Friday in Viera wraps up with Scherzer vs Harper in BP

Hi, this is Laura (ArVaFan) with a final report for February

Feb. 26, 2016
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.—A whole lotta people, including me.
So, we’re driving up I-95 to Sanford to catch the auto train back to DC.

Lemon: Checked my email, and there’s one from Amtrak: please call this number regarding your reservation. That is unlikely to be good news, and it wasn’t: train delayed at least two hours (turned out to be a 9 hour delay, if we’re lucky).

Lemonade: next exit was Space Coast Stadium, we arrived in time to see the end of the warmups. Next step was explaining to all the folks I’d said goodbye to yesterday why we were back today.

Bryce got to play catch with his favorite partner today. Werth was back, looking shaggy as ever. Not feeling 100%, but a lot better than yesterday (I had a chance to chat with him as he went between fields). He kept up with most of the drills, although he did sit down rather than stand around while waiting for batting practice. Yes, he was wearing his wrist guard for batting practice. At the conditioning drills at the end, the trainer asked him if he wanted to be excused if he wasn’t feeling well, and he said “no.” He was still keeping up with Bryce on those drills.

laura 26 reed johnson excercise
The outfielders started with popup drills while the infielders did grounder drills: grounder to third, grounder to first (sometimes with a throw to second) third to first. Tony seemed to be picking everything, but I did actually see Zim miss a grounder. One. The outfielders were not just practicing catching the balls thrown by the pitching machine, they were also practicing not running into each other.

laura 26 rendon

Then there were infield popup drills, where a pitcher would pretend to throw a pitch, then call “who’s got it, who’s got it?” Gio ended up catching his own ball the second time, since whoever called it the first time dropped the ball. When Pap calls “I got it” you can hear it in the next field. And yes, he got it.

Speaking of Pap. After watching him all week, I have to say that he just seems to be a normal part of the team. As I mentioned, he and Gio seemed to have clicked. Whoever decided that their lockers should be next to each other either has a warped sense of humor or is a blooming genius. Gio marches to his own (jazz) drummer, and Pap is strictly by the book. If a little discipline rubs off on Gio, or a little sense of humor on Pap, they could both be better off for it. Worth a try, right? But standing around by the fences, the subject of Pap came up frequently. “Don’t want his autograph.” “Looking forward to booing him every ninth inning.” “Couldn’t they have traded him?” “Could have done without seeing him.” Etc. Didn’t hear a single positive comment among the fans, and I talked with a lot of them. (I never raised Pap’s name first.)

Probably not to anyone’s surprise, I strike up conversations with everyone: or, people start talking to me, usually based on my hat pins. That’s another benefit of spring training—meeting other fans from around the country (plus Canada). Met a woman who was sporting a Vermont Lake Monsters shirt. She hosts minor leaguers, and if you remember, they used to be a Nats affiliate. So she still knows a number of the pitchers, and comes down each year to see how they’re doing, including cooking them a homemade dinner or two at her rental. Then she heads off to AZ to check on the rest of “her boys.”

MAT got some one-on-one hitting instructions from Dusty.
laura 26 batting cage
The brain trust decided they needed to go up in the tower to consult and/or supervise the multiple fields.
laura 26 a
Speaking of the brain trust, someone asked Dusty if he’d memorized all the players’ names yet. He said he’d made progress, but just in case he had a laminated roster list in his back pocket.

Today was definitely more crowded than previous days: over 300 fans, so it actually got to be three deep when Harper and Zim were trying to get a hit off Scherzer. I’ve been underestimating the crowd (partly because folks come and go): fan attendance has been in the 100-200 range earlier in the week. Anyway, it’s certainly worth coming down if you can. Hope that Mark Lerner will come through on his promise that the fan experience was considered when designing the new stadium in WPB.

There were a lot of locals counting the days until the Nats move to West Palm Beach and mourning the looming permanent absence of the Nats in Viera. They will still have their minor league Manatees, and the stadium will be taken over by a travel team association on December 1 (per one of the groundskeepers). If you do come, watch out for large birds: Florida has some seriously large birds (as in “look Jose Altuve in the eye” size cranes). No wonder Denard ended up scared of them!

The highly anticipated matchup between Scherzer against Royce Bryce Harper kept the crowds around. A high pop fly in the video but we can tell everyone it went over the fence since you can’t see where the ball landed. You will notice that Scherzer stepped in front of the L screen to pitch.

Next week, many fans will hope they time it right to see Giolito vs. Bryce as the matchup in ‘live’ BP. Get those cameras ready!

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