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Exploring Citi Field And The Pedro Possibility

Cavernous and opulent, with that new carpet smell in the clubhouse and an angular outfield wall that bends like the northern border of Kentucky, New York's Citi Field offered its latest visitors -- the Washington Nationals -- plenty to explore and appraise when they arrived here for the first time. So before today's game, the Nationals checked everything out. After all, they'll play here nine times this year, as much as any stadium but Nationals Park.

When the Nationals took early batting practice, third base coach Pat Listach walked the outfield perimeter, studying the angles. Citi Field, unlike Shea Stadium, is rich with nooks and crannies. And it's huge. A 16-foot fence guards center field, 408 feet away. The stadium measures 415 to right-center.

"It plays big out there," Listach said.

"I looked at that [415 sign] and was like, OK, I like that," pitcher Jason Bergmann said.


For ballplayers, there's something exciting about walking into a new stadium. It's a feeling those in the sport are getting less and less, as the wave of new stadium construction hits a lull. (The Marlins are the lone NL team in the process of creating a new ballpark.)

Officially, Citi Field seats 42,000, just 112 more than Nationals Park. But it gives the feel of something much bigger. The three decks behind home plate go up almost vertically, creating something of a cave feel. The three tiers wrap all the way around left field, and when the seats end all the way out there (about, oh, 950 feet away from home plate), you see an out-of-town scoreboard and some billboards stuffed atop it. There can't be a higher left field tower in baseball.

When coach Randy Knorr walked out into the visiting dugout, he said, "How many does this hold? 200,000?"

Up here on the 300-level, you see all the millions put to use. Right behind the press box is something called the Caesars Club, a frosted-glass area that has the look of some Manhattan nightclub where martinis cost $14. (It's already been booked for bar mitzvahs.) They have a full bar with Brooklyn Lager and Heineken on tap. They sell specialty sandwiches and pizza. (And penne alla vodka.) I'm not sure about the attendance tonight, but if the crowd matches the number of flat-screen TVs, we'll probably have a sell-out.

*

There's been some back-and-forth with the reports on this, so it's worth noting that Acting General Manager Mike Rizzo said today that his team does in fact have some interest in current free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez, who might be willing to sign with a team within the next few weeks -- provided a team meets his price. He is said to be seeking up to $5 million.

"Early on we had mild interest," Rizzo said, "and I would say it's probably still at a mild interest. If the price were right we'd consider it, just to give us a little more depth. Now I feel good about our rotation; they're young, but I think the upside of the staff is really good. But Pedro would have a good stabilizing effect just because of his experience level and his willingness to be a teacher and a mentor to the young guys. This guy is a Hall of Fame pitcher who knows how to prepare himself and get ready for games, and that's how I would describe our interest level."

*

Marginalia: In five games with Class AAA Syracuse, Lastings Milledge is 2-for-17 (.118). ... Last time Scott Olsen pitched in New York was on Sept. 28, 2008 -- the last game at Shea, and a must-win for the Mets, who were on the playoff bubble. Olsen told me that pitching that game -- with "55,000 people there screaming their New York heads off" -- was the best experience of his big league career. Olsen pitched well: six innings, three hits, two runs, and he left with the game tied at 2. In the eighth, Florida scored two to take the lead for good, "and it got deathly silent," Olsen recalled, "and it was hilarious."

*

On Monday, Dunbar High School's baseball team will hold a practice at Nationals Park, part of a team initiative in which all DC public high schools have been invited to experience a two-hour batting practice session at the stadium. You can read more about the initiative here.

By Chico Harlan  |  April 24, 2009; 6:34 PM ET
 
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Next: Final Score From Citi Field: Mets 4, Nats 3

Comments

balls in, coming down!

Posted by: CEvansJr | April 24, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Reyes to 3rd.

Posted by: 6thandD | April 24, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Death by strikeout tonight.

Posted by: BGinVA | April 24, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Olsen has done a good job getting out of trouble.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Respect the arm.

Posted by: BinM | April 24, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Elijah Milledge

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

tough split second decision for elijah on that liner, i like the way scott olsen is pitching tonight, even with all the hits

Posted by: destewar | April 24, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Santana is on a mission tonight.
Both him and his battery mate Ramon Castro are former Astros.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Despite the run, that was a nice heads-up play to get the 3rd out (thanks to Santana for that gaffe)

Posted by: HotNats | April 24, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, a little behind on this. I walked out of the room, how did J. Santana get on base in the fourth?

Posted by: janus4444 | April 24, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Next inning is key for the Nats... Santana looks like he is tiring slightly, we have the heart of lineup due up and this is when he will be most vulnerable. Olsen has to hold them in the bottom and we need a rally next inning. Big time.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | April 24, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Not sure janus (did the same thing to get a fine Sam Adams, came back just in time to see the out at 2nd)

Posted by: HotNats | April 24, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah exactly. Excited to see the out at 2nd, but surprised to see him on base.

Posted by: janus4444 | April 24, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I like your thinking, IJLM.

Posted by: HotNats | April 24, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Janus, looks like (according to gameday) Santana sacrfice-bunted, reached on a fielding error by Olsen.

