For the previous twelve seasons of the Nationals existence, road trips were always long trips of an hour or longer. Today is reminiscent of the Viera days as the buses will be loading after 7AM at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for the Nationals to travel 3 hours to Lakeland, Florida to Joker Marchant Stadium to face the Detroit Tigers. The 171 mile journey is the longest of the Grapefruit League schedule for the Nationals, and the good news is that after this trip, the Nationals have every remaining road game in Palm Beach County and the two remaining trips to Port St. Lucie (47 miles away) until the team travels back to Ft. Myers on March 30th for the final Grapefruit League game against the Boston Red Sox.
Today, Joe Ross faces off against Mike Pelfrey at 1:05 PM and radio coverage is on the Tigers feed on WXYT 1270 AM. The Nationals will send a travel squad while most veteran players and projected starters will remain in West Palm Beach to workout. As always, MLB rules require the Nationals to send a travel roster per these rules provided by Don H.:
A minimum of four players who were regulars on the previous year’s Major League team or who were platooned on the previous year’s Major League team on a regular basis, or who have a reasonable chance to be regulars on the Major League Club’s squad during the upcoming season should make road trips. Each of those regulars, excluding pitchers, must play a minimum of three complete innings.
The Nationals are coming off a dramatic walk-off win yesterday to open their new spring training home thanks to Michael Taylor who provided the 9th inning two-out home run to break the tie.
Speaking of home runs, the Nationals last trip to Joker Marchant stadium resulted in a Bryce Harper titanic blast that even shocked former Tigers’ Hall of Famer Al Kaline on how far it went.
This is where Bryce Harper’s HR was hit above the tall batter’s eye:
Al Kaline has been watching baseball in Tiger Town since 1953. He said that he's never seen a ball hit where Bryce Harper hit one today.
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) March 20, 2016
The Nationals line-ups for Spring Training were routinely posted the day before each game last year, but that does not seem to be what Dusty Baker is consistently doing this season. Dusty did pre-post a line-up card over the weekend with Adam Eaton leading off, but prior to game time it was learned that Eaton did not make the road trip and was replaced by Michael Taylor. Dusty rarely changed a pre-posted line-up card last year. Speaking of last year, you might also recall that many road trips included a large contingent of starters. This year, because of the early World Baseball Classic schedule, the strategies are different from prior years.
Today’s starting line-up is:
- Emmanuel Burriss 2B
- Brian Goodwin LF
- Michael Taylor CF
- Adam Lind 1B
- Jhonatan Solano C
- Matt Skole 3B
- Wilmer Difo SS
- Brandon Snyder RF
- Spencer Kieboom DH
Joe Ross RHP