him, depite his consistent solid performance, the way they love Desmond's eratic but with more upside game.

  20. DFL - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    When Kevin Mitchell originally came up in '86, Davey Johnson played him all over the place. All three outfield positions. Shortstop for 24 games. Third base, where he would start the next season, only for 7 games. First base twice. Perhaps Lombardozzi will get 400+ At Bats by playing super-utility. As for the Spring trials of Ian Desmond, remember that Danny Espinosa has had a difficult Spring as well. Desmond has hit better than Espinosa. Could Espinosa find himself on the pine or in Syracuse some time this year. His best hitting in 2011 was before Johnson arrived. The scenario of Lombardozzi starting at second and Espinosa at short is not the only scenario possible. Perhaps a line-up of Lombardozzi leading off and playing second and Desmond playing shortstop and batting second, seventh or eighth is also possible.

  21. Feel Wood - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    When I bought a dozen or so tickets at the box office the morning it opened for single game sales, I paid no fee on top of the STH price I paid for the tickets. Buying over the phone, YMMV.

  22. MJR - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Got new-posted so just wanted to make sure I say "thanks" to those who explained the LannEn spelling thing. I'm on the bandwagon now…every 5th day, LannEn it is!

  23. Section 222 - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    @NatsLady– No charge at the box office as far as I know. Anon 10:25's rant was hardly goofy or meaningless. He made some interesting points. I sure hope McCatty's not too intimidated to talk with Strasburg between innings if he thinks he's overthrowing, or sees a hitch in his delivery, or has a suggestion on who to approach a key hitter who's up in the next inning. Strasburg is sensational, but surely he can benefit from some in game coaching at least for a few more years. As for Lombo in the outfield, I'm glad DJ is giving him an opportunity to play those positions during ST, rather than throwing him out there at a key point in the late innings like Riggleman did with Guzman a few years back. (That's still one of the all time worst coaching decisions in history as far as I'm concerned. Guzman misplayed a line drive against the Astros, costing us a game.). There surely is an irony though in declaring that Lombo will play some outfield this year when he's never played an inning out there just days after Harper is sent to AAA in part because they want him to get experience in CF.

  24. NatsLady - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    From Twitter:The Nationals have introduced the 8-pound Strasburger. Perhaps the Yankees should rename their overpriced hotdogs the ARod-dogs.

  25. Section 222 - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    @FeelWood — good to know they will give you the STH price at the box office. Thanks. I paid a bunch of fees buying extras online during the presale. Still, happy to have my whole ticket group in the park on O.D.

  26. sm13 - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Not to distract from the tasteless ranting, but, after solving the case of the vanishing Drew, I was hoping Mark could find out where Craig Stammen has been. He seems to have disappeared mysteriously after pitching so well.

  27. A DC Wonk - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    while Harper needs to prove he can play the outfield on a consistent basis before they call him up?Nice strawman. Harper needs to prove he can hit MLB pitching before they can call him up. Or didn't you notice he was completely overmatched?Richard wrote: Maybe Johnson's intent with all the constant Pollyanna stuff is to build confidence in the young guys.Uhhh . . . . That's been his MO for decades. (And, also agree with bdrube: "praise in public, criticize in private.")

  28. Unkyd - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Agree with all points, Wonk…

  29. sm13 - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    Natslady: that A-fraud hotdog is going to need to be infused with extra juice.

  30. natsfan1a - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    sm13, I got it! Er, I mean, hah!

  31. DWS - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    New post anytime now Mark!

  32. alexva - Mar 22, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    I don't think there is a chance that he starts over Desmond or Espinosa on Opening Day but if either struggles through April and into May I think Davey would like to have Lombo seated to his right to fill in. I don't think any more time in AAA would be to his benefit, he needs to be in the show, with the team and getting comfortable being a major leaguer on a daily basis. I have my doubts about Desmond and Espinosa is not a #2 hitter. I'd expect Lombo to be an every day player at some point this year.

  33. Theophilus - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Lombardozzi is the only utility IF on the roster worth mentioning. The only way he gets to be starter in the IF is if some people on this list have their fantasies fulfilled and Desmond is traded to the Australian League for some animal named Skippy. Now it may turn out after watching Carroll or Michaels imitate Alex Cintron for awhile that he's also the only spare OF worth mentioning. So be it. He can be thrown in there w/out vast amounts of experience because he's not gonna be starting, won't be asked to play there more than an inning or two (or at most a game or two) at the time, won't be anybody's late inning replacement for defensive purposes. The Nats' depth issues aren't really going to be resolved until (A) Morse and LaRoche are healthy; (B) Harper and probably someone else (Hoffpauir? Brown?) gets called up. After Tracy is thru being LaRoche's Opening Day replacement, I'm beginning to hope the Nats acquire a 3rd string catcher so they can use Flores's bat off the bench.

