Despite the initial forecast for today, it’s turned into a beautiful day at Nationals Park.
The sun is beaming down right now, and the grounds crew is tending to the infield and taking squeegees to the outfield turf to spread out the water that accumulated overnight and into the morning. We might get some light rain later in the afternoon, but it appears the heavy stuff will miss us.
And weatherman Dan is done for the day.
“Keep him healthy,” Johnson deadpanned.
Yeah, that’d be a nice start.
With Wilson Ramos and Sandy Leon both going down with injuries, the Nationals’ catching depth is being tested right now. And luckily, they’ve got both the bodies and the talent to be able to get through this stretch without needing to add anyone from outside the organization via trade.
“We’re fortunate, like I’ve said a lot, that we have a lot of depth at catching,” Johnson said. “But this is getting ridiculous.”
Maldonado is the latest guy to get the call. The 6-foot-2, 290-lb. backstop (he’s a big guy, all right) has appeared in 25 major league games in his career, four of which came with the Nats in 2010, and has played nearly 1,200 games in the minors.
The 33-year-old is known mostly for his defense and his work with the pitching staff, and Johnson actually said that he felt Maldonado was the Nats’ best catcher at handling pitchers during spring training. Maldonado is a .185 career hitter in the majors and was batting .211 with two home runs and six RBIs this season at Triple-A Syracuse.
For those wondering about how the Nationals handle plays at the plate from a defensive perspective, they instruct their catchers to leave a little bit of an opening for runners to get to the plate so that guys don’t need to barrel into the catcher.
Unfortunately, Leon blocked off the entire plate last night (“a gutsy play,” Johnson said), leaving Padres third baseman Chase Headley no choice but to bowl him over, causing Leon’s high ankle sprain.
All the catcher movement at the major league level has left the Nats shuffling things within the minor league ranks, as well.
Jhonatan Solano was expected to be the starter at Triple-A Syracuse coming into the season, but he’s been sidelined recently with a herniated disk, Syracuse’s assistant director of communications Kevin Brown told my colleague Byron Kerr.
The Chiefs don’t think Solano will be sidelined too much longer, but he’s not with the team right now. Jeff Howell is with Syracuse and can handle some of the catching load, and the Chiefs got some additional help today when James Skelton was promoted from Double-A Harrisburg.
Catcher Beau Sunbury was subsequently brought up to Harrisburg from Single-A Potomac to replace Skelton, and let’s not forget about David Freitas, who is hitting .300 this season at Potomac and is also very highly thought of.