Nats Spring Leftovers Part 3

The last game of Spring Training is equally both exciting and annoying. It is exciting because usually the last game involves majority if not all of your team’s starting line-up so you get a sneak-peek at the product that has taken almost 30 days to build. It is annoying because there is a feeling of tiredness about it. Twenty-nine long days of competition in the raging, hot Florida sun has taken its toll on both team and fans. Even the stadium itself, the concrete stairs stained with spills and used bubblegum, looks tired and looking forward to regurgitating that final home crowd from its seats. Fans just want to get this one over with and get down to business. With Opening Day days away, it is time for some serious business– but only after this ONE more.

And what a doozy it was. Nationals drop their Spring finale to the New York Mets (much to delight of Rich The Mets Fan who was in fine annoying form) 8-2. The sun was especially excruciating with little breeze and the pitching on the mound was equally brutal.

Gads, I’m not even in the mood to put more creative spin on it. Lets get to the NQ highlights and lowlights of this last game–

– There was a reason the NQ wasn’t about to name Jordan Zimmermann the next Moses after a great last go around and this game is that reason: Zimmermann was shelled within an inch of his pitching life early in the game. Three innings, seven hits, four earned runs. Extremely hittable, not as much confidence. In the second inning, where he self-destructed, he got into a bases loaded, no out jam and then gave up a three-run double to the pitcher, THE PITCHER. Damnable offense. He seems unable to string together back-to-back golden performances right now. It is going to be a long season.

– Michael Morse played a fly ball relatively lazy and let it drop in. Then on the very next at-bat he made a spectacular grab at the wall. Who does this guy think he is? A see-saw?

– It took 45 minutes to finish the top of the second inning. A lot of that is because of Zimmermann stinker, but also because Danny Espinosa who blooped a ball at second. A run scored, extended the inning.

– Third base coach Bo Porter cost two Nats runs by holding back runners at third when they could have made it easily home. Ridiculous. The guy was like a walking, talking stop sign. Perhaps he was holding them back because it was Spring Training and he didn’t want to risk injury, but saying that is letting him off the hook. Bad decisions made at third.

– Pudge Rodriguez had two opportunities to do major damage with bases loaded and either no outs or one out and he stranded all six ducks on the pond. In fact, he shot them first and then dipped the corpses in concrete so they would stay on the pond.

– The only two positives to this game: Adam LaRoche hit a solo homerun and reliever Brian Broderick seems to be back on his game.

– Drew Storen came in for some relief and sadly he didn’t offer any. 0.2 innings, seven hits and four earned runs– still not ready, but he is going to North. It is going to be an adventure every time he comes to the mound, like Indiana Jones running from a giant boulder adventure. Sadly, he might get get squashed more often than not.

There was a group of kids up in the right field bleachers during the game and I believe they broke out into a “Let’s Go Mets!” chant. At least that is what I think it was. Nats, Mets, sounds similar traveling on the wind, but if it was Mets then what a horrible chant to leave Viera to.

On to Opening Day I guess. Keep your fingers crossed if they aren’t over your eyes.

By the way, there is no Nats Spring Leftovers Part 1. That is just me being stupefying. Yeah, what else is new?

Nats Spring Leftovers Part 2

The NQ said goodbye to Florida yesterday and have returned to our damp, cold subterranean in Central Virginia– which kind of sucks. Mold is all over my files, the shackles are rusted and no one fed the crocodiles in the moat so now they are belly up in a stew of swamp and their own juices and their carcasses reek.

Tomorrow we put the icing on our Spring adventure by rolling out once again and hit Washington D.C. for Opening Day, rain or shine. It will probably be rain though, knowing Nats luck. But right now we are just going to post some Spring “leftovers” from the last Spring Training game that took place this past Tuesday. With everyone going to Natsfest tonight and Opening Day hopefully happening tomorrow, we know you all probably don’t give a tink about Spring stuff anymore, but here it is anyway.

Everything from Minors Camp to Big Team workouts had a sort of “Oh God, can we just get out of here?” sort of feel. You really felt it in Minors Camp when you first walked up to the complex. Usually the batting cages have players in them hitting off a tee, coaches yelling at them and all sorts of gear spread all over the ground with a radio blaring somewhere in the netted cavern. Not on Tuesday. No players, no gear, no grind. Just a radio blaring classic rock. After all the action and sweat that had been taking place there the past 29 days, it sort of had a sad, empty cathedral feel to it.

Saw the new Dykstra kid as the teams prepared to self-scrimmage each other so we threw in his pic. We might as well throw in the Nationals workout photos too.

These leftovers are getting cold.

