Pitchers ahead of the curve, position players reporting early

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Davey Martinez is serious about keeping his workouts short and efficient.

Today’s session outside The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the second official pitchers and catchers workout, wrapped up in 90 minutes once again. Players were already back in the clubhouse well before the South Florida sun reached its peak.

Don’t confuse short workouts with lazy workouts, though. Players went through all the usual spring drills, and those pitchers who threw off the mound did so with a purpose.

As he did Thursday morning, Max Scherzer kept throwing well after his bullpen mates had finished. He made a point to work as though he was facing a live batter, the count changing with the result of each pitch, and thus his pitch selection reflecting each scenario.

For example, at one point Scherzer told his catcher he was starting a new at-bat against a left-handed hitter. “I’m facing Miggy,” Scherzer said, knowing Miguel Montero was standing only a few feet away and was listening.

“I’ll start you off with a curveball,” Scherzer said. “You’re going to take it.”

Montero laughed, and then confirmed that he indeed probably would take a first-pitch curveball.

Gonzalez-Throws-Gray-Miami-Sidebar.jpgGio Gonzalez headlined the second pitching group, and while the lefty also pitched as though he was going through a pseudo at-bat (Joey Votto was the hitter in this case) he also paid particular attention to altering his pause times before throwing to the plate out of the stretch, staring down imaginary runners at first or second base.

New Nationals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist was especially intrigued by this and spent extra time talking to Gonzalez about his thought process as the two get to know each other following the offseason coaching staff overhaul.

Martinez was impressed not only with Gonzalez’s attention to detail but with the crispness of his pitches at this early date.

“I watched Gio today, and he was throwing curveballs like he was in the end of May already,” the rookie manager said. “I was just shocked.”

Sunday’s workout features a similar schedule - on the field at 9:30 a.m., off the field by 11 a.m. - with all of the Group B pitchers returning to throw off the mound as they did Friday.

Position players are required to report Monday, and there’s talk of a voluntary workout for them Tuesday (one day before the official first full-squad workout). If the attendance at this week’s voluntary pitchers and catchers workout is a sign of things to come, look for everyone to be on the field.

If nothing else, we’re already seeing a concerted effort on everyone’s part to try to be ahead of the curve this spring. That includes participation. Only a couple of position players have yet to report to camp - all projected backups and minor leaguers - and all of the lineup regulars have been here for a while now.

Does that tell a new manager anything about his team?

“Absolutely,” Martinez said. “Like I said, these guys are professionals. From the other side looking in for many years, I knew that coming in here. It’s a good bunch of guys, great guys, love to play the game. They’re a very tight unit, and I’m just looking forward to being around them every day.”

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