Mar 21, 2014, 4:52 PM EST
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.”
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