Johnson a bit too “frisky” for exhibition opener

VIERA, Fla. - Think it’s just players who get pumped up for the first exhibition game of spring training?

Think again.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson was so juiced (or, in his words, “frisky”) for today’s exhibition against Georgetown that he ramped up his morning treadmill session. The result wasn’t what the skipper was hoping for.

“I overloaded my hummingbird rear end and a little air came out of my right hammy,” Johnson said with a smile. “So, I’m not quite ready yet, is what I’m trying to say. I’m not quite ready to start the season. I’m on the DL a little bit right now.”

Can’t say I’ve heard the phrase “overloaded my hummingbird rear end” before, but I’ll roll with it.

As Johnson shakes off any lingering tightness in that hammy, he’ll send 2011 third-round pick Matt Purke out to the mound today against the Hoyas. As you might expect, Johnson’s excited to see what the 21-year-old lefty will bring in his first action as a pro.

“He looks very polished to me, for a young pitcher,” Johnson said. “I know a lot about his press clippings, about his pedigree, what he’s done, but I’m interested to see him get out there and play, as I’m sure he is. I’m sure he’s going to be feeling pretty frisky today, too.”

Righty Edwin Jackson will get the start for the Nats tomorrow in their Grapefruit League opener against the Astros, and it will be Ross Detwiler, not Tom Gorzelanny, that will follow Jackson to the mound.

Gorzelanny had originally been scheduled to be the second Nationals hurler to enter Saturday’s game, but Johnson said that he feels that Detwiler is a little further along than Gorzelanny, and so it will be the lefty Detwiler seeing the action tomorrow.

Asked about the progression of minor league outfielder Destin Hood, who is with the team today to help fill out the bench, Johnson said he feels Hood is the most improved player in the Nats’ system, followed closely by outfielder Michael Taylor.

“I know his pedigree is an outstanding football player as well as baseball player,” Johnson said of Hood, “but I thought watching him over the last couple years, he’s really improved his baseball instincts.”

Meanwhile, today’s exhibition is clearly a special experience for the Hoyas, all of whom who have been lined up on the top step of their dugout for the last 20 minutes watching the Nationals take batting practice.

The college kids (who will use wood bats today) took a team picture with the Nats warming up behind them, and are clearly soaking up this event.

Dan Kolko was named’s Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site’s deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the nationally syndicated “George Michael Sports Machine” in Washington, D.C.

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