Spring Training in Person

Intrepid correspondent and part-time contributor to the blog Brian is fortunate enough to be down in Florida visiting family. Non-coincidentally, it’s the start of spring training, so he went out to check out the Mets-Nats game. He caught warmups, the debut of Bryce Harper, and the mashings of Mike Morse.  He took some completely excellent pictures, as well. Here’s what he had to say:

Today’s game in Port St. Lucie between the Nationals and the Mets was interesting on so many levels.  Since I was lucky enough to be there in person, I wanted to share some of my notes from the game; outside the boxscore type stuff that you could only know by being there.  For those of you in the DC area that want to set the right mood for reading this post, crank the heat in your dwelling to 83 degrees and maybe have someone fan you to simulate the slight breeze towards left field.  You could not have asked for better weather.

– I arrived at Digital Domain field at around 11AM to catch batting practice.  I got to see the Nats lineup take BP and watched all of the accompanying drills.  It was obvious from watching all the activity that Riggleman is running a pretty tight ship.  Every minute before game time was perfectly orchestrated to prepare the team for the game and of course, the season.  The Mets on the other hand didn’t take any BP or fielding practice.  The end result was the Nats were ready to play at game time where as the Mets were not.  This is encouraging to see especially with a young team who is going to have to play stingy defense to make improvements over last year.

– Bryce Harper put on an absolute show during BP.  He started off slow, taking some bunts, taking some to the opposite field, and hitting some line drives.  After two rounds of this he really turned it on, hitting multiple shots off the batter’s eye in center and one into the snack/umbrella area in right center.  The snack area is intentionally hard to reach from home plate; you know, so snackers don’t get bonked in the head with baseballs.  It was pretty impressive.  As for his in-game at bats, Harper looked a little anxious in his first AB.  The Mets had the book on Harper and only showed him two fastballs out of seven total pitches.  In his second AB he took some pitches but in the end couldn’t make contact when they put it in the zone.  As good as he is, it’s so foolish for any of us to believe he’s ready for the big leagues.  I only hope he has some more chances in spring to make up for today’s 0-fer.

– Mike Morse may be getting showcased for a trade.  Not only did he play the entire game but he played at 3B in addition to right field.  I’m no expert in the trade machine but I just don’t know how’s he’s going to fit into the team’s plans as a fourth outfielder when he could potentially get swapped for someone else.  He was mashing in BP and he continued into the game, hitting two no doubters in the late innings.  The glove work was solid in right and at third.

– For the first time in two years, Jesus Flores was back in the lineup for the Nats.  Even though he struck out twice, he definitely looked comfortable and took some pitches.  Who knows how the catching situation is going to shake out but the Nats have got to be pleased with the “problem” of having to choose between Ramos and Flores for the 25-man roster.

Personally, I’m not so sure Mike Morse is “getting showcased for a trade.” I think the Nats LF situation, and for that matter CF situation, is unclear at this point. If they think he’s a late bloomer coming into his own, someone who can do more than just hit lefties, they’d be more than happy to start him in LF. I imagine right now Morse is just a platoon guy, but he’ll probably get an opportunity to work his way up to full time. But that’s just me, obviously Brian is thinking differently. Anyway, on to his pictures:

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