Feb 27, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — We’ve officially reached the inevitable point in spring training when everyone just desperately wants the games to start already.
There’s still one more day before that happens, but the Nationals will begin the transition this morning when they conduct a lighter-than-usual workout inside Space Coast Stadium, treating it as more of a typical pregame ritual, hitting fungoes and taking batting practice in the stadium. (Fans will be allowed in the stadium for free, by the way, with the workout set to begin at 10 a.m.)
Yesterday, then, represented the final full workout of the spring over on the practice fields down the street. That workout included the final round of live BP, and it featured some excellent pitcher-vs.-batter matchups.
Stephen Strasburg, who earlier in the week faced a trio of inexperienced prospects, this time went up against an “A” team of lineup regulars, including Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche. The young ace did as he does with just about anybody who digs in to face him and was in control throughout the session, though LaRoche did notch a solid single to right.
As he walked off the field, I congratulated LaRoche on recording his first career hit off Strasburg. Adam looked at me quizzically and responded: “What do you mean first? I took him deep!” Silly me, how quickly I forget. LaRoche, then a member of the Diamondbacks, indeed homered off Strasburg on Aug. 15, 2010. Please accept my apologies, Adam.
That same group of hitters, plus Wilson Ramos, stayed on Field 3 to face the next pitcher up, Drew Storen. The reliever likewise enjoyed a strong session, though Ramos did get to him for a deep drive to right that appeared to bounce over the wall for a ground-rule double.
Storen, who was facing live hitters for the first time this spring, was excited to go up against quality hitters like that.
“Oh, of course,” he said. “You want to practice against the best, you know? So get those guys, they’re going to make you pay for a mistake. You get a good gauge of where everything’s at.”
One more day, and we’ll all get a much better gauge of where hitters and pitchers stand, now that they’re on the verge of facing other teams in actual game situations at last.
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