WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The final day of full-squad workouts before Grapefruit League play opens Saturday night saw the Nationals debut a new fundamentals drill that underscored their renewed emphasis on little things this spring.
The entire team gathered on Field 3 for a situational defense and baserunning drill, one with a twist.
Davey Martinez had mapped out 15 different game situations for everyone to simulate. Situations like: “Runners on first and second, nobody out, bunt play,” or “Runners on second and third, one out, grounder to third.”
The defense then had to successfully make each play. Not necessarily record an out, but execute the play correctly.
If someone made a mistake? They had to do it over. If they didn’t get it right again? The whole team had to add five extra situations on the back end of the drill.
So, how’d they do? Pretty good.
In each case, though, they got the play right on the second try, so the rest of the team didn’t have to suffer for it.
The best play made during the drill? Probably the nifty, 5-4-3 double play Anthony Rendon and Brian Dozier turned on a slow roller to third. The more you watch Dozier in the field, the more you realize what an upgrade he should be for the Nationals.
The workout wrapped up with the final session of live batting practice, which featured a couple of close calls.
Sean Doolittle, pitching off one mound to a group that also included Dozier, Soto and Matt Adams, nearly was struck by a comebacker off Trea Turner’s bat. The ball ricocheted off the “L screen” by the mound as Doolittle reacted with relief.
On an adjacent field, Trevor Rosenthal drilled Rendon with a fastball on the upper left arm. Rendon shook it off and continued the session, then jokingly reacted later as though he was injured. He may be bruised, but he did not appear to actually be injured.