Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, small woodland creatures are procreating like mad, and the Nationals are having confidence issues with the size of their staff. The early concerns out of Spring Training '06: Pitchers & Catchers Edition are all related to the starting staff. Cap'n Hook would like to firm up his staff and increase its size by at least 3.
The top of the rotation is set. Livan Hernandez will start Opening Day vs. the Mets, followed by the newly-bearded John "Still Not Big Nasty" Patterson. After that, it's a crapshoot. The NTP morning line has Lawrence-Ortiz-Drese filling out the rotation, with Jon Rauch in the 'pen as a long reliever and Tony Armas starting the season on the DL with a nasty hangnail.
On the catcher side of things, two-headed back-up catcher Robatt LeFick is getting some work in with Bob Boone. Boone is working with Robert Fick on throwing the ball to second base, a semi-essential catcher skill. Quoth Fick:
"The rap on me is my throwing. [Boone] said he is going to make me an accurate thrower to second base. I have the arm strength, but I haven't had the accuracy. We talked about the correct form. It was different information than I ever heard before."
Which immediately made me think of Rube Baker. Wherefore art thou Tom Berenger? Other disturbing Spring Training tidbits:
- Joey Eischen dropped 17 pounds because his wife decided to become a professional bodybuilder. Her first mission: Hunt down Wil Cordero and kick his a**!
- Cap'n Hook acknowledges mistake, admits it was wrong to send Chad Cordero out to close 163 games last season, including the exhibition opener. New plan: Robatt LeFick will split time at back-up closer.
- Competition for Felix Rodriguez: Nats sign reliever Kevin Gryboski to a minor league deal. Addition by accumulation continues!
Update: Just a Nats Fan has the first sights of Spring Training (mostly bald guys and Japanese bondage.) The Nats Blog's DM posts a thoughtful, well-argued response to Dave's Business of Baseball bombshell.