The Nationals announced that more than 8,400 people showed up today at NatsFest. Hope everyone who did had a blast.
Unfortunately, as is almost always the case with these events, I was pretty much stashed away in a media work room, making the walk from the interview area to my laptop and then back to the interview area.
Wish I could’ve seen more of the sights and sounds around the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.
Here are a handful of final notes and quotes from a jam-packed afternoon:
* Left-handed pitching prospect Sammy Solis was here with a giant smile on his face. He seemed to really enjoy the experience and also says he’s totally open to the idea of possibly pitching out of the bullpen this year. General manager Mike Rizzo has said that Solis could be an option as a lefty out of the ‘pen, likely not out of camp, but possibly later on in the year. Solis has only minimal experience working out of the bullpen in his baseball career, but that won’t faze him.
“I’m willing to be shortstop, if I have to,” Solis said with a grin.
* Zach Walters had maybe my favorite quote of the day. When asked what he learned last year in his first taste of the big leagues, Walters responded, “If (Jayson) Werth asks you to do anything, you do that. And more.”
* On a similar note, Bryce Harper was asked what he learned about himself last year. He deadpanned, “That I like hitting walk-off homers.”
* I’ll have more on this in the next day or two, but Gonzalez said that he’s been throwing to retired former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada every Tuesday of late. The two have stuck up a friendship, and Gonzalez seems thrilled to be able to work with the four-time World Series-winning catcher.
* Stephen Strasburg has buzzed his head, Danny Espinosa was nearly clean-shaven (which comes as quite a contrast to how he looked at last year’s NatsFest), Ryan Mattheus has a long, impressive beard and Werth’s beard looks exactly the same as it usually does. There’s your style updates for the day.
* Former Nationals ace Livan Hernandez was here today and got a warm reception from the crowd. He’s “99 percent” sure he’s going to be down at spring training this year serving in some type of coaching role. I asked Livo if he still has any hopes of playing, or if he considers himself retired. He cracked a smile. “I think I could be the best at throwing BP,” he said.