A happy Monday morning to you - and if such a thing exists, it certainly does in Viera.
Anyway, Jim Riggleman just finished meeting with the media a few minutes ago. Here are the highlights of what he had to say, broken down in handy bullet-point form:
- It appears the Nationals will take a similar approach with Drew Storen as they are with Stephen Strasburg; Riggleman said again this morning how the Nationals "respect the process" players take to get from the minors to the majors, and added it's likely Storen would start in the minors, barring extraordinary circumstances.
"We probably would lean toward him starting down there (in the minors)," Riggleman said. "You hear such great things about what he's done - his delivery, his strike throwing, he's got a put-away breaking ball. I don't want to say something and (hear), 'Well, you said earlier that wouldn't be the case.' We're open-minded about it. But, the likelihood is all of our young guys who haven't pitched in the minor leagues or haven't pitched much in the minor leagues would start there."
Storen is in a slightly different situation than Strasburg because he signed so early and reached Double-A Harrisburg before the end of the season. But there's enough competition for bullpen spots that the Nationals probably won't feel forced to put the right-hander on the team. The guess here is he goes to Harrisburg to start the year, and is up before long.
- Riggleman said he thinks Pudge Rodriguez "has a lot left in the tank," and didn't seem concerned about the possibility of the 38-year-old starting the year as the team's catcher. It seems increasingly likely that will be the case, with Jesus Flores still being prevented from throwing or taking batting practice.
"My guess is we'll have to hold him back more than him feeling like, 'I need a rest,'" Riggleman said. "I think he's going to be feeling like, 'I want to play more.' We'll monitor it closely and probably keep him out of some games that he feels like he wants to be in."
- Infielder Alberto Gonzalez stands a chance to make the team, but primarily as a defensive replacement. He started strong at the plate last year, and while he ended the year with a .265 average, he hit .222 with a .245 on-base percentage after the All-Star break.
"He got almost 300 at-bats, I think. That was not in the plan initially," Riggleman said. "When you get 300 at-bats, they kind of figure out how to pitch you. Now it's time for him to make the adjustment."
If you're interested in the audio from Jim Riggleman's morning presser, it's available here. That link will act as a library for all the audio I post this spring, so you'll be able to go back and listen to clips you might have missed. Today's audio is broken into two parts again, and given Riggleman's gift of gab, it's possible we'll have quite a few audio files larger than the 10MB limit I'm working with on this site.