VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals got lucky today, and Matt Williams knows it.
The rain just started coming down pretty hard here, only a couple of hours after the Nats finished their workout on the back fields by the minor league complex. It was sunny and breezy during the workout, and now it’s pouring.
In the second day of full-squad workouts, Danny Espinosa was right back at shortstop, backing up Ian Desmond in the first drills run this morning. This marks the second day in a row Espinosa began the day getting reps at short.
Espinosa did move over to second base midway through infield drills, where he split time with Anthony Rendon. That was the first time since full-squad workouts began that those two had shared time at second base, alternating on the grounders hit their way.
While playing second base, Espinosa made one ridiculous play to his backhand side on a ball hit up the middle. He fielded the ball and flipped it right on the money to Desmond covering second, all without the ball really entering the webbing of his glove. It was almost like a one-touch pass, like you see in hockey or soccer, and it was as smooth as can be.
The guy really can pick it defensively.
Tyler Moore really looked sharp around the first base bag today, moving quickly and delivering crisp throws right on target during drills that had the first baseman making tosses over to third base. I’ll have more on Moore in a little bit.
Bryce Harper cut short his batting practice session yesterday because he wasn’t feeling loose, a problem caused by Matt Williams’ morning meeting affecting his normal pre-workout routine. Harper typically hits in the cage before the workout begins as a way to loosen up, but Williams’ lengthy meeting didn’t allow him to do so to the extent he would have liked to. He didn’t feel good during batting practice yesterday, so Williams said Harper decided to just sit the rest of the session out instead of developing bad habits.
Today, Harper put on a show during BP, crushing line drives all over the field. He even took one out to right field so far that it landed in the lake beyond the fence.
First baseman Brock Peterson, in camp on a minor league invite, also put one in the lake over on Field 3 during his BP session. Peterson, who hit .296/.364/.531 with 30 homers last season for Triple-A Memphis (a Cardinals affiliate), has some huge power, and also sent a ball out over the tall batter’s eye in center.
“Write that one down,” he said with a smile, when he saw me watching on.
I did, Brock.
Also in Peterson’s BP group were Matt Skole and Jamey Carroll. Peterson is 6-foot-3, 215 lbs. Skole is 6-foot-4, 220 lbs. Carroll is generously listed at 5-foot-11, 175 lbs. Quite a contrast.
At one point, though, Carroll sent a high fly ball to left. The wind was blowing out, and after crushing quite a few homers of their own, Peterson and Skole wanted the 40-year-old Carroll to send one over the fence.
“C’mon, wind!” either Peterson or Skole shouted, only to see the ball land on the warning track.
“Dang it!” Carroll said, smiling and shaking his head, as he walked out of the cage.
Meanwhile, right-hander Tyler Clippard did not throw a bullpen session today due to some discomfort in his back. Clippard said that the back issue isn’t anything serious, however, and he’s scheduled to take part in the workout tomorrow and then throw a bullpen session on Sunday.
“It’s a precautionary thing,” Clippard said. “They’re kind of holding me down. I don’t really want to be held down, to be honest with you. I wanted to be out there today. They didn’t let me. Early in spring, they don’t want me to rush it. Trying to take care of me, I guess.
“I’m champing at the bit. I’ll be out there tomorrow.”