VIERA, Fla. - As I mentioned earlier, the Nationals have confirmed that closer Rafael Soriano’s arrival at camp has been delayed by a visa issue. According to a source, because Soriano has a new employer, his previous visa, which was for five years, needs to be adjusted.
While the Nats would obviously prefer to have Soriano in camp, it’s still very early. Camp is extended this year because of the World Baseball Classic anyway, and it’s not like Soriano hasn’t been through this process before.
That’s why manager Davey Johnson isn’t concerned about Soriano missing a couple days as he tries to work through these issues.
“Well, I’m not really worried about him because here’s a veteran pitcher. He knows what he needs to do to get ready,” Johnson said. “I’ve been used to dealing with that kind of stuff with visa problems. But they’ve got great weather down there (in the Dominican Republic), I’m sure he’s not just sitting in (and) watching TV.
“I’m sure he’ll come into camp in good shape. That’s the least of my worries.”
The Nationals’ morning workout was cut a little bit short by a rain storm that actually is still ongoing, but the pitchers and catchers who all took to the minor league fields were able to get pretty much all their work in.
“It was great to get out there,” Johnson said. “It was fun to see the guys and the weather helped just right. We got our work in, everybody got their last pitch in, then the big drops came. The only change in the workout was the catchers hit in the cages and got all the work in. It was a good day.”
Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler and Drew Storen made up the first group of pitchers to take to the mounds for bullpen sessions. Zach Duke, Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen and Bill Bray were part of the second group, and Christian Garcia, Cole Kimball, Nathan Karns, Erik Davis and Pat McCoy were the third group to throw.
Johnson stood from behind the mounds and watched all of the pitchers get their work in. Those who did not throw today took part in pitchers’ fielding practice, bunting drills and got work on fielding comebackers.
“I tell you, I was excited,” Johnson said. “Gio was way ahead of where I thought he’d be. He doesn’t do a whole lot of throwing in the offseason, and I actually had to sit on him. He was firing the heck out of the ball. Great breaking ball. All the guys threw the ball good. I was focusing a lot on some of the new guys. But very impressive arms, great work habits, and they’re a lot farther along than I thought they’d be.”
Gonzalez was his typical joking self during his bullpen session, stepping off the mound at one point to share a laugh with Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty.
There are a couple stickers that I’ve seen floating around the clubhouse (one of which is posted on Gonzalez’s locker) with the word “Cattitude” written on them. They’re an ode to McCatty, I suppose.
After his bullpen session was complete, Gonzalez turned to McCatty and said, “That was for you, Cat.”
“I appreciate it,” McCatty replied. “Cattitude.”