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Roenicke excited to team with brother-in-law Desmond

Feb 16, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

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VIERA, Fla. — Josh Roenicke first met Ian Desmond in 2008, after the former had begun seriously dating the latter’s sister, Nikki. Roenicke was a minor-league reliever with the Reds. Desmond was still toiling in the Nationals’ farm system.

Little could either know they’d not only find themselves in the majors six years later, but in the same clubhouse wearing the same uniform.

“It’s cool,” Roenicke said. “Our wives are probably more excited than we are.”

Signed by the Nationals to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league camp, Roenicke reported to Viera yesterday and took the field with his new teammates. One of those, of course, is Desmond, who just so happens to sit across the table from him at Thanksgiving dinner.

Roenicke met Nikki Desmond while he was coming up with the Reds, who used to train in Sarasota, Fla. That’s where the Desmonds grew up and still live.

Now the two families live a mile from each other, their toddlers getting together for regular playdates.

“We see them all the time,” Roenicke said.

They could get a chance to see each other a whole lot more this summer if Roenicke makes the Nationals’ bullpen. His odds of heading north with the club out of spring training are slim, with a host of capable arms battling for the one or perhaps two jobs up for grabs. But the Nats wouldn’t hesitate to summon Roenicke if he pitches well at  Class AAA Syracuse along the way.

To do that, the right-hander will need to find what worked for him in 2012 with the Rockies, when he posted a 3.25 ERA in 63 games. Claimed off waivers by the Twins last winter, he struggled with command (issuing 36 walks in 62 innings) and wound up with an inflated 4.35 ERA.

The difference? Roenicke believes he needs to rely more on his sinker, the pitch that made him effective in Colorado.

“I got a lot of contact and a lot of double plays, which negated those walks,” he said. “Last year, I kind of got away from my sinker. I’d like to get it back.”

First up, Roenicke would like to get a crack at facing his brother-in-law in spring training live batting practice. The two have met three times, all in 2012, and Desmond clearly got the better of him, going 2-for-3 with a homer and a triple.

Roenicke has spent the last two years hearing all about it over family dinners.

“It’s competitive,” he said. “We talk a lot of trash, mess around. He has my number right now. So, like he said: ‘Can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I guess.’ But we’re pretty close. Brotherly love and friendly. No harm or anything serious.”

  1. Candide - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    So are they rooming together in Florida?

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    So, the Braves and Craig Kimbrel have reached a multi-year extension. I was kinda hoping for an ugly arbitration hearing that left all sorts of ill feelings. Oh well.

  3. sjm308 - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    I love signing these types to give them a shot because there is absolutely no risk, but I sure hope the young arms are still given every chance to move up. We could have several guys in the Syracuse pen (Ayala, Roenicke etc) that can give all sorts of guidance but I hope that is mixed with our prospects. Mark – what are the chances that these guys accept a minor league role if they don’t make the 25 man roster?

    It always interests me in how many players continue to plug away at this difficult game. I guess there are worse professions as your reach your 30s but those bus rides have to get tiresome. Bull Durham was a great movie but for some of these guys, its real life. I just hope they did a decent job of thinking ahead as their careers start to end. With the quality arms we have on this team, unless the injuries are just obscene, these guys seem to have very little chance. Again, you can never have too much pitching so I do understand the rationale.

    • Jb - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      Most of those guys (and position players like Jamey Carroll too) probably have opt out clauses if they’re not in the bigs on April 1, May 1, etc. They are basically auditioning for all 30 teams while spending ST with the Nats.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Isn’t the opt-out part of the current CBA?

      • veejh - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        He has a June 15th opt out clause.

  4. JayB - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    No need to dig with players just having Mark provide the context with players comments gives you the perspective on why Williams is the number one story as Mark ranked them. Example would be strass comment with example from Davey’s work on bunt plays and then example of blown plays that cost wins last year. That is the job right? All the info is there for Mark

  5. unkyd59 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    (Thank god I had this here “ignore” button installed…..contented sigh…)

    • sjm308 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      how do I get one of those??