The Last Day Of Spring

Last night was particularly hard. It was spent in Room 209 of the Cocoa Econo Lodge drinking Moosehead and staring out the window at the falling rain, passing cars and the occasional train on the tracks. It was a night where the Cartoon Network couldn’t really cheer me up and trashing the hotel room added little flavor. Nationals news was busting out hard by the bunches, bunches and bunches, but the blog remained silent. I just couldn’t find the words.

Ladies and gentlemen– I might just be a bit depressed.

Today is the last game of Nationals Spring Training and the last day the NQ will be in Florida. After today’s game against the New York Mets we are immediately heading back North in the covered wagon. Laying here in bed with a warm computer on my lap, my skin browned by the sun and Spongebob on the tube and just thinking about the 13 hour drive back into the cold, arctic North, land of responsibilities and the Unknown and I have to say– it kind of sucks. It will be strange acclimating back into a daily routine.

But man, what a wild ride it has been. It definitely has been a life experience. I will be leaving Florida with a clarity not only about this team I never had before, but a clarity about Spring baseball and the culture and people surrounding it. I’ve got three notebooks of notes, stories, thoughts and general weirdness that only Spring Training baseball in Florida can bring. It would take a whole blog to post it all and I know by Thursday few will care for more Spring Training posts so I will limit what I write for the next few days and figure out to do with the rest. But I want to thank everyone who made this trip possible. The blog has thrived, the times have been amazing and I hope you all enjoyed the coverage. Will we be back next March? Not sure yet. But chances are pretty good.

Today’s game is at 12:05pm and afterwards the Nats and the NQ will be hitting the road so today’s postings might be put up a bit late. We are going to try to reach South Carolina before we pull over for the night and hopefully an Internet connection.

Thanks again, Natstown and see you this Thursday at we trade palm trees for dogwoods. Opening Day is upon us.

 

Nats Leave Morse Hanging In Loss

My apologies for the late postings tonight. Some developments in my camping situation has come up and I had to make some drastic environment changes. Mainly, I have abandoned paradise at Manatee Hammock for– the Econo Lodge on Route 1. The weather report is saying there is an 80% chance that God gets majorly pissed tomorrow with lingering anger on Tuesday. That is biblical code for rain. It might seriously put a damper on the final days of Spring Training here. Have you ever tried to break down a campsite in the rain and stuff it all in your car? I did once and I can tell you it was not fun.

I am sad to be leaving Manatee Hammock and it’s wild orange trees, the Indian River Lagoon and it’s cast of characters. Without it, this Spring Training would probably have been– not what it was. It was a good campsite, probably one of the best I have ever had and it was perfect for a baseball blogger. So if you are ever in the area, have a month and have a baseball blog, I highly recommend the M-H.

So– the Econo Lodge. It has this thing called a refrigerator. It is the greatest thing ever.

Nats dropped a game to the Marlins 6-4 today. Michael Morse delivered his 9th homerun of the Spring, but aside from that and a little nifty running from Danny Espinosa, this one will be easy to forget. Overall the feeling down in Viera is everyone seems to just want to get the hell out of Viera and get to it. The job. Not the other it. The it that shall be not named it. It.

NQ highlights and lowlights–

– Ross Detwiler stated his case again today, but too bad the Judge is in someone else’s pocket. Five innings, five hits, one earned run, two Ks and no walks. His performance this Spring would probably would have gotten him on any Nats team of the past, but unfortunately this is the Nats team of now. He wasn’t his most sharp today, but he will no doubt be the go to guy when and if the Nats starting rotation gets dicey.

– I notice that Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa’s positioning seems just a bit off. The way they position themselves causes there to be this gaping hole down the center where they have to really stretch to make plays and most of the time they don’t. Need to shore it up a bit.

– Michael Morse had his ninth homer of the Spring which is awesome. What isn’t awesome is Michael Morse trying to steal. He can’t do it. He isn’t fast enough. I am not sure who gave him the go, but they need to be fined and given the hose.

– Rick Ankiel is winner of the Nats Centerfielder Sweepstakes and he goes out and parties with an 0-for-3 performance and a K.

– Danny Espinosa was 1-for-2 with two walks. He also had two stolen bases in the same inning. Danny Boy!

– Ryan Zimmerman is without a doubt the best third baseman in the NL. He is probably also in the running for the best third baseman in the League. He made two plays today. One a great grab at third and the other, a trip-up and no throw on a bunt that caused a bases loaded jam for Brian Broderick. He also walked and went 1-for-3. He is such a conundrum.

– Speaking of Brian Broderick: I take the blame for that. I mentioned to someone he had an 0.62 ERA this Spring and after that he loaded the bases, couldn’t get an out and got run out of the game after giving five runs, three earned and ballooned his ERA to 2.45. I suck.

– Pitcher Doug Slaten seems to be infected with whatever Broderick caught. Rather than throw strikes and go after batters he nibbled. He got out of his inning unscathed, but it wasn’t such a convincing performance.

