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St. Claire Discusses Martis, Zimm

Here's your official No. 4 and No. 5 Starter Discussion with pitching coach Randy St. Claire.

Q: Is it all the more gratifying that you're not just giving out spots by default? These two really earned it.

Oh, without a doubt. They pitched tremendous this spring. They deserved this. Martis made a lot of adjustments and improvements from last year when he came up. He pounded the zone in spring training. He kind of got picky last year when he came up, which is what happens when you're young, not real sure of the hitters. But this spring he was really aggressive, pounding the strike zone. Just doing a tremendous job.

Q: And Zimmermann?

Well, Zimmermann I hadn't really seen before, and he's everything that everybody said. He's one of those guys that, you know, that really carries himself. The focus. The concentration. The confidence in his stuff. He just executes. He doesn't let the situation dictate how he reacts or works. He continues to work at the same pace. He doesn't go harder, he doesn't change. A lot of young guys, in those tougher situations, the game speeds them up.


Q: Did you break the news to him?

Yeah, I told him.

Q: And what was that like?

I just kind of - he didn't show a lot of emotion.

Q: You pulled him aside?

I just said, 'Jordan, C'mon over here.' Took him to the dugout. That was just this morning. I shook his hand and congratulated him on winning the job and, you know, I talked to him about some of the adjustments in his schedule. Because right now he was pitching in the fourth slot. So I have to pitch him on short rest, and we'll pitch him in a simulated game on March 30, and then he goes into the fifth slot. So, he's set up for the [April] 19th. So I'll throw him in a sim game on the 30th, just about 40 pitches, so he's slotted out.

Q: Did you have a message for him, preparing him to take his lumps?

Well, I just said that you're going have rough times throughout the year. Don't change what you're doing. Don't change anything. Because your stuff is good enough. Just don't change anything, and you're fine.

Q: Have you ever seen a rotation this young before?

No. No. In 1991, I was with the Braves. It was Smoltz and Avery and Glavine. But we had Charlie Leibrandt, who was 40 (actually 34) years old. He was kind of a presence. That was a young staff. Pete Smith.

Q: What was the cumulative effect of having those young guys together?

It was good. They were all, for one thing, everybody was really good friends. So it was a great pitching staff, but also tight. Everybody loved the competition. We would play golf and cards, but everybody got along. That was a tremendous team make-up wise. We had some real high-quality make-up guys on that team. And just a few additions put us over the top. Pendleton. Sid Bream. Otis Nixon.

Q: Do you have any concerns with having two 22-year-olds in there?

No, I don't. Because of their make-up.

Q: They are pretty similar?

Yes. Lannan, Martis and Zimmermann all have tremendous make-up. Really, really good make-up. I think they can take their lumps and not let if affect them. I think they are very mature when it comes to that. Yeah, they will take their lumps every once in a while, but everybody does. Good pitchers do. So I'm really not concerned. The biggest concern would be workloads for them. Because Zimmermann threw 130 innings last year. So I can't take him to 200 innings. You know? Lannan, you're pretty comfortable with that 200 mark. He went 180 last year, so 200 would be a good number for him. But if he's at 205, 210, and is having a tremendous year, you get a little nervous. Olsen, he went 200 last year, so he's built up. That is really my biggest concern with those guys. Not how they handle it.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 28, 2009; 2:29 PM ET
 
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Comments

Gonzalez plants deep in the hole and guns it incredibly well to first. As Chico noted, he also charges slow bouncers and throws all in one motion. Our Gold Glove SS of the future.
************************************

Good, because our SS of the present (Guz) has three errors already today (and is 0-3 to boot)!

Posted by: BGinVA | March 28, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I like that "pounding the zone early." Strike one, no worries mate. As Charlotte pointed out, "Sometimes you just need to be pounded. Know what Imean"?

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 28, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

JayBeee drunk? Only because everyone's buying him beers when he's right all the time. Stay sober, nova_g_man. You'll catch him yet!

Posted by: AnAppallingLackOfBaseballKnowledge | March 28, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Does Cheese remind anyone of a young Mussina? He does me.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 28, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"Yes. Lannan, Martis and Zimmermann all have tremendous make-up. Really, really good make-up."

As in character. BobBOlsen lacks it.

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 28, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Dunn's swing appears grooved. Cap has been a stud. Were either of his doubles hit to the opposite field?

Posted by: nova_g_man | March 28, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Jury's out still on Milledge. I'd like to see one year where he's not asked to bat 3rd and carry the load like last year. This should be it. We'll re-evaluate at that point.

