Nats Win, Astronauts Return, Dmitri Speaks
Oay, it's time for an epic rendition of Nats notes; we'll touch on a rocket re-entry, a fielding meltdown at shortstop, a revoked Dmitri Young silence vow, and a few debuts from some bullpen veterans. Maybe, if I remember, I'll even pass along the final score. (I had to buy every asterisk in stock for this one.)
* Final score: Washington 6, Houston 3. Just one more game at HSCS this spring, on Monday.
* Shortstop Cristian Guzman had an absolutely terrible, no-good very bad day in the field, and that's about the kindest critique one can muster. His various attempts to commit defense yielded three errors today, costing the Nats two unearned runs, which is probably 1-1/2 less than woulda occurred if Adam Dunn was playing short. Guzman's first two errors came in the third inning: He dropped a shuffled throw from second base that would have led to a 4-6 putout. Then, he muffed an easy chopper. In the next inning, charging for a fairly routine play, Guzman gloved the ball but rushed unnecessarily, and threw wide of first base, drawing Nick Johnson off the bag.
That's six errors total for Guzman this spring.
"I'm happy with the fact that we were able to mostly pitch around the errors," starter Scott Olsen said. "I've never seen him bobble three balls like that in the three years we've been playing against him, but I was real happy that we were able to limit the damage there and didn't let them blow the game open there real early."
* Olsen had his strongest start of the spring, and though he labored through the first one or two innings, he settled down thereafter. All spring, during some very mediocre patches, Olsen has refused to worry, saying he was only worried about the results and the numbers in the last start or two before the regular season. Well, today he went 5-2/3, allowed four hits and one earned run. He walked one and struck out two. He never developed command of his changeup today -- several were left high in the zone -- but his slider and fastball were sharp.
* Speaking of Olsen, here is his take on what it's like to be a member of a young rotation. (Remember, Olsen has had experience with these deals in Florida.) "Being a part of a young rotation, it's different. Usually most teams try to get that one veteran guy in there, where they think he'll be able to suck up the innings that some of the younger guys might not be able to get through. I mean, I think you're gonna have a lot of ups and downs with young pitchers. I had them. I'm still having them. And I know, like, all the guys down in Florida -- Johnson, Nolasco -- they all had ups and downs. It just kind of comes with the territory of being a young pitcher and making the adjustments. Now it's not to say that young pitchers can't do well, because the rotation we had in 2006, I think the oldest pitcher was probably 25. And that was Dontrelle [Willis]. And everybody else was 24, 23 and younger, and we had a lot of success. So, I don't necessarily think you have to have a veteran presence in the rotation. There just has to be more of a group effort."
* Dmitri Young is back on the 40-man roster. He's also talking.
Q: Do you expect to be on 25-man roster when the team heads north [for Opening Day]?
Oh, most definitely. I set my goals high.
Q: If the team wants you to go to Class AAA Syracuse to start the year, would you be okay with that?
Well, we haven't gotten to that point yet, but I don't feel I need to go down there to get ready. Especially, I'm getting eight, nine at bats over there [on the minor league side]. That's all I need is at bats.
Some of the other conversational highlights... He said he was thankful that Mike Rizzo and Stan Kasten were treating him with the same loyalty that Jim Bowden always showed him. ... He said he has never really tried a pinch-hitting role, but thinks he could do it because "the career that I've had, I can hit -- flat-out hit." ... He called his latest back pain the biggest problem he's had to overcome recently.
* At 3:09 p.m. today, the Discovery space shuttle -- and its seven astronauts -- re-entered the atmosphere, pausing the game with a sonic boom somewhere off in the distance. Julian Tavarez was pitching at the time, and seemed a little miffed at first. Then, the stadium PA announcer explained the commotion. It sounded as if somebody had dropped a big cardboard box of old clothing in your attic. Of course, we were outside. But that's what it sounded like. Anyway, welcome back to earth, astronauts. (They'd been gone almost 13 days.)
* Star of today's game: Alex Cintron. He went 2-for-2 with four RBI, the final three of those coming in the fourth inning, when he hit a double with the bases loaded.
Not exactly the strongest endorsement from Manny Acta after the game, though.
"We haven't made a decision yet on Alex. He's a guy who has been up for a while. He's valuable as a utility infielder. We just continue to evaluate him and see where he fits for us." Asked if he's made a case to be the extra guy on the roster, Acta said, "How many extra guys can we have? It's a numbers game. We just have to wait one more week and see. We have Ronnie [Belliard]; we have Willie [Harris]; we have [Alberto] Gonzalez. So, it's going to be a numbers game."
* Julian Tavarez, 1-1/3 scoreless innings. Joe Beimel, one scoreless inning.
* Daniel Cabrera pitches tomorrow against the Marlins in Jupiter.
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