      • unkyd59 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        I think, if you check in the manuel, you’ll find it was installed at the factory. You just have to “enable” it…. ;-)

  6. Section 222 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Hope they enjoy ST together because it seems like he’s about No. 11 on the depth chart for a seven man bullpen.

    Soriano
    Clip
    Storen
    Stammen
    Blevins
    Ohlendorf
    Roark/Det
    Cedeno
    Garcia
    Ayala
    Roenike

    • Doc - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      Maybe 12th, if you put our guy Solis on the list.

      • Section 222 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        And scnats reminded us of Mattheus. So that makes him 13th. Long odds.

    • scnatsfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      Add mattheus to the mix too

      • Section 222 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        How quickly we’ve forgotten about Mattheus.

  7. David Proctor - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Grant Paulsen ‏@granthpaulsen 2h
    I could see #Nats RHP AJ Cole serving as an over-powering reliever during a SEP playoff push. Pops 97 as a starter. FB would sit 95-97.

    That’s intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing him in some Spring Training games this spring.

  8. David Proctor - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    If, and this is a big IF, everyone is healthy, I see the bullpen shaking out like this:

    Soriano
    Clippard
    Storen
    Stammen
    Blevins
    Cedeno
    Garcia

    I think, if he’s healthy, you can’t waste Garcia in AAA. He’s too good and the risk of re-injury is too high. Maybe Ohlendorf or Roark beats out Cedeno, but I think they really want 2 lefties.

    Then after that:

    Ohlendorf/Roark
    Mattheus
    Ayala
    Solis
    Roenicke

    • David Proctor - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      And this is assuming they don’t sign an Oliver Perez or Ryan Madson type, though apparently Madson wants a major league deal which we can’t and won’t offer.

      • natswinanother - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        There are a lot of names and options already on the team and it makes sense to get Oliver Perez or Michael Gonzalez to boost the left side. Makes you wonder if some type of big deal is in the works or in the plans for down the road?

      • therealjohnc - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        Well, I’m skeptical that Miguel Gonzalez or Oliver Perez would really be an upgrade over what they have. I’m OK with signing either/both to a minor league deal and let them compete for a spot, but cutting someone from the 40 man roster to bring either on board with a major league deal would be a mistake.

    • sjm308 - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      David, I really like your pen and I agree on Garcia. People tend to forget just how solid he was in 2012. Just look at the talent that is headed to Syracuse! If Roark is sent down, he will be a starter there but he would be the first guy I bring up. Hard to believe that Ayala &/or Roenicke would accept the demotion but if they do it is amazing depth.

      Don’t forget thought that according to the world of JayB, both Clippard and Storen are going to get dealt in a fit of anger.

      • therealjohnc - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        If that’s your pen, are you considering Stammen to be the long man/swing starter? He’s done that role before, but to some that would be a demotion. It does assume that Detwiler holds onto the #5 starter spot, which is likely but not assured. If someone beats Det out for the #5 role, then Cedeno is off the island.

        I like this ‘pen, by the way. I think Stammen’s upside is better than Ohlendorf, and don’t have a problem with a AAA rotation of Roark, Jordan, Ohlendorf, Rosenbaum and Treinan (or possibly Chris Young). And a bullpen that includes Aaron Barrett, Erik Davis, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Robertson, etc. That’s serious AAA depth.

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Anyone below Blevins on 222’s list is a candidate for injury or blow-up. Roenicke is not without hope.

  10. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    In the not-very-distant past, the Nats tended to have several players on their 25-man roster who would have been in AAA or AA with most other ball clubs. This year, it appears we’ll have a number of players in AAA or AA who would be in the majors with a lot of other clubs. I like this new arrangement much better.

    • JayB - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      +1

    • therealjohnc - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      +1 also. The pitching depth in this organization runs pretty deep. Barring injury, virtually all of the starters down through A ball can be considered prospects with big league potential. Most won’t make it to a big league starting spot, some won’t even make it at all. But some will make it, others will become relievers, and some will be dealt for other needs the same way the Nats have used arms to get Wilson Ramos, Denard Span and now Lobaton.

      • unkyd59 - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Yep.
        +1
        “Coin of the Realm”

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