The issue about which there is a fundamental misunderstanding though is this. The manager does NOT set the everyday lineup. The GM does with input from the manager. The manager decides what to do in game - bunt, steal, pull pitchers. He decides when to give guys days off. He's mostly responsible for the "team rules". However, having Milledge as the team's startng CF and lead-off batter is much more Bowden's and now Rizzo's call than Acta's.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 28, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Dukes in CF -- and maybe Jaybee would've seen this if he wasn't staring at Milledge all year -- is that he obviously has serious problems keeping his legs healthy.

Why would we risk losing his bat to squeeze out Millege, who actually has potential? Yes, Milledge needs a kick in the buttocks, but he still needs to play more often than not.

Also, the Rays played Dukes in CF two seasons ago, and he was a defensive disaster. Look at the stats and the comments they made about his defense.

There's no reason to think that he'd be a significantly better CFer than Milledge. Best case, maybe he's 10-15 runs better over a season -- assuming his legs stay healthy enough to keep him in the lineup over a full season (which is a big assumption).

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 28, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"The issue about which there is a fundamental misunderstanding though is this. The manager does NOT set the everyday lineup. The GM does with input from the manager."

That's not typically true. The GM might have some input on lineup decisions (especially in showcasing chances), but in most teams, the manager has the final authority with the players the GM gives him.

Now, this might be different with Manny, who's the lowest paid manager in the game, and who never had much input on his coaches. But, that'd be more the exception than the rule.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 28, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Looks like J-Lo, uh, I mean J-Tav, is into the game.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Game day:

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2009_03_28_houmlb_wasmlb_1

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Tavarez should make the pen...right?

Posted by: theredskin | March 28, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Rain delay? Big inning? Game day and box score guys nodding off?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Glad to hear St. Claire will be watching their workloads. The Nats have to sacrifice some of this season for the seasons that will matter in the future.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | March 28, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that they went to watch the Shuttle land. Hopefully they will be back soon.
_______________________________
Rain delay? Big inning? Game day and box score guys nodding off?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 3:10 PM

Posted by: lowcountry | March 28, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

@1a1:

One thing i've noticed about the mlb.com box score feed - it there is a long 1/2 inning, particullary in the middle innings, the feed tends to go into "sleep" mode for a while. Changing refresh rates, manually refreshing, or even re-loading the page doesn't clear the problem.

Posted by: BinM | March 28, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"The issue about which there is a fundamental misunderstanding though is this. The manager does NOT set the everyday lineup. The GM does with input from the manager."

"That's not typically true. The GM might have some input on lineup decisions (especially in showcasing chances), but in most teams, the manager has the final authority with the players the GM gives him."


Uncle Teddy:

I think we are saying the same thing in a slightly different way. The point is that the Bowden and Rizzo have given to Acta Milledge to lead off and play CF. It's not as if Manny can trade Lastings or call up another CF. When the team was being put together Bowden said to Manny, "we'll have Milledge to play CF and bat lead off." To say that it's Manny's decision alone from which he'll probably be fired is not accurate.

Is Milledge a good CF right now? No. Is Milledge a good lead off man right now? No. He's got the best potential of the guys at Manny's disposal though. It's who he has to go with. He really has no choice.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 28, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I hope Nick was taken out to give Willingham a chance to play, and for Dunn to try first, and not for any other reason.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 28, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but if Manny REALLY wanted to play Kearns/Dukes in CF/RF, he's probably free to do that.

It's that Milledge/Dukes (especially if giving Milly a defined role/responsibilities lights that fire under his butt) probably gives the team the best chance of winning short- and long-term. (No matter what JayBee says -- Willie Mays isn't walking through that door!)

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 28, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, lowcountry and BinM. Game day must have the same sleep mode as the box score, BinM.


Let's go, Jesus!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Probably not Willie Mays Hays, either, Uncle T.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Very nice. Every Day got out of the 9th without a run scoring. Nats win.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 28, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Game day sez 9 pitches, 9 strikes for Colome.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Although Dukes did make a basket catch today while playing CF . . .
___________________________
(No matter what JayBee says -- Willie Mays isn't walking through that door!)

Posted by: lowcountry | March 28, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Colome did well although he got hit on the ankle by a hit ball. We'll see how he feels tomorrow. 1a - you knew the game was on the Astro's radio on MLB, right?