– Drew Storen gave up only one hit in one inning of work, but got away with it. Looking much better.

The Spring is wrapping up and Adult Swim is on Cartoon Network.

The life of a blogger.

 

Surprisingly, Something Good Has Actually Come Out Of Philly

This t-shirt.

The NQ was strolling the concourse before the game today and this chick walks by with this actually kind of cool looking shirt. She allowed us to take a picture and didn’t freak out about it. When asked where she got it all she said was, “Philadelphia.”

Shocking.

Gotta give Philly props for this one. The good thing about this shirt is there is no bloated “P” on the front or back of the shirt and the cap is a standard red so it can be used as Nats red. It is also good Jayson has retained his number 28. This shirt would work in Washington.

Ultimately, the best parts about this particular t-shirt is there are a set of boobs behind it.

Put your face as close to your monitor as you can and you can almost see them.

Oh Look, There Is Oliver Perez at Nats Minors Camp

Yep, after two days of searching we found him. He apparently was in Minors Camp yesterday working with Spin Williams, but that was by word-of-mouth. We believe it, but words can do only so much. Photos speak a million words and cause nightmares so we figure there is a good portion of Natstown not going to be able to sleep tonight after seeing the picture above.

Perez was hard to pin down because his number has changed from his usual #46 to #36 and he has not been working out with the Syracuse squad. Instead he has been throwing side sessions with Spin Williams and today he had quite the audience around him. He had two catchers watching him throw, Williams with a video camera, another unidentified gentleman who seemed to know his stuff and a doctor with a handlebar mustache, small ponytail and dressed like a South American drug lord (in all white). His first name was Jack. Perez whipped a towel in the air a few times and then threw the ball. Williams wasn’t interested in how hard he was throwing, but where he was throwing. Worked a lot on hip movements.

Also in camp was newly acquired Lee Hyde. He seemed to be acclimating himself real well. He sports the #34 for Syracuse– Bryce Harper’s number.

Speaking of the next phenom, he was working on drills today that involved him getting put in a pickle on the third base line. He looked like he wasn’t going all out, but he was putting good weight on both ankles which is a good sign. No, scratch that: a great sign. This kid is ready.

(Say hi to Lee Hyde)

The Most Shocking Thing About The Nyjer Thing Is Everyone Seems Shocked

At Space Coast Stadium everyone knows it as “The Pit.”

It is a long, concrete box and walkway to the right of the home dugout that is supposed to be used by media and photographers, but never really is. Before and after games you will find an assortment of fans, autograph seekers and memorabilia leeches waiting in the scorching sun for our heroes, the Nats, to pass by and perhaps give them a John Hancock on a ball, card or ticket stub.

Today was no different. Plenty of leeches were sticking to the hot slab and had their wares all decked out from binders of cards to helmets to photos. What was different today was a photo was taped on the inside of the wall, quite close to the dugout of Nyjer Morgan diving into base and someone with a blue sharpie– well, see for yourself. Taped right to the wall and getting plenty of laughs and giggles.

Cruel, yes, but sort of expected. Nyjer Morgan had fallen from DC grace long ago and today was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for infielder Cutter Dykstra (yes, Lenny’s kid) and CASH. The fact in itself the Nationals even got that is shocking and should be applauded. But what was more shocking was the reaction of the main press and plenty others in the Natosphere: they seemed absolutely shocked and made this story front and center.

Ummm…did we really not see this coming guys? I mean, when a guy comes out in the media and says he doesn’t expect to be with the team on Opening Day that usually means he probably…won’t…be…there– on Opening Day. Because teams don’t usually like their players saying such things. Right, Rizzo?

“Players say things out of frustration all the time,” Rizzo said. “I had a great meeting with Nyjer. He is comfortable where we are at. He feels good about himself. That did not play into it at all.”

Sure, Rizzo. We believe you…NOT! You can tell when Mike Rizzo is lying when his bald head begins to shine brighter. It is a tell tale sign. But seriously, was this really shocking to anyone? Did it really deserve the ripple it caused in the pond?

Bigger rocks have been thrown in– but perhaps none have sunk that deep before.

Lets Appreciate Nyjer Morgan For A Moment

This could be the very last time the NQ posts a Nyjer Morgan pic in the banner. Bookmark this post. It might be worth something someday. But you know, he deserves it at least for today. He did have a role to play in the Nationals 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last night.

Man, it has got to be tough to be Nyjer Morgan right now. I can’t think of a better definition of “dead man walking.” I mean, he knows he is pretty much done in Washington. He isn’t going to be sent down, he isn’t going to be a starter on the Opening Day roster, he could be a fourth outfielder, but something tells me that job is going to fall to Roger Bernadina and Nyjer’s personality would not take to that role too well. So the reality of him just being traded or flat out released is very real. Cripes, by Wednesday he might not even have a job and that has had to wear on the guy for the past two days as the Nationals touted him out on the field as lead off hitter the past two days.