Posted by: HotNats | April 24, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Errr sacrifice-bunted...
(Derned Sam Adams)

Posted by: HotNats | April 24, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Ahhh... Thank you very much HotNats. Worthless Gamecast from ESPN just has a blank spot. Nothing there... It's as if Santana just appeared on 1st.

Posted by: janus4444 | April 24, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Way to do it NJ!

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | April 24, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Under system news: The Syracuse Chiefs break above the .500 mark once again, with a 4-0 win over Buffalo(TOR). Craig Stammen gains his second win of the year, with a 7IP-3H-0BB-4K performance. Also of note on the mound, "every-day" Colome makes his 1st appearance of the year with a scoreless 9th inning & two strikeouts.

As far as hitters go, Willie Harris (on a rehab assignment) starts in CF & goes 2-4, with a double & an RBI. Milledge starts in LF again, and goes 3-4 (raising his BA to .238) with a RS, but gets picked off of first early in the game.

Posted by: BinM | April 24, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

i went to official site and baseball america to see if i could get stats on number of sac bunts by team but couldn't find it. anyone know where else to look?

way to go Nick!!!

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or is FotF getting more walks this year?

Posted by: swang30 | April 24, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I smell a rally, knock on wood with Dukes at bat.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Castro drops the foul pop behind the plate.
Is it a sign?

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Castro! For shame! That's Natinals-like defense.

Posted by: janus4444 | April 24, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Cheeks, do you get any more drunk on a $14 Martini than you do on the rot-gut stuff?
Just asking...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 24, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Golden sombrero for Elijah.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut- For sac hits (bunts)
Mets: 10
Nats: 9


ESPN has it:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/stats/aggregate?sort=sacHits&split=0&group=8&season=2009&seasonType=2&statType=batting&type=exp1

Posted by: janus4444 | April 24, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Dukes is struggling tonight... when he isn't hitting our lineup becomes a lot less viable. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a hit once Johan is done though, even though the Mets bullpen has been tough so far.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | April 24, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Sigh, man on 1st and 2nd, no outs. None scored. Have we seen this before? It reminds me of something...

Posted by: swang30 | April 24, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

More RISP - AAAAA-RRRRRRR-GGGGGGG-HHHHHH!

Posted by: BinM | April 24, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Who was saying earlier today that Kearns defense was so good?

Flop dive for a triple to Tatis. Not good.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 24, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Guys, this isn't your average pitcher out there for the Mets.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Olsen has pitched a whale of a game tonight.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

2nd post on Kearns. Are you kidding me????

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 24, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

thanks janus. didn't realize SH was for sac hits, which actually means sac bunts. go figure.

say what you want, it's not like kearns to miss those.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Austin Kearns is worthless. Worth-less.
And, Carp, he ain't gonna win the Gold Glove Award this year either. Again.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 24, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

btw, nice post Cheeks. Descriptive visuals, a little humor. Good stuff.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I like Olson. He is a competitor.

I Like Dibble.....some...He is not afread to call out people and he just called out Acta for not taking infield before the game.....Team had a day off the day before, they took the field in a new park after a day off without doing a full infield practice. Acta is the worst manager in baseball.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 24, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

The infield hasn't hurt the Nats, it's the outfield.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Infield is just a term.....It is a full defense practice.....balls to the OUTFIELD is just as much a part of the practice. Coach hits balls to all areas of the OUTFIELD and simulates that stuff they are missing.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 24, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

And you watched the pregame drills?
Dibble probably watched 5 minutes before hitting the media buffet.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

patchss:

It's the defense overall - you can't single out outfield vs. infield.

Posted by: BinM | April 24, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

"I Like Dibble.....some...He is not afread to call out people and he just called out Acta for not taking infield before the game.....Team had a day off the day before, they took the field in a new park after a day off without doing a full infield practice. Acta is the worst manager in baseball."

Could not agree more. How do you not make your in/outfielders practice at a brand new field that they have NEVER played in before? Inexcusable.

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 24, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

patchss:

It's the defense overall - you can't single out outfield vs. infield.

Posted by: BinM | April 24, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, Kearns made a nice catch there, maybe saving Bergmann a return trip to Syracuse.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Bergmann walks 3. Kearns could have made the catch, done a triple somersault and stuck the landing and it wouldn't save Bergy from Syracuse.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little pissed at Bergmann. I've been running my mouth all over town about how he was all 0.00 ERA in spring training, got robbed just because he had options, Nats' blown saves and leads serves 'em all right for sending Bergmann down, blah, blah, blah. Then he comes up and and walks all over that field. hmph.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

"Bergmann walks 3. Kearns could have made the catch, done a triple somersault and stuck the landing and it wouldn't save Bergy from Syracuse."

LOL

Posted by: skippy1999 | April 24, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Pedro would have a stabilizing effect?????

Posted by: paulkp | April 24, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Pedro should be the closer.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

at least the caps won.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Bergmann and Wells may be in Syracuse by 7 a.m. tomorrow.
Plenty of flights out of LaGuardia leave at 6 a.m.

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Jesus!

Posted by: patchss | April 24, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

JESUS!!!!

