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Observations from Nats’ 2-0 loss to Cardinals

Mar 21, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT

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JUPITER, Fla. — Forgive Gio Gonzalez if he’s just a tad bit sick of the Cardinals and Roger Dean Stadium right now.

The Nationals left-hander today faced St. Louis in Jupiter for the fourth time in three seasons. He also faced the Marlins in this ballpark once during that span. And he’s scheduled to face the Cardinals again here on Wednesday!

“Obviously, there’s nothing much I can hide from them anymore,” Gonzalez said after today’s 2-0 loss. “They’ve seen plenty of me, and I’ve seen plenty of them. … We joke around, but it’s one of those things, what can you really work on then?”

Gonzalez was not his sharpest during this latest outing. He needed a whopping 82 pitches to complete 4 2/3 innings, walked three and didn’t strike a batter out.

We’ve certainly seen in the past how Gonzalez can on occasion rack up high pitch counts early, and this was just another example of how important it is for him to keep that more manageable.

“Well, it’s key for anybody, but especially him,” manager Matt Williams said. “Speaking with [pitching coach Steve McCatty] and talking with [bench coach Randy Knorr] a lot … I haven’t seen him a lot, so they’ve been telling me that he can be a high pitch count in the fourth and then all of a sudden, it’s the seventh and he’s still in the game. He’s got the ability to lock it in, too. I thought he was good. He’ll be fine.”

Gonzalez has one more opportunity to work into at least the sixth inning before he takes the mound for real against the Mets at Citi Field. And, of course, that opportunity will come right back here in Jupiter.

Some more observations from today’s game…

— Unlike Gonzalez, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was incredibly efficient. The right-hander was supposed to throw 90 pitches today, but he made it through seven innings on only 74 pitches. So manager Mike Matheny sent him back out for the eighth, which he completed with his pitch count still at 81. As he walked back to the dugout, Wainwright told Matheny he wanted to come back out and go for an incredibly rare Grapefruit League complete game, but Matheny wouldn’t let him. Closer Trevor Rosenthal pitched the ninth to earn the save.

— The Nationals didn’t exactly send their “A” team to Jupiter for this one. Actually, they barely sent their “B” squad. The lineup featured nobody who is likely to be starting on Opening Day, and only two guys guaranteed of making the 25-man roster: Jose Lobaton and Scott Hairston. (Though Danny Espinosa, who started at shortstop certainly appears likely to make the club.)

— Speaking of Hairston, it’s been a rough spring for the veteran outfielder. He went 1-for-3 today with an infield single, but he struck out twice and is now hitting .194 (11-for-41) with 11 strikeouts and only one walk. “I know the more and more I work, the better off I’ll do,” he said. “I’m not too worried. It’s one of those things where I’ve had really good spring trainings in the past, and the season doesn’t dictate what your spring training was like. Sometimes, I’ve had really bad spring trainings and had really good years. That said, I don’t really put too much emphasis on looking too far forward. I just try to concentrate on the now. Seeing the ball good. I’m not really satisfied with my swing currently, but I think we’ll get there.”

— As detailed previously, there are still at least five guys in the mix for the final spot in the Opening Day bullpen, so these final appearances take on some extra significance. To that end, Blake Treinin got another opportunity to make his case today, retiring both hitters he faced in the bottom of the eighth, including All-Star Yadier Molina. After a rocky debut at the beginning of the month, Treinin really has impressed, giving up just one run over his last 8 2/3 innings. Acquired from the Athletics as part of last winter’s, three-team Michael Morse trade, Treinin admits even he didn’t think he’d still be in big-league camp at this point. “I think it’s a pleasant surprise,” the right-hander said. “My intentions and expectations coming into spring training were just to leave an impression. And the fact I’m still around is an absolute blessing. I can’t thank them more for giving me the opportunity they’ve given me so far. I’m just trying to make the most of it, go day-by-day. Whatever their decision is at the end of spring training, it’s their decision. But I feel like I’ve done my absolute best to leave an impression with the big club.”

  1. natinalsgo - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    “Fourth times in three seasons” doesn’t sound like a lot. Am I missing something Mark?

  2. Steady Eddie - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    What Mark is clearly missing is the game Gio pitched against the Cardinals in Jupiter early in spring training two years ago. He shut them out for four innings and left with I believe a 1-0 or 2-0 lead.

    But it was rained out after 4 so it doesn’t appear in the records.

    (I’m not a maven of ridiculously obscure information, I just was at that game that day.)

    So all Gio’s memories of Jupiter are not bad. ;-)

    • natinalsgo - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:37 PM

      “The Nationals left-hander today faced St. Louis in Jupiter for the fourth time in three seasons.”

      So you are saying fifth time making the trek. Averaging more than 1 time a Spring. Somebody has to do it and Gio knows all the good restaurants there.

