Skip to content

The challenge of keeping the bench fresh

Mar 17, 2013, 9:08 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images
Tyler Moore and others could have a tough time getting at-bats this year.

LAKELAND, Fla. — There’s a good side and a bad side to fielding a talent-laden lineup with regulars who all deserve to play every day. The good side: That deep lineup is capable of putting up big numbers on a daily basis. The bad side: It leaves precious few opportunities for reserves to get enough at-bats to stay fresh.

For a veteran like Chad Tracy, who has modeled himself into one of the game’s best pinch-hitting specialists, it’s not that big of a deal. But for young bench players like Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi, it can be more complicated.

So, is it going to be tough to keep all those guys fresh when there aren’t obvious opportunities to work them into the lineup?

“Yes. If everybody’s doing the things I know they’re capable of doing, yes,” manager Davey Johnson admitted. “But it’s what they pay me to do: Try to keep them all sharp.”
Read more

  1. Laddie Blah Blah - Mar 17, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    The first reported suspension related to the Biogeneis affair:http://tracking.si.com/2013/03/15/tigers-minor-leaguer-linked-to-biogenesis-suspended-100-games/?sct=uk_t2_a12Rizzo and Davey have problems that other GMs and field mgrs wish they had. Owings is a wild card, and had the best spring (at least until TyMo's outburst today) of any bench guy in camp.The Nats have taken long looks at Brown and Marrero. They must be planning on just when and where they will introduce Rendon. The guys who will not make this team are better, in some cases much better, than starters from just 3-4 years ago. The rotation seems set, and almost everyone seems healthy.Its an embarassment of baseball riches. Rizzo will make decisions that benefit the team, both short and long-term, without regard to any other consideration. That's his history, his orientation, and what he is paid to do. Few, if any, do it better. Maybe Davey can pursuade him on one or two moves, but that will be it.The team in DC, the ones in Syracuse, Harrisburg, etc., will all be Rizzo's teams and Rizzo's guys. He's not perfect, but he's as good as there is. And no one should be a bit surprised if he springs a few surprises, himself, before opening day. Lord knows he has numerous options to choose from, and he's not afraid to go against conventional wisdom.

  2. Drew - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Laddie:Kobernus and Rosenbaum are testaments to that. The Nats calculated that they did not have room to protect them and both might well be major leaguers in a couple of weeks.If they don't stick with their teams the Nats can buy back two players who will have gained a great deal of experience.A fascinating test for the Rizzo regime is whether a second player from the 2012 draft — aside from Giolito — emerges as a prospect.Will Mooneyham be money?Will Renda rake?Will Kieboom kaboom?Time will tell.

  3. Gonat - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    The Nats also have a surplus of catchers in Ramos, Suzuki, Snyder, Solano, Leon, and Maldanado.This may be a good time for the Nats to look at trading Snyder who has an opt-out.

  4. sjm308 - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    I honestly wonder how many times Solano has played left field as a professional?

  5. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    mlbrumors asserts that several teams are looking at backup catchers, among them Snyder. Unfortunately, there are lot of backup catchers available so it's probably a buyer's market.

  6. EmDash - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    If they get much for Snyder, with his opt-out date only a week away, Rizzo may actually be a wizard.

  7. snopes1 - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    I went to my first spring training game today in Lakeland. Everybody around me kept saying how great it was to see "all these guys nobody's ever heard of" and I thought to myself, "No chance, I've at least heard of everyone on the Nats 40-man roster and all the non-roster invitees, which ought to be everyone left in camp this late in spring training." Then in the 8th, the Nats put in somebody named "Johnson" to play third base. Who is Johnson? I have no idea

  8. baseballswami - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    Sjm- it has been reported that Solano has never, ever played any outfield position in his entire life. Borrowed Moore's glove. Ball stalked him.

  9. Gonat - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    baseballswami said… Sjm- it has been reported that Solano has never, ever played any outfield position in his entire life. Borrowed Moore's glove. Ball stalked him. March 17, 2013 8:20 PM _________________________________Isn't that the truth. I was listening to the Detroit radio broadcast and they were saying Solano was playing very deep and that double still made it over his head.Leave to Davey, none of us saw that coming!

  10. baseballswami - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    But when Davey asks if you can do something – you say yes!

  11. baseballswami - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    Anyone watching the WBC? Just can't stand Jim Kaat. He never misses an opportunity to criticize the Nats about, well, you know. He is very pompous and preachy. Has already basically called mlb players wusses for not pitching 140 pitches a game or taking infield practice every day. The actually game should be good – maybe on mute.

  12. rmoore446 - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Flew in today to Melbourne, my first trip to a Nats Spring. Had dinner with my college roommate who lives in Melbourne. He guided us to Shells of Melbourne right next to Smoky Bones and we had a great meal. We drove past Pineapple Avenue where the legendary Bonefish Willy's is located and I may give that a try tomorrow.I'll be at the Tigers game tomorrow at Space Coast Stadium in Section 209, Row 11 and Seat 10 if anyone is there and wants to say hello. Later this week I will be at the Nats/Braves game at the Bravos Disney facility.Ah, this is the life! Especially considering they've upped the snow forecast back home.

  13. NatsLady - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:34 AM

    I'm watching the game, but missed the intro/pre-game commentary, so I'm not aggravated–yet.

  14. baseballswami - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:41 AM

    If you are not now, you will be soon. I am telling you – he never misses an opportunity to slip Stras into any conversation. It will happen.

  15. Kire Schneider - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    I would love to subscribe to this blog through email if thats possible.

  16. Doc - Mar 18, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    I know what you're saying about Kaat, Swam.In the heat of the discussion last year about shutting down SS, he bragged that he didn't have surgery on his UCL tear, he just reated it.Sounds a bit like a fantasy. Strain, maybe. Tear, I kinda wonder. Calling Dr. Yokum, Dr. Andrews.I don't recall that Kaat was ever a power pitcher, and certainly no Stephen Strasburgh.Then there is R.A. Dickey who doesn't have connective tissue in his arm and we know how much of a power pitcher that he is!!At any rate Kaat needs to find something else to gab about, when things are slow on the WBC field.You never hear Ron Darling, with the Mets broadcast crew, go on like that, nor any other broadcast pitchers that I can think of.

  17. Drew - Mar 18, 2013 at 4:04 AM

    RMoore:My brother and I ate dinner at Shells in Melbourne twice last week. Good call — it has great fresh fish served in a casual atmosphere.Enjoy.

  18. Oldguy - Mar 18, 2013 at 4:50 AM

    So Puerto Rico takes down the two-time champs. Wow! Looks like it might be an all-Carib final.

  19. Rabbit34 - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    The deep lineup will put up big numbers if Werth isn't playing. After watching games from Florida, I won't complain about Hurricane winds again.

Archives

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.

Follow us on Twitter