(now if we could have not walked in a run..)

Posted by: curz | April 24, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

The game-losing run walked in for the second consecutive game. Oy!

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 24, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Looks like giving up a bases-loaded walk cost us AGAIN. Aarghh... This is SO frustrating...

Posted by: BGinVA | April 24, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Acta Walked a right handed hitter to load the bases and get to a left handed hitter and left in the righty who walked in the winning run....BOZ IS THIS WHAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT ACTA OR IS IT TIME YOU WATCHED A FEW GAMES MANAGED BY ACTA BEFORE YOU SPEAK....just like Jimbo, Boz you will come around....better late than never I guess.

Posted by: JayBeee | April 24, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

This is the worst 15-game start for a Washington team since the '62 Senators dropped 13 straight after winning the first two games of the season. When will it end?

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 24, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Even if we hadn't walked in the eventual winning run, Saul Rivera had been warming up, so he probably would've come in in the bottom of 9th and given the Mets the walk-off win. I think it's time to shake up the bullpen again. Hanrahan and Rivera were two of the biggest culprits, and they're still there! Now that Santana is behind us, let's tee off on the rest of their sub-average starting rotation this weekend and take two of three!

Posted by: BGinVA | April 24, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

These owners are richer and a lot smarter than Dan Snyder. Come April 30th they will look at the Nats record against their own division and ...

I think many heads will roll before May comes around. Acta is in deep, deep, deep trouble at this point.

Posted by: periculum | April 24, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

They need to draft and sign Strasberg and sign Pedro Martinez to stabilize the pitching staff.

Posted by: periculum | April 24, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I had this one penciled in for a loss anyway. I have the other two games going to the NATS. Still nice to see Olsen have a good outing. Going back to last year, 15 straight road game losses. It will end tomorrow.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 24, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Post of the Day/Night candidate:

Bergmann walks 3. Kearns could have made the catch, done a triple somersault and stuck the landing and it wouldn't save Bergy from Syracuse.

Posted by: NatsNut | April 24, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Our starters are really stepping up. Bullpen, not so much. Hope to see the bats pick up against the lesser Mets starters tomorrow. For today, Nick the Stick gets Santana to give up his first dinger of the year and Jesus gets one off F-Rod.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 24, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Olsen pitched well and gave a good post-game interview. I was impressed overall.

Olsen was not helped by his outfield. The bad break on the liner to Dukes and then 2 bad plays by Kearns who some think is a defensive star.


Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 24, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

And that's our -good- defensive outfield, lord help us. I'll give Dukes a pass for lack of experience, but Kearns really needed to stop that ball instead of diving for it; he knows better than that.

I hate, hate, hate, the walk to load the bases, unless you've got an extremely weak hitter on deck.

And Bergmann's gloating about 415 to the fence, and he's still afraid to pitch to contract?

Arrrrgggggghhhhh.

Oh well. 2 out 3 from NY will have to do.

Posted by: joebleux | April 24, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

The defensive star of the outfield tonight was ADAM DUNN!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 24, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

kearns and dukes are two of jimbow's "tools guys." unfortunately, the defense tool seems to be lacking.

Posted by: surly_w | April 24, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Dibble was hedging on the topic of whether the Nats took infield today or not. Says he got there at 4:00 and didn't see it, but that doesn't mean they didn't do it. Didn't stop him from crucifying the team for not taking infield, though.

Perhaps some beat writer who's up in New York could get to the bottom of this. It's probably more important than figuring out what happened with those missing Os last week.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 24, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Nunof1: Go back and check out Chico's first post from CitiField. He talks about the $14 martinis and the vodka penne available in the club restaurants. Remember, this guy is a food critic first, baseball writer second.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 24, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Our situational hitting is horrendous as bad as last year when Lenny("i play cards) Harris was the hitting coach. Manny Acta does nothing to inspire confidence in the players or the fan base, two more errors tonite and i don't want to hear any excuses in defense of Manny. There should be infield drills on every day off until they get it right i wouldn't give a tinkers damn if the players liked it or not, for what they're getting paid they had better show up.The NL East is the toughest division in baseball sans the AL East and last i looked we ain't scaring nobody, so we need to win with pitching and defense along with smart baseball that means no bothched rundown's,making the first or last out in an inning via a boneheaded steal attempt gets you a nice fat fine, Outfielders need to keep sinking line drives in front of them, Dukes and Kearns turned what should have been singles into triples you can't do that, especially against a pitcher like Santana. Manny Acta needs to be replaced the sooner the better he's too laid back players don't respect him it shows in the lack of focus in the field and at the plate,nothing personal just business and while the Lerners are at it i would hire Frank Robinson as head of baseball operations and show Stan the Plan the door.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 24, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Even if Chico didn't witness the Nats take infield, he could still ask Acta the question. Isn't that what a reporter is supposed to do?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 24, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh, nunof1, you are so old school. This guy is in New York to scout out culinary schools in Manhattan, not cover a lousy baesball game in Queens. I'm surprised he even attends Acta's pressers. I said Manny would get axed by May 1. That plan is right on track. Tim Foli, can you catch that early USAir flight out of SYR?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 24, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

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