When We Get Behind Closed Doors
The doors are closed, and Manny Acta is screaming and yelling and calling his players awful names. No, seriously, this is Acta's big full-squad address, and this morning in his daily media briefing he let us in on a little bit of what he expects to say. Specific goals: Reducing the number of team errors from 109 last year (tied for sixth-most in the majors) to below 90. Gaining a better appreciation of on-base percentage. Reducing the number of outs they make on the basepaths.
But the bigger message will be one of attitude: "The message is [about] not being satisfied," Acta said. "Last year is over, and everybody got paid for it.... I play to win. I'm going to try to win the division. That's what I'm here for. It's about attitude. We're not rolling over for anybody. ... My goal is to one day show up here, and you guys ask me, 'What if you don't win?'"
Other items to pass along:
*Jesus Colome is in camp, leaving catcher Jesus Flores as the last remaining impact player yet to report. And Acta said Flores received his work visa, and is expected to arrive in Viera tomorrow.
*Acta said there will be legitimate consideration given to keeping lefty prospect Ross Detwiler in the Nationals' bullpen this winter, rather than sending him down to the minors. "He's going to get his inning" in camp, Acta said. "And at the end of the spring, we'll make the best decision for the club." (For what it's worth, I seriously doubt anything like this occur, and I'd be shocked if Detwiler we're in the majors at the start of the season.)
*I asked Acta if he could foresee a scenario where both Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young make the team, with Johnson the starter and Young in the lineup against tough lefties, but otherwise limited to pinch-hit duty, with the goal of getting him 200-300 at-bats. Acta said such a scenario is not impossible, but he implied it would be much more likely that the team would have to trade one of them.
"It's tough, because they're both eveyrday guys," Acta said. "[But] we're not just going to give a guy away [in a trade]."
Weather (sorry to rub it in -- I'm aware of what's going on up north): Currently 74 and partly cloudy, with a high this afternoon of 85.
Soundtrack: Pernice Brothers, "Discover a Lovelier You."
Svrluga update: Got a text message from the King of Panera at 3:30 a.m., with what appears to be the set list from last night's Drive-By Truckers show, which he attended. I was grateful, though a little disappointed they didn't play "Zip City." Mr. Svrluga will be here on Monday and taking back the keys to this finely tuned machine, while I hit the road and visit some other Grapefruit League camps.
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