Life is about adjustments. And sometimes, you just get very lucky and draw to that inside straight. So after a good night’s sleep and a morning workout, we had planned an afternoon visit to minor league camp to check out the team’s future. Maybe see Robles, Fedde, Lopez, or Voth. Write a glowing report or two, head down to Port St. Lucie for the evening’s main event.
The great thing about baseball on the back fields is how it’s the same game, played differently. No scoreboards, no P.A., no walk-up songs. The outfield “wall” is a chain link fence with a yellow pad on top. You can hear things that only are heard in the intimacy of a small field, like the hum of a Scherzer fastball or a grunt of exertion as it is delivered. No grandstand, just portable metal bleachers with bench seating. Spectators number in the low double digits, and… wait, why is the entire minor league system seemingly crammed onto that tiny bleacher, groaning under the unaccustomed weight? Hmm. Hello Mr. Lerner…
OK, why is the owner in minor league camp on a Friday afternoon in March? Well, with a night away game, against a division rival—the division rival even—the Nats decided that Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark would not make the trip south, that’s why. Lucky us that they were getting their work in in Viera rather than on Tradition Field against the Mets!
For the record, Max pitched into the sixth inning of the AAA game against the Astros farm hands. Many were struck out as Max dominated, although they did send up an entirely left-handed lineup in his final inning, managing to scratch out a single run before his pitch limit was reached. On the AA field, Roark also dominated. Although he does not have Max’s soundtrack, Tanner hit his spots and held the young ‘Stro’s to one run over six strong. Photos from the day follow below.
In the nightcap, the Nats pounded Bartolo Colon and the Mets 12-7, and it wasn’t that close. The Nats again were off to a fast start, plating five in the first, highlighted by a Danny Espinosa three run homer that landed half way up the right field berm. Michael Taylor and Chris Heisey added solo shots, and the Nats sealed it when they batted around and added four more in the sixth. Lucas Giolito threw two scoreless and a quartet of relievers contributed four more scoreless innings. Giolito finished his evening with a nasty curveball that took a turn straight down into the dirt that had Palwicki so befuddled that he swung and missed for strike 3 on a pitch he missed by not inches, but feet.
On the not-so-bright side, Felipe Rivero was hit hard and often, giving up two runs and showing quite too much frustration. Erik Davis pitched the ninth and may have sealed his fate for 2016, walking two and giving up a hit before allowing a grand slam to Michael Conforto to make the score deceptively closer.
An intense Mr. Scherzer
Contrasting finishes; Scherzer…
… and Roark
Like being in the game
On the minor league side, you can chat with the GM and owner…
… or walk back to the clubhouse with a player
Zim’s ballet leap
Lucas Giolito: very classic form
Murphy congratulates Michael A.