  34. Theophilus - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Any LH-hitting backup catchers available out there?

  35. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Why Lombardozzi in the OF? Can't anyone in the organization see that Desmond would be the perfect outfielder? Desmond has a great arm and very good range! Put Espinosa at SS and Lombardozzi at 2nd.

  36. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    I'm bummed about Storen. Mark's new tweet about "discomfort" during a game of catch is disheartening, to say the least. I believe I've seen it written here before, and dismissed it as nonsense, but now I am not so sure – let's just give ALL Of our pitchers TJ surgery now and get it out of the way.

  37. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    So, Harper has to prove he can hit MLB pitching before he comes up, but Desmond's 1,000+ AB's which show he can't hit MLB pitching is no reason to send him down? Note that I am not even mentioning Ian's near league worst glove over the last two years either as a reason he might need some mroe seasoning of his own on the farm.

  38. bdrube - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    alexva is correct. This is Desmond's make or break year as a starter. The Nats are going to give him ample opportunity to succeed or fail. The fact is, he has more natural ability than Lombo. Whether he is ever able to harness that ability is another matter. Desi is the starter the same reason that EJax is the Number 4 starting pitcher over Lannan despite his career ERA being nearly half a run higher…no one could argue that Lannan has more raw talent than Jackson.

  39. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    It's good that Lombo might get some OF time as that will put him at or near the top of the roder on some days. Love or hate Ian Desmond, he's not a legitimate leadoff guy even when he's playing well.

  40. Steve M. - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Steve M. said… I really think Lombardozzi needs to play in Syracuse and play some outfield. His value as a switch-hitting Mr. Everything would be huge on this team.February 15, 2012 11:41 AMNice of Gonat to find this old post. I have found over the years the humbling of young infielders that they want that MLB time any way they can get it, and any time you have a heart to heart with one of these guys they will tell you that they would play outfield if thats what it would take. Infielders sometimes make decent outfielders however the reverse usually never works.Lombardozzi and Rendon are 2 of those infielders blocked by talent above them.If you ask either of them if they would play LF, the answer would be "Heck yeah". 1st couple of times I brought it up here I had people tell me it will never happen. I guess "never" just happened with Lombardozzi.

  41. Steve M. - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Chipper Jones announced he will retire after the season.

  42. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    New post

  43. Erik - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    DC Wonk-How is Harper supposed to learn how to hit Major League pitching in the minor leagues??? Even if Harper struggled in DC he would still be better than almost everyone else in that lineup. He hit .286 in 9 games in spring training and you say he is overmatched…9 GAMES(best Ferris Bueller principal voice). He also got hurt right in the middle of those 9 GAMES and came back to face CC, Pineda, and a LH specialist who nobody can hit. So what…he had 4 K's in one game. Werth does that like 10 times a season. When the Nats are scoring 2 runs per game early this season, come back and tell me that Harper shouldn't be in the line-up. He will not learn how to hit quality pitching without facing quality pitching. That will not happen in Syracuse.

  44. SacTown - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Lombo's got to learn to play the outfield for double switches. Say he comes up in the 6th inning to bat for the pitcher. If he makes the final out, Davey's not going to slot the new pitcher into the 1 or 2 hole. So the new pitcher is going into the 7/8 hole (whichever place the 3rd outfielder is hitting). Then one of Lombo, Desi, or Espy has to play the outfield.If he double switches out the pitcher the next time around, then Lombo goes into the infield, and either Desi or Espy comes out (with the assumption that any additional times the pitcher comes up, he's pinch hitting someone instead of double switching).To get to 300 abs, Lombo is going to have to come in mid-game a few times a week. Even if he plays 1 day each week at 2nd, ss, and 3rd, he'll still need additional at bats. Pinch hitting gets him 1 ab. Double switching should get him 2 or 3 for the game. (Yes, he will pinch hit, but DeRosa is most likely to get the high leverage PH at bats).

  45. Anonymous - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    Section 222 said… "@FeelWood — good to know they will give you the STH price at the box office."They always have.

  46. Nat's Johnson - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    I think all of Davey's exaggerations are starting to hurt. He's got to remember he's in a town where nearly all pro sports teams are purely built on off-season hype. They win the Super Bowl every June and have no credibility by October 15th.I was at a fan forum where DJ said Desmond could be another Barry Larkin. Really?He had absolute confidence in Stairs. "Matt Stairs rolls out of the bed in the morning hitting fastballs–I have no concerns about him at all."I could list a million more. We all could. The closest this franchise has had to DJ, in terms of perpetual overstatement, is Jim Bowden.That's not good.

  47. Anonymouse - Mar 22, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    Steve at 12:21, no disrespect, why do you care what others think of your opinions or analysis. You missed your calling and should be assistant GM somewhere. There are some people that think a few steps ahead and I come here for guys like you and NatsJack and a few others.As much as you want to be right all the time you cannot as this sport involves real people that don't always play to where their statistical analysis points. Easy example, Jayson Werth and my guess is you probably never would have suggested him to be a Nat last year.

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