WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Day two of full-squad workouts at Nationals camp looked a lot like day one. Aside from the Hockey Hall of Famer in attendance this time.
We’ll get to Bobby Orr in just a moment. But first, the actual baseball stuff.
Just as they did Tuesday, the Nats emerged from their morning “Circle of Trust” meeting and fanned out across the practice fields outside FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to begin stretching and throwing. Infielders took grounders. Outfielders worked as a group. Then everyone gathered in one place for full team defensive fundamentals.
Live batting practice featured the same format as Tuesday’s session, with pitchers from Group B taking the mound this time instead of Group A. That included Stephen Strasburg, who faced the same hitting group Max Scherzer saw the previous day: Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Brian Dozier and Matt Adams.
The Strasburg-Soto pairing drew a large crowd, as you might expect. Soto got the big right-hander with one well-struck ball, but Strasburg got him back with a nasty curveball that had the kid flailing.
Like Scherzer, Strasburg pitched two simulated innings” taking a break after his first 15-20 pitches and then returning to throw another 15-20 before calling it a day.
There are no more live BP sessions scheduled. Everyone will now start to get into game-mode in anticipation of Saturday evening’s Grapefruit League opener against the Astros (6:30 p.m. on MASN, if you didn’t know).
Davey Martinez confirmed what Scherzer told us Tuesday: He’ll be starting the spring opener. Sounds like Joe Ross will follow Scherzer on the mound before they turn to regular relievers. Erick Fedde is tentatively slated to start Sunday against the Cardinals in Jupiter.
OK, the more important stuff now: the presence of hockey greatness at today’s practice.
Orr lives in nearby Jupiter, and he apparently knows Nationals visiting clubhouse manager Matt Rosenthal, whose son is a big-time youth hockey player. So Rosenthal invited the Bruins legend to come to camp today, and plenty of folks were in awe of him.
“I mean, arguably top two players of all time? Arguably,” said right fielder Adam Eaton, a big hockey fan. “I mean, I was speechless. It’s hard for me to be speechless, as you know. It’s hard for me to be at a loss for words. And I wanted to talk to him, but nothing came out when I was talking. It’s really cool.”
Mike Rizzo, who owns jerseys of Orr and Bobby Hull (his two favorite players of all time), got a photo with Orr today and said he’ll frame it and hang it in his office.
“I saw a lot of good things today, but that was right up there,” Martinez said. “It was awesome.”
“And on top of it all, he’s a great human being,” Eaton added. “I really enjoyed the 30 seconds I got to talk to him. It was awesome. Probably the highlight of my spring training. It already happened.”