VIERA, Fla. - Players, coaches and reporters braved the elements this morning for the first full-squad workout of Nationals camp, spending about 1 hour, 45 minutes on the minor league fields.
OK, so I know low-40s and windy is nothing compared to what those of you up north are dealing with these days. But humor me as I continue a baseball writer’s spring training tradition of complaining when the temperature dips below 55 degrees.
It was a fairly quiet, low-key workout today; pitchers in the “A” group threw bullpen sessions in front of pitching coach Steve McCatty while the “B” group took part in various drills, and position players fielded ground balls, shagged flies and took batting practice.
Gio Gonzalez looked especially sharp during his bullpen session today, despite conditions that the Hialeah, Fla., native found, uh, less than ideal. The lefty refuses to wear long sleeves when he pitches, regardless of the temperature, so he had to tough it out and battle the brisk conditions while on the mound.
About mid-way through Gonzalez’s mound work, one coach asked him how he was feeling.
“Freezing,” Gonzalez quickly responded.
About a minute later, Gonzalez fired a two-seam fastball that had so much movement that it popped out of the glove of catcher Wilson Ramos.
“Cat, I think I’m going to end on that one,” Gonzalez said with a smile.
“What happened, a curveball that actually broke?” McCatty quipped from further down in the bullpen 10-pack.
Davey Johnson spent the vast majority of the workout watching the young players and new guys on the team to get a feel for what they bring to the table. Johnson said he was impressed with Micah Owings, Will Rhymes and Matt Skole.
Owings, a pitcher-turned-position player who I wrote about earlier today, got work at first base and Johnson said he liked the 30-year-old’s hands around the bag.
“(Must be) all those comebackers, I guess,” Johnson joked.
The plan for now is to use Owings at first and give him some time in left field. Tyler Moore will be used at first, left field and right field, while Johnson said Steve Lombardozzi will focus strictly on infield work this spring and won’t be asked to play in left.
Anthony Rendon, meanwhile, will spend some time with Johnson this spring working on his footwork at second base. Rendon probably won’t be in big league spring training long, and Johnson said he’ll play third base in the minor leagues this season, but he’s going to get a crash course from Johnson in how to play second at some point in the next week or two.
Johnson reported that Ramos blocked pitches in the dirt today for the first time this spring, another obstacle in Ramos’ rehab that he can check off since having surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee last summer.
One batting practice group today consisted of Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper, drawing a large cluster of fans out beyond the fence in search of a souvenir.
Harper sprayed line drives all over the field, sending a handful of balls over the left-center field fence with relative ease. The wind at his back certainly didn’t hurt matters, but Harper still looked really sharp.