Mock and Wilkie look to make positive impressions

Right-hander Garrett Mock is looking to rebound from neck surgery that derailed his 2010 season. Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty said Mock has worked hard to get healthy and is ready to just put it on the field

"Garrett and I have talked so much the last four years," McCatty said. "All I tell him is, 'Just sit back and let your ability speak for you.' He has tremendous stuff. We all try to get it to surface on the field. Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way, so to speak."

"I thought last year after spring training, it was going to happen, but then he had the problem with his neck. He has to just get out there and trust it and pitch. That is the best advice I can give him. We talk about the mechanical things, we talk about all that kind of stuff, but when it is all said and done, he needs to just go out there and let his ability take over."

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McCatty has always liked what he sees from undrafted right-hander Josh Wilkie out of George Washington University, a non-roster invitee to Nationals camp in Viera, Fla., this spring.

"The prototypical case of someone that, when we talk about him we say 'Well, we love the flamethrowers,' " McCatty said. "Josh is not that. But he has fastball that is any where from 88 to 89 mph, (and) he has an outstanding changeup."

Wilkie can build around that pitch and get hitters out.

"He competes," McCatty said. "You have a guy who is willing to come in and throw strikes. You have a quality offspeed pitch that is going to make his fastball play better. There is no telling what you are going to get. Guys like that, the game has to stop you. He has been real successful the last couple of years and he is a competitor.

"It is like height in basketball. Everybody wants the 7-footer because you can't teach height. It is hard to teach a 100 mph fastball. Everybody that kind of falls below that you just watch and see how they go. Josh has done well. I loved what he did for us last spring training. He did great. He has been real successful the last couple of years. I am happy that he is here."

Who is in left? There are questions that need to be answered as to who will start out manning the corner opposite Jayson Werth on March 31. Today is the first day the Nats will find out with a real game.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman feels the team has some guys that can play in left field.

"We will certainly miss Josh Willingham's good contributions in left," Riggleman said. "He became a much better outfielder and hit the ball out of the ball park. But I think that Mike (Rizzo) made a great trade acquiring some guys from Oakland. We happen to have two young guns there, Mike Morse and Roger Bernadina, that are looking to make their statement in the game. Rick Ankiel is looking to get his career back on track. I think the competition we have with those three guys will raise the level of play."

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