VIERA, Fla. - He might have a new team’s colors on these days, but Michael Morse can still crush a baseball. That apparently hasn’t changed.
Now a member of the Mariners after being traded out west this offseason, Morse reportedly struck a ball so well during batting practice yesterday that it not only flew over the outfield fence, but also had enough distance to carry a road before coming down in a parking lot beyond left field.
Here’s a picture of exactly how far Morse’s shot reportedly traveled.
For those missing Morse right about now, not to worry. The Nationals have a tall, powerful first baseman in camp who is sending batting practice baseballs so far that they’re reaching a street beyond the fence, as well.
Matt Skole, the organization’s 2012 minor league Player of the Year, has put on quite a show early in camp, sending lasers from gap-to-gap in BP. He hit a couple onto Stadium Highway the other day and has turned quite a few heads through the first few days of camp.
Skole crushed 27 home runs last season, spending time with low Single-A Hagerstown and high-A Potomac, and then put up a .944 OPS during 17 games out at the Arizona Fall League. He’s a guy the Nats will have their eyes on this spring and throughout the minor league season.
I mentioned that the Nats were pleased with what they saw from Gio Gonzalez during his bullpen session yesterday, but Davey Johnson got great reports on one other pitcher who threw Sunday morning - Christian Garcia.
“He threw the (crap) out of the ball,” said Johnson, who really likes Garcia’s stuff and his effortless throwing motion.
One of the running jokes early in camp has been Johnson commenting that Jayson Werth will be helping him make out the batting order, something which both the skipper and his right fielder seem to be getting a kick out of. Johnson told a story yesterday about how he ducked into the clubhouse to have a casual conversation with a few players, only to have Werth shout out his two cents about where Bryce Harper should be slotted in the lineup.
“Somebody over to my left said, ‘Where’s Harper going to hit?’ And then Werth’s over here and he said, ‘Third,’ ” Johnson said with a laugh. “So I figured when I heard that, knowing what I know about Jayson Werth, that he’s trying to clear up the second spot and the fifth spot for himself, so that depending on how he comes along, he’ll have the availability to go where he wants to go.”
Sounds like either Werth or Harper will hit in the No. 2 spot to start the season, but I maintain that it’s more likely we’ll see Werth hitting second and Harper behind him in the three-spot come opening day.
It appears likely Johnson will play Denard Span a lot during games against the Mets and Braves this spring, allowing his new center fielder a chance to get to know the pitchers on the Nationals’ division rivals before the regular season starts.
Johnson reiterated yesterday that one of his biggest points of emphasis this spring will be getting Span a good amount of time in the outfield alongside Werth and Harper, in order to allow that trio to get to know each other’s tendencies and get comfortable playing with each other.
The Nationals will start having live batting practice sessions tomorrow, but today it’ll be the “B” group of pitchers throwing bullpen sessions.
Rafael Soriano is set to take the mound for the first time as a National, so I’ll have a report on how the Nats’ new closer looks this morning. It’s warmed up a bit down here on the east coast of Florida, but we’re still battling temperatures in the low-50s this morning. Time to bundle up.