Greetings from Florida. I suppose you'd call this a working vacation and I've been trying to find that perfect balance during my trip to Viera this week. It is tougher than it seems. Sure it's lots of baseball, lots of sunshine (finally) and lots of fun, but never forget how hard these writers work!
It has been a blast checking in with our MASN folks -- Ben Goessling, Debbi Taylor, Bob Carpenter, Rob Dibble, Phil Wood and Ray Knight. Everybody is ready for a new season and the launch of MASN2 HD. Many of them shared their first memories of baseball with me because I'm working on a future weekly series called "My First Game." More on that soon!
Also, a quick apology. I packed my awesome new camera and I packed the charger for it. Somehow, I forgot the battery -- and nobody here in Viera seems to carry the model. I will make it up to you during the season, I hope.
A few other observations, for fans making the trip or just patiently waiting for Opening Day:
The team store in Viera is selling Nationals hats in Hebrew. I think this is a first -- I never noticed them before. They are selling for $25.
Secondly, Ryan Zimmerman has a new gold patch on his Rawlings glove reserved only for Gold Glove winners. I didn't get a chance to talk to him about it, but make sure to look for it during MASN's spring training telecasts.
I asked Ryan about the gold patch on his glove on Tuesday. Modest as always, Zimmerman said it wasn't that big of a deal. "I don't really look at it that much," he said. "I work hard to play good defense because it helps our team win. I think that's the most important thing."
It was great to see former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara at the Astros game last Saturday. Here's a great shot of a pre-game conversation between the Bush family, Davey Johnson and Jim Riggleman.
Lastly, I'm not sure if it was mentioned in other accounts of Stephen Strasburg's start on Sunday, but something he said really stuck out to me.
"I haven't proven anything and it's based on the draft, all the hype and it's going to bring some attention," Strasburg said.
"But at the same time, it's going to show the world that there's a lot of other good players in this organization and some of those guys will get some nation-wide exposure."
I think that says a lot about Strasburg as a person and though I saw him pitch for the first time on this trip, I was even more excited to hear him say something like this.
The extra buzz around Nats camp this week came from MLB Network, which airs its 30 Clubs in 30 Days special on the Nationals on Tuesday, March 16th at 9:00 p.m. Don't miss it!
Photo of Ryan Zimmerman from Mark F. Demers