Yesterday, I, designated as the Capitol Baseball Florida Correspondent, made the two and a half hour drive down to sunny Viera for the first home game of the Nats 2012 Spring Training. I was promptly rewarded with some very ugly baseball. A 10-2 loss that showcased some serious rust on the part of Nats hitters, fielders, and pitchers. Here is a rundown of my observations from yesterday's game - bullet-point style:
-Stephen Strasburg was not sharp. His velocity was 92-96 (saw it on the scouts gun myself) with his curve in the mid-70s. He threw far too many first pitch balls, and balls in general. Strasburg's hallmark, along with ridiculous stuff, has been an ability to control the zone and throw first pitch strikes. He fell behind in too many counts and it hurt him on the Snyder air strike...err home run. First start, stuff was there, he will shake off the rust and be fine.
-Tom Gorzelanny may play himself out of a job with more performances like that. He got three outs (though technically one was a sacrifice bunt) walked 4, gave up 3 hits, had a wild pitch, all adding up to 7 runs. His stuff was eminently hittable and that needs to change if he wants a job.
-Mattheus, Lidge, Clip and Storen were all good. Mattheus had a tough time getting out of Gorzelanny's mess, but in his own inning he was lights out. Lidge showed no rust, neither did Storen. Clippard was having trouble getting over his fastball and the speed difference with his change-up was not as wide as it needs to be for him to be successful.
-Many of the Space Coast faithful were happy to see Jeff Fulchino in camp. He is a Titusville native (right up 95 from Viera) and is in his first year with the Nats organization. He spend the previous two years with the Astros. He is a big righty who throws with very little effort. Threw strikes and got outs. Which, after Gorzelanny's performance, was a refreshing change of pace.
-The Nats hitters looked very rusty. Jayson Werth got more than his fair share of meatballs and fouled them off. Ian Desmond looked lost at the plate and in the field - contributing two errors. Of the starters only Zimmerman and DeRosa made meaningful contact.
-Wilson Ramos showed nothing to indicate there will be any lasting effects from his ordeal. He was eager to throw to bases and looked very into the game.
-The kids looked great. Bryce showed a tremendous amount of hustle, beating out an infield single, busting his butt to second base to try to break up a double play (that ended up being in vain because I'm fairly certain the zombie versions of Tinkers, Evers, and Chance could double up Carlos Maldonado). He later fully laid out (again in vain) in an attempt to catch a fly ball down the right field line. This all happened after the Nats were down 9-1. This kid loves to play ball. Oh and bonus points for playing with stirrups.
-Anthony Rendon looked decent at shortstop, he is a work in progress. The glove and the arm are there, but the brain-foot communication needs improvement. Third base is very reactive, shortstop you have some time to think about the situation and mess things up.
-Jason Michaels looked like a valuable player. Brett Carroll played like Jayson Werth sans the bank account. The upper hand has been established in the race to be 25 and Michaels is the Mitt Romney to Carol's Rick Santorum after Game #2.
-Space Coast Stadium is a beautiful venue and I know the train is headed for a Nats relocation, but count me among those that hope they stay.
Well that's the view from the stands for the home opener, see something different on TV? See something different in-person? Why didn't you say hi!? Leave some comments!