Western Swing (Updated)

It’s 9:15 a.m. on Monday morning in D.C. and we are on a bus headed to the airport. After a mechanical problem with our plane last night, they sent us home. Ahh, the not so glamorous part of traveling with a big league club.

At least we’ll all be safe and today was a scheduled day off in San Francisco. I have to say it was impressive to see the players quietly get off the charter and head home. There really wasn’t any bickering or complaining. This is a club that understands that things happen. It probably helped that everyone was in a good mood after Josh Willingham’s dramatic tenth inning bomb to beat the O’s and take two out of three from Baltimore.

What a good win. To see Josh hit his second homer in two days shows he is seeing the ball pretty well. And how about Roger Bernadina? His bases clearing triple in the first inning was his first hit off Kevin Millwood, a pitcher he had never faced before. Roger also had an RBI triple on Saturday against the Orioles. He’s doing a fantastic job of taking advantage of his playing time in the outfield.

Meanwhile, outfielder Justin Maxwell will be back in the mix after being called up from Syracuse on Sunday. He told me he’s not getting frustrated by the up and down shuttle he’s experienced between the big leagues and Triple-A. Like Roger, he said he is going to make the most of his opportunity with the Nats.

One thing that could help Justin is that he is wearing prescription glasses now when he hits. He told me he saw Dr. Keith Smithson, an eye doctor in Alexandria, Virginia. The doctor told him the glasses should have some performance benefits. In his last four games in Syracuse he was hitting .368, so they seem to be helping already.

One item of concern today is the health of veteran catcher Pudge Rodriguez. Nats GM Mike Rizzo told me on the plane last night that the 38-year-old was heading to Miami to see his doctor. Sunday morning Pudge told me he wasn’t feeling good and didn’t think he’d be ready to play Tuesday in San Francisco. Syracuse catcher Jamie Burke could be a choice for the Nats to join the club if Pudge is out for an extended amount of time.

(Update: It looks like Carlos Maldonado will get the call to fill Pudge’s place while he recovers from a lower back strain.)

We are almost at the airport, so we’ll be boarding the plane shortly. We’re scheduled to be in San Francisco by late morning west coast time, so there will be ample opportunities for the guys to enjoy their day off!