The last time we saw Anibal Sanchez on a mound against the Cardinals it was on the road and he was twirling a no-hitter in the 8th inning. That game just happened to be the most important start of Sanchez’s career — Game 1 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS). Today, the Washington Nationals will take to the road from their home stadium at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and drive the 14 miles north to Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Sanchez will start on the mound with the hopes of going two innings and about 30 pitches. Some of the Nats players actually have Spring Training residences closer to Jupiter and will drive themselves, and this is why the Nationals relocated from Viera to Palm Beach County so they could avoid long road trips and with that said — the team has one of those excruciating road trips tomorrow when they head to Tampa to play the Yankees. Few want to go on that Tampa trip on a bus for 3 ½ hours each way and over two hundred miles.
With yesterday’s loss to the Mets, the Nats enter this game with a 1-2 record plus one rainout. It is a good thing that these records don’t matter in the bigger picture, and early camp is about players working on their game and getting in their work. The hitters will be working on getting their timing synchronized to the fastballs.
It is also difficult to not look at the results in a stats oriented game. But sample sizes are miniscule so we really must look at the process ultimately. How do the mechanics look, what is the players’ track record, and how is each players health. In early camp, that is what matters. In the same breath, some players have made some tweaks that are on display. One player who has made some mechanical tweaks is Michael A. Taylor. He has gone from being up straight in the batter’s box to bending in his knees and shoulders forward. We will see if it works.
When we talk about a player’s health, that can also include the shape that they are in. We talk about that being the best shape of his life (BSOHL). We noticed that Victor Robles put on some more muscle in his upper body and more girth in his lower body. The same goes for Carter Kieboom who we were told added over 20 pounds to his frame in the offseason. Even Juan Soto looks like he filled out a little more, and Eric Thames is just a beast.
Eventually, this will all be about results. Excuses rarely matter, and it mostly fans giving those excuses.
“I am the guy to look at myself,” tennis great Rafael said about what happens when he loses. “I needed to move forward, to change that dynamic, and I did. But the first step to change that dynamic is not to find an excuse on the racket or on the string or on something that is not the truth. The only truth is that you have to do things better to be able to fight for the point and fight for the match.”
Cheers to no excuses.
This game today in Jupiter starts at 1:05 pm. Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick, Kurt Suzuki, and Eric Thames will be in the starting lineup. Add Carter Kieboom, Wilmer Difo, Emilio Bonifacio, and Andrew Stevenson to players who will be in the lineup today. Mac Williamson will get the start in rightfield, and it will be Stevo who will sub in for Williamson. Yadiel Hernandez and Luis Garcia will both sub in also at leftfield and shortstop respectively.
The Cardinals will be broadcasting on FOX Sports Midwest that is available on the MLB app.