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Pregame Miscellanies

Here is your unsolicited recommendation for spring training: Attend a ballgame at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. This is the spring training home of the Tigers, and is, by a wide margin, the best Florida stadium I've visited in the last 1-1/2 months. The seats are dark green, one tier rising up about 25 rows. Every stadium worker has a name like Harold or Beverly, and looks like he/she has been working here for 53 years running. A beautiful hillside rises behind the left field fence, and is dotted with picnickers, couples on blankets, kids horsing around, etc. Every stadium should have a hill like that.

I could go on. The place has the best concessions in the Grapefruit League. You can smell the grilled, smoking meats when you walk in here; a heavy barbecue smoke sifts through the concourse, rising from the flat stovetops. Palm trees stand erect behind the outfield wall, and maybe that's a spring training cliche, but it reminds me that I'm in Florida. The outfield wall has billboards that mention places like the Terrace Hotel and Rodda Construction, perhaps the only two non-chains in Florida. The scoreboard has an analog clock atop it. The only decoration on the field is Detroit's iconic old-style "D," which is all white.

Also, there is a Five Guys about 1.3 miles down the road.

Those are your reasons to come to Joker Marchant Stadium.

Now that we're here...

* Craig Stammen is starting today for the Nats. Some in the Nats front office really like the guy, and there was some internal talk of inviting the right-hander to major league camp this year. Instead, Stammen has been relegated to the minors -- until today's cameo appearance. Stammen, 25, split last year among Class A Potomac (4-2, 2.21 ERA), Class AAA Columbus (1-4, 7.33 ERA), and Class AA Harrisburg (3-1, 1.64 ERA). He was drafted in the 12th round of the 2005 draft, which is one round after the Nats selected John Lannan. The two pitchers are actually close friends.

* Dmitri Young, for that matter, is making something of a cameo here as well. He will not be on the Opening Day roster for the Nats; rather, DY will remain down in Viera for a few more weeks and rehab. After that, he'll go on a rehab assignment with one of Washington's affiliates.

* The Nationals are still uncertain if second baseman Anderson Hernandez will be able to recover from his hamstring injury in time for Opening Day. Hernandez strained his left hamstring in last Wednesday's exhibition game, and yesterday went through some light running and jogging exercises.

"He didn't have any setbacks," Manager Manny Acta said. "Let's put it that way. But we cannot put a timetable just because of yesterday. He was able to do the walking and jogging, but we won't be able to determine the Opening Day stuff."

By Chico Harlan  |  March 31, 2009; 1:01 PM ET
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Next: Fifth Inning: Nats 1, Tigers 1


you're a good sport, Chico, baiting the (sorry) jokers with your talk of food.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 31, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

NB, JayBeee: "Dmitri Young, for that matter, is making something of a cameo here as well. He will not be on the Opening Day roster for the Nats."

The food critic is right. You, once again, are wrong.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 31, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I second NatsNut, and add that you paint a vivid picture of the venue, Chico. You may be tantalizing Tracee with so much Tiger talk, though. Go Stammen! Go NATS!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 31, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I somehow doubt that the food references were intentional baiting. Maybe you guys shouldn't be so hung up on it :P

Posted by: RickFelt | March 31, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Most of us are not hung up on it, Rick.

In other news, just noticed that the Bog has a Nats-related post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 31, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Being that Five Guys originated in Alexandria, Va., I should hope if it has a franchise in Lakeland, that it would certainly look into the possibility of Viera as a future signt. Oh, they're opening one soon not to far from me in SC, near Hilton Head. I can't wait!!

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 31, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Chico, ya had me with;

"You can smell the grilled, smoking meats when you walk in here; a heavy barbecue smoke sifts through the concourse, rising from the flat stovetops"

The only thing you forgot to add was the guy sitting on the concourse strumming on his banjo, belting out show tunes!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 31, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Stammen... 2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 3 K.... struck out Ordonez, Cabrera, and Granders (3-4-5 hitters). Nice.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 31, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Lifer - Chris Carter is the guy who went to Boston from AZ in the Fruto-WMP 3-way, right? I suppose there's a little bit of "what might have been" there, but the question is had we had him (and Willingham) would we have gone after Dunn? That's why I always have a bit of difficulty with cherry-picking the record of any GM (even our former loutish one) - one move made or not made invariably leads to other moves made or not made, and it's not like you could simply say "Gee, we should have just done Fruto for Carter" and expect that we still would have Olsen/Willingham or Dunn or Dukes for that matter.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | March 31, 2009 1:10 PM

I think that what it shows you is that when you are rebuilding (or not), you don't count on being set at any position unless you have ARod or Pujols in your lineup. At the time this went down, the Nats FO was so high on Dimitri Young and Chris Marrero kool-aid that we preferred a guy already on path to a quad-A career. WMP wasn't an unknown quanity then. And I don't see your point about how getting Carter would have stopped Jimbo from making those other trades. We all know that whenever there was an OF (or Red) to be had, he was right there in the front of the line.

I DO agree with you that this is revisionist history on my part, but I simply wanted to point out that Carter was succeeding.

Posted by: dclifer | March 31, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm just grateful that Bowden's not here anymore. Otherwise, we would be welcoming Gary Sheffield into the organization already.

Posted by: erocks33 | March 31, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Stammen - 4K, no hits, through 3 IP. Who is this guy? Tigers have their A lineup in.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 31, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Willingham now in for Dukes in the bottom of the 4th. Please, oh please, don't tell me that Dukes got hurt ...

Posted by: erocks33 | March 31, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Could the guys w/ the food critic comments get a life please? Enough already, try original thoughts.

Great news on Stammen, sounds like AA to AAA was a tough jump for him, hopefully he can figure it out. The more SP the better, it's the hardest thing to find.

Great description of the stadium, really wish I ws there instead of here where for some reason it is routinely 80 degrees in my client's office.

Posted by: Avar | March 31, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"They are not going to trade Milledge. "

That was certainly true of Bowden, nunof, but I don't think even your great powers of prescience can say that's necessarily true of first time GM Mike Rizzo.

Posted by: Section506 | March 31, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Nice update for Anderson Hernandez.
I am looking forward to seeing further update.

Posted by: natsfanintokyo | March 31, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

in-game update in the new post.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 31, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The Phillies' Spring Training complex is better than Detriots, by alot actually. Don't listen to Chico.

Posted by: BillyBeane | March 31, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you Chico. We visited Joker Marchant Stadium on 3/20/09 and loved it! This was our 7th annual Grapefruit League trip and first time in Lakeland. Looking forward to going back.

I have a slideshow of photos from Lakeland on my husband's blog if you want to check them out.

Posted by: baseballphotosbycheryl | March 31, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

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