    • chiefwj - Mar 21, 2014 at 9:44 PM

      I was at that game in 2012 also, and while taking cover under the stands I met Gio’s parents, a bunch of cousins, and his HS baseball teammates. Nice folks one and all, and enthusiastic. Anyway, Jupiter is the closest spring training venue to Hialeah, and I’m sure lots of folks make the trip up 95 to watch Gio. So, its likely that Gio likes going to Jupiter and, at the least, probably has less of a problem with the bus ride than any other pitcher on the staff (except Christian Garcia, who probably didn’t have much to say about when he would pitch and where).

  3. Sonny G 10 - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Treinin make the final 25 and go north with the team.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      Best 24 go North + the $2 million man!

  4. iconicwoodencap - Mar 21, 2014 at 5:48 PM

    Didn’t the Red Sox and Marlins have a mini dust-up over the Sox not sending the MLB requisite 4 regulars? Is sending only Gio, who will be a starter, and 3 bench players to the game seems a bit suspect. Putting that aside, it was nice to see our pitching faring well against some Cards regulars. Hopefully Wainwright will get roughed up a bit more by the A-Team.

    Go Nats!

    • Jb - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      That was because the Marlins jacked up their ticket prices for that game to cash in on the Red Sox popularity.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:07 PM

      The MLB rule is this:

      “A minimum of four players who are regulars on the previous year’s major league team or who were platooned on the previous year’s major league team on a regular basis, or who have a reasonable chance to be regulars on the major league club’s squad during the upcoming season. Each of those regulars, excluding pitchers, must play a minimum of three complete innings.”

      So the standard is a more ambiguous “regular,” not “starter” and presumably would include relief pitchers too.

      And of course Matty W says he hasn’t made up his mind about 2B, so I guess Danny qualifies as a player with a “reasonable chance to be a regular.”

      Maybe that’s why he wasn’t ready to make the decision before today’s game.

      • zmunchkin - Mar 21, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        Agreed. And regular does not mean starter. Espinosa, Moore, Lobaton and Carroll all, at least marginally, qualify as regulars.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:09 PM

        Gio is a regular.

      • Section 222 - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:38 AM

        The rule specifically mentions players who were “platooned” as an alternative to a “regular,” so I read this rule as requiring, with respect to position players, starters or platoon players or guys who have a reasonable chance to be starters or platoon players. Hairston is not a platoon player, he’s a pinch hitter or a sub. Same with Carroll, Kobernus and Moore, if they make the team. Espi on the other hand, still has a shot at starting, if you believe Williams. A backup catcher like Lobaton has to qualify, since he’ll start a healthy percentage of games — certainly more than Hairston or Moore. He’s essentially a platoon player for purposes of this rule.

        Pitchers count, otherwise why would they craft an exception to how long the “regulars” have to play? I’d interpret the rule as counting all pitchers who were on the 25 man last year, or who have a chance to make it this year. So Gio obviously counts. And all the relievers we played qualify: Stammen, Clip, Treinen and Cedeno were either regular players last year, or have a shot at making the 25 man this year. So I count seven “regulars” for purposes of the rule.

        At the end of ST, it’s pretty easy to pass muster since you’re likely to be using almost all pitchers who have a shot at going north.

  5. David Proctor - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    Sean Burnett (arm stiffness) shut down for a couple days. He’ll likely open season on DL.

    Rizzo made the right call letting him go.

    • veejh - Mar 21, 2014 at 7:59 PM

      hmmmmm….I was upset last season when we were short on lefties and he signed for a price that after the season seemed like a bargain.

      • David Proctor - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        He pitched only 9 innings last year and now his elbow is sore again.

      • veejh - Mar 21, 2014 at 8:12 PM

        I knew he had issues last season, but I didn’t realize he only pitched 9 innings. I guess he peaked in 2012.

      • realdealnats - Mar 21, 2014 at 9:22 PM

        In a world where we have to be vigilant about any and everything, it is nice to be able to relax and fantasize here, and know that as in the case of Burnett, the bottom line is Rizzo is way ahead of the game and of his competition.

  6. veejh - Mar 21, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    From mlbtraderumors…..

    One possible route to opening a slot on the roster (for Treinen) would be to deal the versatile Jeff Kobernus, writes Kilgore. The speedy 25-year-old would draw trade interest, a scout says. Kobernus played in center today, which Kilgore says could have been intended to showcase him for other clubs.
    ————————-
    Meanwhile, Kobernus booted a pretty routine fly ball to center in the 1st inning…..

    He’s got to be beating himself in the head over this. Getting to the bigs can be a razor thin margin for some of these guys.

    • veejh - Mar 21, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      and yes, I know he’s already played in the bigs.

  7. Section 222 - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Interesting quandry if they need to find a spot for Treinen on the 40-man. Who is most likely to clear waivers or least likely to be missed if we lose him? Eury Perez? The Onion?

  8. trochlis318 - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    unfortunatly i think the lineup that is being played today will be the lineup for the majority of the games, with desi in the 2 hole and bryce hitting fifth

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