So my cell phone rings the other day and look who's on the line calling from some hunting field in Albany, Georgia...my pre and post game partner, the silver fox, Raymond Charles Knight.
The former World Series MVP and I spoke at great length about spring training finally being here, and how optimistic everyone should be for the 2009 edition of the Washington Nationals.
Not only are Ray and I excited about the upcoming season, we're thrilled to be able to see you Nats fans 81 times at Nationals Park as this year's Nats Extra pre and post game shows will originate from our brand new state-of-the-art set above the left field bullpen for every home game.
The thing Ray and I really enjoy is getting the opportunity to visit with you fans at every home game throughout the season.
I hope you will make us part of your ballpark routine and stop by, catch the show, and talk Nats baseball with us.
We're very excited about what could be a very strong Nationals lineup; who will win the battle at first; and just how many home runs Adam Dunn will produce with his new ballclub.
It looks like 2nd base should belong to Anderson Hernandez on Opening Day. The face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman is solid at 3rd, and he may have a new long term deal before the opener.
Cristian Guzman is one of the best shortstops in their senior circuit, and there are no worries with Jesus Flores behind the plate.
There is a log jam in the outfield with newly acquired Josh Willingham, Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Austin Kearns, Willie Harris, Willy Mo Pena and Roger Bernadina all fighting for a starting spot.
How about some of the Nats' strong young arms led by John Lannan, Collin Balester, newcomer Scott Olsen, and a bullpen stocked with the likes of closer Joel Hanrahan, Saul Rivera, Jason Bergmann, Garret Mock and Steven Shell. Having a Healthy Shawn Hill would also be a plus.
There are a lot of questions to be answered in the next couple of weeks, but that's what spring training is all about and you know some surprises will also be forthcoming out of Vierra. Some young player will catch Manny Acta's eye and be with the ballclub when the season gets underway.
Ray and I both look forward to spending a few days at Vierra with the ballclub and to getting a first-hand look at the 2009 Nats.
Won't be long now 'till Opening Day. See you at Nationals Park!!