VIERA, Fla. - If you don’t happen to follow me on Twitter - and if you don’t, what the heck are you waiting for? - this is what we had to deal with during the middle innings of last night’s Nationals-Astros game.
I feel like I’m fortunate to have made it out of that stadium alive.
All seven, for what it’s worth, have the Nats winning the National League East. Two writers see Bryce Harper winning NL MVP honors, and two more see Stephen Strasburg winning the NL Cy Young.
The bandwagon is starting to get crowded.
The Nats travel to Jupiter today to face the Marlins in their final full-squad road game of spring. That news will certainly make the players happy.
Dan Haren will start for the Nats today, and word is the veteran right-hander made the trip down to Jupiter yesterday in order to avoid needing to travel this morning. Two outings ago, pitching in Jupiter, Haren battled some dead arm and said he completely lacked good feel of his stuff, which he partly blamed on the lengthy drive the morning of his start. Making the trip a day early should allow Haren to stick to his normal pregame routine before today’s 1 p.m. start.
With three days left down here in Florida, there really isn’t all that much left that the Nationals need to accomplish before they’re fully ready for opening day.
They need to figure out whether Chris Young will remain in the organization after the righty opted out of his minor league contract last night. We should know something on Young’s future in the next 24-48 hours.
They need to determine whether Henry Rodriguez can control his stuff and be effective enough to break camp with the team, or whether the flamethrowing righty will have to open the season on the DL as he works back from elbow surgery.
Outside of that, there really isn’t much left on the to-do list before the Nats pack their bags for D.C.
“I think it’s pretty much set,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I’d like to see Henry tune it up a little bit better. I like where Jayson Werth is at. I think he feels real great. Adam LaRoche, I think he’s feeling more comfortable all the time at home plate. And Zim (Ryan Zimmerman) is Zim. I’m not too worried about him. I like what I’m seeing out of Danny Espinosa. He’s had a great spring. He just needs to kind of maintain that mindset. I like where our catchers are at now that they’re all catching complete ballgames. I’m not going to go to (Bryce) Harper. I think what he’s done kind of speaks for itself.
“I think it was fun the other day against Atlanta, where guys were a little more up. That’s one of our main threats in our division. To see the effort they put forth in ballgame against one of their better pitchers (Kris Medlen), that removed any doubts I had about where some guys are at. So we’re getting close.”
Johnson will start to ease off on the whip when it comes to his starting position players over these next few games, allowing them to rest up a bit for the regular season. Same goes for his starting pitchers; each starter will probably only throw 50-75 pitches in his final outing of spring to keep everyone’s arm fresh.
The relievers are a little different story. Johnson will look to get a handful of relievers into back-to-back games this week as a tune-up for the type of action they might see during the regular season. Look for that to include Rafael Soriano and Drew Storen, two of the guys most likely to be needed on consecutive days once the season gets under way.
Johnson also hopes to get Rodriguez into back-to-back games this week, but one of those appearances might come in a minor league game.