WASHINGTON - I want to thank everyone for wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. Right back at you. I hope you have something special planned today.
Somehow, the quotes I posted from Brian Matusz in my last entry appeared below Jeremy Guthrie’s update. Just so there’s no confusion, Matusz was doing the talking.
Luke Scott said his back was feeling better this morning, but he received more treatment and didn’t think he’d be available to pinch-hit later.
Manager Buck Showalter wasn’t ready to eliminate Scott from today’s game, in part because he didn’t want Nationals manager Jim Riggleman to know the availability of every player in his clubhouse. Let Riggleman think that Scott could come off the bench later, which might dictate how he uses his bullpen. And there’s always a chance that Scott’s back improves enough during the game that he can swing a bat.
Showalter said the reports on Chris Tillman at Triple-A Norfolk state that the right-hander’s velocity has improved, but he’s still got to control his pitch counts. Tillman’s last two starts have been cut short because of rain delays. Last night, he threw 65 pitches in 3 2/3 innings.
Third base coach John Russell will return to Pittsburgh for the first time since being fired as Pirates manager following the 2010 season.
“I still have a lot of friends there,” said Russell, who went 186-299 in three seasons.” I spent three years as a coach and three years as a manager. You meet a lot of people. So, you’re looking forward to that. We’re having some dinner with some friends tonight when we get up there - actually, the doctor who delivered our son, Stone. So, there’s a lot of good things about it.
“I don’t know if it’s bittersweet, but a lot of the things that initially we set down and planned in Pittsburgh, we knew it was going to be tough. We got younger every year, we knew we were going to have to make some tough trades. It’s kind of the direction we knew we were going to head. Unfortunately, we went on to lose many games. But this year, you’re kind of starting to see some of the things that we envisioned when I was there - some younger players, if they’re better... that was the plan, when younger players start to develop a little bit, just go out and add some pieces. They added a few guys this year that have helped them. So, it’s a little bittersweet. I’d liked to have seen it through, but I’m not there. I understand the game’s wins and losses. We lost 100 games. I’m very happy here and it’s a great place to be.”
Russell doesn’t see similarities between the Pirates and Orioles.
“It’s a little different here,” he said. “The American League East is a whole different animal. I’m not taking anything away from the National League, but at this point where the teams are in the American League East, this is a tough division, to be able to compete in this division day in and day out, and I think we’ve showed we can do that. There’s still some things I think Buck would like to see as far as a little more depth here and there and some extra pieces that will make us a better club. But no, I see that this organization has a pretty good foothold. There’s some very talented players already that are established. It’s one of the things in Pittsburgh, last year, one through six in our lineup had one year or less service. It’s not that way over here. We’ve got some guys that have been around a little bit that are very good players - (Nick) Markakis, (Adam) Jones for example, (Matt) Wieters, guys that are still relatively young in their careers, which we did not have in Pittsburgh. I think we’ve got a step up. With those kind of players to build around that already have got the experience, that’s a plus for us.”
So how does Russell expect to be received by Pirates fans tomorrow night?
“A lot of the people in Pittsburgh that knew what we were doing were very pleased with what was going on,” he said. “You’re always going to have the people that aren’t going to be satisfied, so I’ll get some mixed feelings I guess from the fans. But it’s part of baseball. I knew when I got fired, I’d probably go back there some day in some form as far as an opposing team. You know, you deal with it. There’s a lot of people there I like and enjoy being around, the city’s great and the stadium’s beautiful. I’m just on the other side this time. I’m sure there will be some people that will heckle me a little bit to say the least.”
Update: Nationals starter Tom Gorzelanny is fresh off the disabled list and hasn’t pitched since May 23. He retired the Orioles in the top of the first inning in seven pitches. They might want to make him work a little harder.
Jayson Werth was called out on strikes leading off the bottom of the first. The ball got past Craig Tatum, who threw to first for the out. How often do you see a 2-3 putout on a called third strike?
Adam Jones recorded his eighth outfield assist to end the inning, tops among all center fielders. It was an impressive throw to second base to cut down Ryan Zimmerman, considering that he was stumbling backward in right-center field and didn’t have any momentum going toward the infield.