Game #13 is big for A.J. Cole; Seth Romero incident too.

Cole Romero

Front office VP Bob Miller looks on as 1st rounder Seth Romero signs

Last year, the Nationals in the draft went for the best talent available drafting Seth Romero in the first round even though his reported issues with teammates and the drug culture were well-documented. Nine months later, the gestation period for a newborn baby was all the time Romero needed to break a Nationals rule and get sent home. The irony is that a newborn baby does not have the cognitive ability to control their behavior or adhere to rules. Talent can only take you so far — dedication is a prerequisite towards success.

“There is no use whatsoever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.” —Andrew Carnegie was quoted in the book by John C. Maxwell, “Talent Is Never Enough: Discover the Choices That Will Take You Beyond Your Talent”

The Nationals have had a history of choosing talented players with checkered pasts. None of them have been chronicled more than Elijah Dukes and Nyjer Morgan. Both players had their sets of issues however none of them were sent home rather Dukes was DFA’d, and Nyjer Morgan was traded prior to the 2011 season at the time Jayson Werth was setting a new clubhouse culture in Washington, D.C.

Here we should be spending the morning discussing what A.J. Cole has on the pitcher’s mound while we are now focusing on Seth Romero who just got kicked off the mound. Some players get three strikes and they’re out while others have nine lives. Seth Romero is well on his way to using up his punch-card on chances. A.J. Cole on the other hand has shown the perseverance to succeed, and every game on the mound will give us valuable insight into who he is. Right now he is the presumptive 5th starter as he has little competition for the spot. Unless the Nationals acquire a “sure thing” starter, Cole will be the man who will pitch every 5th game for the Nationals.

Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez keeps insisting there is a competition for the 5th starter spot with Cole, Tommy Milone and Edwin Jackson, and maybe it is — but it’s Cole’s spot to lose. So far, Cole has looked good as his breaking pitches have shown “filthy” movement and his fastball has been enough to be effective. Where is the improved changeup? It feels so Jordan Zimmermann-esque as that was the Spring Training discussion for several years as to whether JZim could add the changeup to his repertoire. Cole and JZim have the same arsenal of pitch types, but Cole has never found the success and triumphs that JZim had with the Nationals.

This is Cole’s chance for a player who has come a long way from “first round talent” like Romero to showing it on the mound. Cole has had his moments, but he is still just considered to be a fringe starter with upside potential. That is where he is in a scout’s eye. No longer a prospect due to his age and MLB experience, but not enough experience to tell us a direction — yet. Or as Frank sung, “The best is yet to come…” and that is the tune GM Mike Rizzo is humming. He has put a lot on the line with Cole, and has publicly named him his 5th starter even though more recently he seemed to back off of that some.

Talent will only get you so far. That seems to be the theme in Spring Training camps. Show me what you have is more of the mantra. Pedigree is wonderful, but who wants it more.

In today’s line-up, Andrew Stevenson will start for the Nationals against Houston’s Charlie Morton. Stevenson has accumulated the most playing time this Spring taking advantage of Adam Eaton‘s inability to play and now Michael Taylor‘s injured oblique. Yesterday, Steve-o hit an opposite field home run into the wind for the Nats only tally against the Cardinals in a 2-to-1 loss.

This will also give young Blake Perkins a chance to be seen as he will back-up Stevenson today, and this will be Perkins third game in a row. Other notables for today’s game are Spencer Kieboom at 1st base and Taylor Gushue at catcher.

Other notes on who is out of the line-up include Ryan Zimmerman (calf), Michael Taylor (oblique), Adam Eaton (knee rehab) and  Daniel Murphy (knee). Trea Turner and Matt Adams both get the day-off.

This “home” game against the neighborhood Houston Astros will be televised on the MASN channel.

Houston Astros vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium:  FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida
1st Pitch: 1:05 pm EDT
Nats Radio: Houston feed

  1. Wilmer Difo SS
  2. Howie Kendrick 2B
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Anthony Rendon 3B
  5. Matt Wieters C
  6. Brian Goodwin LF
  7. Andrew Stevenson CF
  8. Chris Dominguez 1B
  9. Jose Marmolejos DH

A.J. Cole RHP

Photo by LEGnats for TalkNats

Photo by LEGnats for TalkNats

Photo by LEGnats for TalkNats

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