Two New Faces in the Clubhouse
I expected to see newly signed lefty Odalis Perez in the Nationals' clubhouse this morning -- and there he was, looking dapper in the team's white home uniform (today being Picture Day) and talking about reclaiming all the "land" he lost in the last few years.
"I've been working my tail off the last two and a half months," Perez said. "I want to show people I have a lot to still give. The way I feel... hungry, this is going to be one of my best years in the big leagues." As for why he chose the Nationals over the Red Sox, well, you can probably guess: "I understand Boston is a winning team, but... I wanted the opportunity to get back to the big leagues."
I did not, however, expect to see Bret Boone in the Nationals' clubhouse this morning -- but there he was, too. Boone, you'll recall, was signed to a non-guaranteed minor-league contract earlier this week and was supposed to remain at the team's accelerated spring training camp at the minor league complex. Instead, Boone said he was promoted to the big league camp by GM Jim Bowden -- apparently, after Bowden witnessed Boone's batting practice session yesterday. Obviously, I'll need to ask Bowden about this at some point, but haven't seen him yet. Here is Boone's take:
"I tried to stay over there [with the minor leaguers], but [Bowden] said, 'You're coming over here,'" Boone said. "He saw what he needed to see, and he made the decision."
So I guess we can stop making the Dmitri Young parallels now. Last year, Young arrived in Viera the same way Boone did this spring -- on a non-guaranteed minor league deal. But while Young needed most of the spring to play himself into shape and be brought into the big league clubhouse, Boone has made the jump in only a few days.
It's still a tough road for Boone, in terms of making this roster. Ronnie Belliard is considered the incumbent starter, and Felipe Lopez is trying to win his way back into the starting lineup. And Boone is already on the record saying he is not interested in playing another position or doing time in the minors.
One more news nugget: Mananger Manny Acta said he does not expect either of his top two catchers, Johnny Estrada and Paul Lo Duca, to be ready to play by the first exhibition game, Feb. 28. Both are coming off surgeries. Neither has had any setbacks, but the Nationals are easing them back into action slowly. The third catcher on the depth chart, Jesus Flores, is expected to arrive in Viera today and report to camp tomorrow, after resolving visa issues in his native Venezuela.
Weather: 70 and mostly cloudy, rising to a high of 87, with scattered thunderstorms this afternoon.
Soundtrack: Marah, "Angels of Destruction."
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