McCatty talks about Lannan's struggles at Triple-A

The tarp has been pulled off the field, the drizzle here at Nationals Park has stopped, and we're set to start tonight's game on time.

As for what will happen later on, well, we'll have to hope for the best.

Since being optioned to the minors and subsequently requesting a trade, John Lannan has really struggled.

In two starts for Triple-A Syracuse since his surprising demotion two days prior to the start of the regular season, Lannan has allowed a combined 13 runs (nine earned) over just six innings. He's given up 15 hits in that time, with five walks and four strikeouts.

Tonight, Lannan will get a chance to take a step in the right direction, as he takes the mound for Syracuse as the Chiefs host the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty has talked with Lannan over the phone since the lefty was sent down to Triple-A, and while McCatty said he wouldn't reveal what the two men discussed, he said he understands how difficult of a stretch this has been for Lannan.

"John's a very resilient guy, he's mentally tough, I think," McCatty said. "I know it's really tough. My experiences tell me (so), I've been through it. It's hard to do, but again, if you're not mentally tough in this game, it will eat you alive. And I think he'll be able to handle it. He understands the situation, and hopefully he goes out and has a great game tonight, because he's a quality pitcher."

Lannan came out of the gate flat in his first outing, going just two innings and allowing five runs on six hits. McCatty said he had a feeling a rough outing from Lannan might be coming, given the swing of emotions the 28-year-old was going through after getting optioned.

"I half expected the first time would be tough for him, because you're down, you're depressed," McCatty said. "It's like you're used to being here and the next thing you know, you're on a bus or there's 12 lockers and everybody's sharing them down there. So it's a little different situation. But the last time he was out, I talked to (director of player development) Doug Harris, I know he gave up a lot of cheap hits. The ball was not hit hard at all. There was an error in there that cost him a couple runs.

"But that's the things that make you better. You learn from your experience, you keep focused on what you're doing and you keep going ahead. Can't worry about what happens. Once you throw the ball, it's out of your hands. It's the next pitch. It's always the next pitch, getting the next guy out. That's what it is."

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