Feb 22, 2014, 9:40 AM EST
VIERA, Fla. — It’s a gray, muggy, lazy morning here, with the threat of rain looming at any moment. After more than a week of gorgeous weather to open camp, things have taken a turn for the worse.
Assuming Mother Nature cooperates, the Nationals will be taking the practice fields outside Space Coast Stadium in a few minutes to begin their third full-squad workout of the spring. This one is notable for one new addition to the daily regimen: live BP.
Yes, for the first time this year we get to see actual pitchers standing on actual mounds (behind “L screens”) throwing actual pitches (revealed in advance) to actual hitters (in batting cages). Hey, it still beats bullpen sessions and bunt drills.
Joking aside, live BP remains one of my favorite drills of spring training, because it gives you a chance to see how certain pitchers look, especially those with question marks. For example, Ross Detwiler, who is scheduled to throw today. We haven’t seen Detwiler face a batter since July, and while he has certainly looked healthy and sharp in his bullpen sessions so far, we should get even more confirmation today of his overall physical state.
The Nationals didn’t have their entire list of pitchers up this morning, so I don’t know who else will be throwing. I’ll continue to hold out hope for the dream Stephen Strasburg-Bryce Harper showdown that we’ve been denied the last three springs.
In other news this morning…
— Tyler Clippard is scheduled to resume full workouts today and then throw off a mound tomorrow. Clippard was held back the last few days after tweaking his back, but he appears to be fine.
— Matt Williams joined fellow managers Fredi Gonzalez, Bo Porter and Brad Ausmus yesterday in Kissimmee for a meeting with MLB officials (including Joe Torre) on the new replay challenge and home-plate collision rules. I’ll be interested to hear what Williams has to say about it when we meet with him this afternoon, but he mentioned yesterday that his coaches have been instructing catchers to proceed as though there won’t be any rule changes for now. If and when the changes are announced, they’ll adjust the instructions. “We don’t know what changes will be made, if any,” he said. “So we’ll wait for that and make sure we cross it when we get there. Right now we’re just making sure their fundamentals are sound. We’ll deal with it when we know.”
— Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen enjoyed a very cool experience Thursday night. The relievers got passes to watch the launch of a Delta IV rocket from the grandstand at nearby Cape Canaveral. I saw the same launch from my hotel window, about 30 miles away — here’s some terrible video I shot of it — but Blevins and Stammen said they had a fantastic, unobstructed view of it from close range. “I’m not gonna lie,” Blevins said. “When I saw that thing disappearing up into the sky, I felt really insignificant for the first time in awhile.” I know the feeling.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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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