With all the buzz continuing towards swarm proportions regarding baseball phenom Stephen Strasburg and when he will pitch in the majors, I thought it would be great to check in with the Potomac Nationals, The Nats High Class A affiliate in my beautiful hometown of Woodbridge, Virginia.
Potomac has been mentioned as a likely starting point for Stephen as he makes his way to Nats Park in the (hopefully) near future.
Jonathan Griffith, the Vice President and General Manager of the Potomac Nationals, spoke to me about the possibility of Strasburg debuting in Woodbridge and the plans the team has in store for local fans.
One possible scenario has Strasburg pitching on opening night for the P-Nats on April 8th against the Salem Red Sox. The P-Nats open the season with a four game set against the Red Sox affiliate Thursday through Sunday. The first game is at 7:05 p.m. with gates opening at 6 p.m.
Jonathan told me they are offering a special "Top Pick-You Pick" 5-game flex plan which includes opening night and 4 other games of your choice throughout the season. Packages range from $40.00 to $70.00.
Griffith says Potomac is advantageous for the Nats because it is the furthest south of any of the Nats' affiliates in the higher minors and immediately following the series against the Red Sox, the team travels even further south to face Winston-Salem.
Griffith says the Nats have "preferred Potomac in the past because of its proximity to D.C. We have usually 8 to 10 rehabs a year and are in a good location for the parent club."
Pfitzner Stadium has had some renovations completed and additional entertainment added for the 2010 season. "We have installed a brand new high definition video board, added a new kids zone and a new drainage system" to help clear rain water after 11 games were lost to the weather last season. He said the field is in good shape following the early February blizzards.
Pfitzner Stadium can hold 6,000 seated customers with the possibility of pushing to 7,000 or even 7,500 with standing room only added in.
Potomac would also be an advantageous starting point for Strasburg because of his familiarity with the coaching staff. Manager Gary Cathcart and pitching coach Paul Menhart worked with Stephen during the Arizona Fall League.
All this might change if Stephen goes out and throws a no-hitter March 9th, says Griffith. "But if he needs the work to get the kinks out," we may see Strasburg in Woodbridge.
And if you haven't been to Pfitzner for a baseball game in the past, you are very close to the action and can almost reach out and touch the fans. "If he is in the bullpen he is basically in the stands at our park. The players have no choice but to be fan friendly."
"We had Drew Storen for 10 days last season and he was great speaking with the fans," Griffith continued. "He stayed late and signed every autograph request. Storen is just an all-around super kid."
For tickets to the Potomac Nationals, call 703-590-2311.
And someday, I will tell you the story of me wimping out on catching a fly ball foul territory at the Pfitz one summer evening. Baseballs sure make a loud noise when they hit metal bleachers, don't they?