Posted by: lowcountry | March 28, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, Uncle Teddy, I have to believe that somewhere there was a directive from above to Manny that said something like this:

"For Milledge to be a star, it's as a CF. He needs to play there to develop. Don't horse around playing him in LF or RF. Also we need to find one spot in the order and leave him there. If he's going to be a star, it's going to be as a #1 or #2. We've got plenty of #2 hitters, how about batting him lead off?"

That's how these decisions are made. It's not Manny in a room with his coaches making decisions and then telling the GM what's going to happen. It would be the only place in America where an underling has more say on important decisions than does his/her boss.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 28, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised so many here are willing to give up on Milledge and keep Kearns in the mix. Like Herm Edwards said "you play to win the game." I think Acta or Rizzo or whoever is making the call is putting the best team on the field.

Posted by: patrick15 | March 28, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but I haven't sprung for the game day audio package, lowcountry.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Todays player of the game via Astros announcers is....Alex Cintron. Perhaps he just earned the 25th spot...perhaps not, we'll see.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

mlb gameday audio is only $14.95, and well worth it.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Tomorrows game vs. the Marlins will also be available on mlb gameday radio with the Marlins broadcast crew on WAXY.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

If I had a configuration that would allow me to listen to the radio while I watched games on MASN during the regular season, I'd be inclined to spring for the package (the local radio signal is really bad here at night). As it is, the tv is in the basement and the desktop upstairs.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

That's upstairs as in the top floor, not the ground floor.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I guess maybe if you got really big speakers :)

Posted by: lowcountry | March 28, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

or a nice wiring job to run downstairs. The only other gameday radiocast that I can find until Charlie and Dave take over permanently will be 4/2 against the Phillies by the Phillies radio bunch.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like nf1a will be spending a lot of time in the basement with Bob and Rob.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I've been tempted to splurge for the TV package but my preference for Charlie and Dave keeps me from doing it.

Posted by: lowcountry | March 28, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey lowcountry, leave it to us South Carolinians to come up with good ideas for nf1a. only in the deep south : )

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I do both the mlbtv via cable and mlb audio by computer, not to mention XM. I'm totaled out. I have to be crazy.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, SC, a couple of big ole speakers blarring from the double-wide is fairly typical around these parts. I'm sure 1a's neighbors would understand.

And yes, I understand the long-distance fanaticism all too well.

Posted by: lowcountry | March 28, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I thought you would.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 28, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The only disadvantage to the GameDay sound with TV picture is that you CANNOT (easily) sync them, being that the audio will be behind (by at least 10 seconds). With the OTA Radio/TV it works great if you have a TiVo (or other DVR) as you can delay the picture by the 6 seconds (though I like having the sound ahead, means I can cook dinner and then clean the kitchen and I'll know when I need to look up at the TV).

HOWEVER. If you go for the MLB package full blown they advertise that you can sync the radio call with the picture (though you are then stuck sitting at your computer to watch the game). But you gotta want it a lot too as it's $110 - ouch.

(I know far too much about this...)

Posted by: OldDude | March 28, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I love Gameday audio and the fact that Nats have thrown it in free of charge for STHs (I have a 20-game plan). I've noticed lately that a lot of games haven't been on XM, like today, where the Houston radio feed was available. It was on Gameday audio, but not on XM. Same thing for tomorrow, when - as cokedispatch mentioned above - the Marlins feed is available, but the game is not among the 13 listed on XM's schedule. Strange...

Posted by: BGinVA | March 28, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

So what's the deal with Hanrahan not pitching yet? Is he hurt? Are they holding a grudge against him for going to the WBC? This is crazy, it's not like you wait for save situations in Spring Training!

Posted by: NoVaNatRat | March 28, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Martis 'pounded the strike zone all spring'

This is music to my ears

Posted by: Brue | March 28, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

>Q: Do you have any concerns with having two 22-year-olds in there?

No, I don't. Because of their make-up.

Yeah it doesn't hurt to have excellent stuff. If it's good enough for the Saint. It's good enough for me. Age is just a number. I'll never forget the great John Wooden preferring talent over experience 'every time'.

Posted by: Brue | March 28, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Better me in the basement than our team. :-D

---

Sounds like nf1a will be spending a lot of time in the basement with Bob and Rob.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Very funny about the big speakers, sc and lowcountry. Maybe I should get in touch with Soriano regarding speaker vendor recommendations. Actually, I suspect that they might not go over with the archi-Nazis, uh, community organization, here in suburbia. I could, however, consult with my techie husband regarding wiring possibilities. hmmm...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

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