I’m back in the press box at Nationals Park, perched high - and I mean high - above field level.
After two months of press boxes in spring training parks where we were practically right on top of the action, this view is pretty jarring. Tough life, I know. I just seriously feel like I’m in the clouds right now.
A bunch of changes have been made around Nationals Park from the last time we were here. There’s a giant Ian Desmond banner up above the concourse in left field joining ones of Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman and an “NL East Division Champions” logo is bolted to the wall outside the Presidents Club.
I also heard that there’s a picture of Werth leaping onto home plate after his dramatic National League Division Series Game 4 walkoff homer somewhere around the park. I’ll need to take some time early in the season and walk around to take everything in.
Manager Davey Johnson got done meeting with reporters a bit ago, and even though today is the final exhibition game before the Nats open things up against the Marlins on Monday, Johnson is waiting to name his opening day starting catcher.
Johnson says he’s “pretty much” decided who that guy will be - Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki are his two options - but that he’s going to wait until Sunday to inform the players. We likely won’t have our answer until Monday, when the lineup is officially posted.
The Nationals will also wait until after the game today to announce their final roster move. They will need to decide what to do with right-hander Henry Rodriguez, which will directly impact left-hander J.C. Romero.
Johnson said Romero, signed last Friday to a minor league deal, is “still a candidate,” but for Romero to crack the 25-man opening day roster, Rodriguez would either need to land on the disabled list or be exposed to waivers, which the Nats would prefer not to do.
Johnson brushed off the DL idea, saying that if Rodriguez is healthy, “he’s going to pitch.” And while Rodriguez had elbow surgery last August and missed time early this spring as he worked his way back, Johnson feels the righty is healthy now.
“He’s throwing 98, it just ain’t going over,” Johnson said.
Johnson isn’t blind to Rodriguez’s control issues. He joked that Rodriguez has gotten better this spring, progressing from three walks in an inning to two, and then cutting it down to one.
“You try to give them a fair shake to get to where you know they’ll get when they have enough throwing,” Johnson said. “He’s still a great talent, and I’m certainly not anywhere close to giving up on Henry. ... If he’s healthy, he has three off the charts, big league pitches. What has he pitched, about nine innings this spring, given up two hits? He’s tough. And it’s been an offensive spring for a lot of clubs.
“He’s certainly got the potential to be awful good.”
Meanwhile, asked about Ryan Zimmerman and the way he’s looked over the last seven weeks, Johnson said that Zimmerman’s health has “been probably the most gratifying thing this spring.”
Johnson lumped Ramos in there, as well, and pointed out that unlike last year, there weren’t any major health issues for the Nats in spring.
“Everyone’s pretty frisky,” Johnson said.
One final note on Christian Garcia: The right-hander, who hasn’t picked up a baseball in more than five weeks due to a partially torn tendon in his right forearm, will get examined by a team doctor on Sunday. If all goes well, he’ll be cleared to throw from 60 feet on Monday.