He suits up in a jersey of a team and a fan base that have sort of soured on him and tries to belt it out. If Morgan is not a National by Opening Day it will complete an epic fall from grace. The Nats had such high hopes for him. He was (at the time) Mike Rizzo’s crowning achievement, a testament to Rizzo’s brilliant, strategic baseball mind. Now he is mud and Rizzo has lost a ruby out of his crown.

But you have to tip your hat to Nyjer. Say what you will about his attitude and his abilities, but it takes some balls to go out there day after day knowing your career is headed to the gallows and the hangman’s noose and to play for a crowd that has turned against you. It is that ballsiness that will always make this blog a Nyjer Morgan fan.

Your NQ highlights and lowlights–

– Pitcher Tom Gorzelanny pitched yet another good game last night. Six innings pitched, four hits, gave up a 2-run shot, walked one, and struck out five. Not even the mighty Albert Pujols could get a good bead on him. I am still not certain if I completely trust his stuff, at times he struggled to get that third out, but I am growing more comfortable knowing he is in the back end of the rotation. He almost reminds me of another Livo, but a little more precise at times and a little less junk. Gorzo also laid down two nice bunts which is incredible to think about considering he is a Nationals pitcher.

– Speaking of Albert Pujols, he was there (as well as roider Mark McGuire) and he was something to watch even when he wasn’t on the field playing. He’d be walking down the foul line to the dugout during workouts and legions of Cardinals fans would be at the wall, lined up and clapping and calling his name. They even stood as he walked by as if he were a general. Incredible fan respect and loyalty. I know it is too much to ask, but Nationals, Lerners: you need to take a shot at getting this guy next off season. A serious crack. A guy like that in DC would be an instant legend– and a $$$ maker. I added that last part in for you, Ted. I know you like it.

– Nyjer Morgan opened up the scoring in the bottom of the third with an RBI single. He really wanted that one after being robbed at his first at-bat by a good play in the outfield. More like he NEEDED that.

– Ryan Zimmerman had his first game back from groin injury and went 0-for-3. He’ll need time to warm up again, but he was making some absolutely crappy swings at complete junk. At one at-bat he extended so far I almost thought he’d fall over.

– “Rhino” Ramos crushed a double in the sixth which lead to him being scored on a Roger Bernadina RBI single.

– Boomer Whiting came into the game, his first appearance with the big team this Spring and he laid down an incredibly epic, #WINNING– bunt. It moved two runners over and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. It was perhaps the most baffling, yet cool thing to do. I’m sure Boomer felt like a King after that. Boomer goes the dynamite!

– Matt Stairs was intentionally walked after Boomer’s bodacious bunt. The crowd rained the boos down on the Cardinals as Cardinal fans actually seemed ashamed. LaRussa, this is Spring Training. Let your boys try to not wuss out. Give the crowd what it wants: more Matt Stairs. I can’t believe I just wrote that…

– Jerry Hairston Jr. is knocking the cover off the ball– just right at fielders or being robbed by some great plays.

– Will the real Drew Storen just strike them out? He did again last night. He collected 2ks in a three-up, three down ninth inning save. Good to have you back, Drew.

The Nats are taking on the Astros in Kissimmee today. The Fish come to Viera tomorrow. Hope everyone has a good Saturday. We’ll be back on the job Sunday morning.

Canadian French Cooking At Nats Minors Camp

Yesterday the NQ rolled into Minors Camp a little later in the day, at the hottest point of the day, and boy that Viera sun was relentless. There is little to no shade even over on the Minors side except from a few palm trees and the watch tower in the middle of the cloverleaf of fields. It was absolutely brutal and for those who have made the the pilgrimage to Viera, you know exactly what I am talking about.

However, that didn’t stop the Nats Minor Leagues from grinding. A bus had just arrived from Lake Buena Vista and coming off it was the Atlanta Braves Double-A and Triple-A clubs or a mixture of them. They were getting to play Harrisburg and Syracuse in a Minors game. Already in progress at the time and just finishing up was a game where the Nationals low Single-A teams were taking on a Canadian Baseball Academy team. On the front of their blue jerseys it read “Academie Baseball Canada.” Here is their website. I hope you can read French. It was strange hearing French-Canadian being shouted and cheered out across the fields in sun soaked east Florida, but it only added to the uniqueness and awesomeness that is the Spring Training experience.

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was in plain clothes and visited camp briefly and Bryce Harper was doing minor workouts and walking around a bunch. He was nursing that ankle only slightly, but he looked real good, real good. I can’t see how he can miss Hagerstown Opening Day and he won’t.

I’m sure Hagerstown is breathing a sigh of relief on that one. They would have had no idea what to do with 10,000 “Harperstown” shirts if he didn’t show up.