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A quick post-bullpen chat with Steve McCatty

Scott Olsen might just be the fulcrum of Washington's rotation, for better or worse. If he's healthy, the Nats have three established starters (counting John Lannan and Jason Marquis) in their rotation. If he isn't, the Nats have three big spots to fill. Right now, Olsen says he's about 80-percent recovered from left shoulder surgery, but he expects to be 100-percent by Opening Day.

Pitching coach Steve McCatty shared his thoughts about Olsen and others following the Nats' bullpen sessions today.

Q: What did you see from Scott Olsen?

McCatty: He started loosening up pretty good. First time, so he wanted to throw well. I got here a couple days early so I had seen him throw a bullpen [earlier]. I thought he threw the ball well.

Q: Are there certain guideposts you look for with him in terms of seeing if his arm is back?

McCatty: I'm not looking for anything today other than just talking to guys and seeing how they feel. If he's sound that way -- and he's been really honest; you have to be, and if you feel stiff or anything let us know -- but he said, 'No, I felt fine.'

Q: I remember earlier in the week he was throwing at maybe 80-percent. Has it progressed beyond that?

McCatty: You know, it's so hard for me to judge. You go home all winter, come back, and everybody looks like they're throwing 98 mph. But it's really hard to tell what's 100-percent, what's 50-percent. But he looked great. I'm real happy with what I've seen so far. It's an awful big piece if he feels good and throws like he's capable of. That's gonna be a big plus.

Q: Is there with him a certain point in camp where you need to see the velocity there?

McCatty: Well, I'm just concerned right now with how he feels. He feels good. I know he went last year through some mechanical issues that he was working on in Florida and then he got away from it, and when I first saw him throw I saw the things he was trying to work on -- getting the length in his arm and the extension. I picked that up when I first walked in. So that looks good. He's getting his arm up free and easy and he really looks good. How he feels tomorrow -- he's off tomorrow; throws a bullpen Wednesday -- we'll see. But I expect [that he'll be okay].

Q: How about Storen?

McCatty: Great. [Laughs, as if to indicate an understatement] I said, 'OK, you've got eight minutes here. I don't want you to set a record for pitches.' I said, just pace yourself here. But no, he's got an outstanding arm. I saw him throw when he came in before the draft so I had a chance to look at him and saw him today. Looking at those two guys the last couple days is pretty impressive. I mean it's unbelievable.

Q: You're talking about Tyler Walker, I take it? [Sarcasm.]

McCatty: I'm talking about the big beast.

Q: Why do you think so far Storen has had that great control?

McCatty: He's just one of those guys. He's got the mechanics, he gets the leverage, he gets the angles. He's not a real tall guy, but he's able to keep that delivery all the time. Sometimes you end up throwing too many strikes and you end up having to move the ball off a little bit, but he's just able to repeat his delivery over and over and over. That's the key for all the guys. You do that, and you also check in at 96 mph out there, you say, 'Here it is. Go ahead and try to hit it.'

Q: What do you see from Shairon Martis? Because he was in the rotation at the beginning of last year and now doesn't seem to get talked about as much.

McCatty: Yeah, well I love him... Everybody you're talking about, looking at those guys [for the last rotation spots], but I love him. He's got great stuff. His arm dropped a bit and started nibbling last year, started walking some people and got in trouble. But I like him. If he gets in the right arm slot where he should be, he's got a devastating change-up with that fastball, he should be fine. But if there hasn't been a lot of talking, maybe you just haven't asked the right questions. Because everybody still feels good about him... Inside, his name always comes up. He's what, 22 or 23 years old? He's got a great future. He really does.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 22, 2010; 1:16 PM ET
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Next: Every day you see something new


I love McCatty, but to him tell it, the Nats staff looks like this: Three Koufaxes, Two Carltons, Four Pettittes, Six Riveras in the bullpen and 17 up-and-coming Lincecums just pushing the vets for spots.

Now, we interrupt this spring training report for a dose of realism:


Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | February 22, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"You go home all winter, come back, and everybody looks like they're throwing 98 mph. But it's really hard to tell what's 100-percent, what's 50-percent."

I've seen the other teams use some kind of machine to measure pitch speed. Maybe we could do something like that, too.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | February 22, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure they want these guys (especially the guys coming off of injuries) to go out there on the first day and try to light up the radar gun. The first couple of bullpen sessions are probably just to make sure the mechanics are in place, shake off the winter rust, and make sure everybody "feels good," as McCatty said.

We gotta make sure we don't have any more Detwiler's in here.

Posted by: SpashCity | February 22, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Sunshine, try this realism:

0 and 0

What do you expect McCatty to go, say "boy these guys look horrid, we are in for another long year"?

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 22, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Umm, that's what they said last year. Something to the effect of "boy, we've got question marks in our bullpen." So yes, they're willing to say that.

Now, whether they're willing to say that at the beginning of ST, that's a bit much...

Posted by: swang30 | February 22, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Worried about Olsen...ticked about Detwiler...

Posted by: tgerbracht | February 22, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

With Olsen you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop... or he's like Patterson and never regains his speed. You almost keep waiting for the post that has him headed to see Dr. Andrews.

Wang, on the other hand, an argument can be made that his shoulder issue started when his delivery changed because of leg problems, and if heathy and repaired correctly he (might) be able to get back to where he was.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 22, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

SCNatsFan, Olsen and Wang are both coming back from surgery. Why do you think Wang's will be successful but Olsen's will not?

Posted by: nunof1 | February 22, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

nun, because I think Wang's problems occured because he changed his mechanics due to his leg injury, and if the leg injury is healed he can hopefully return to the same motion he threw pain free with for years.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | February 22, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Q: You're talking about Tyler Walker, I take it? [Sarcasm.]

Really Chico? That's just mean. The guy is THERE.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 22, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Chico Harlan - can you zero in on Matt Chico and how he's doing? If he feels strong that would be a huge lift.

Posted by: dand187 | February 22, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

"You're talking about Tyler Walker, I take it? [Sarcasm.]"

That's really nice, Harlan. Have you ever picked up a baseball in your life? I keep waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of your being replaced so you can go write about crepes and other such manly things. What's that date again?

You're lucky the TIMES cut its baseball beat writers, or you'd have precious few readers left after smarmy comments like that. For those who'd prefer a choice and haven't heard about it, Mark Zuckerman recently started his own blog devoted solely to the Nationals, and he's down in Viera now. Check it out:

Posted by: windwardman | February 23, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if Tyler Walker feels as offended as you all do.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 23, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Why the shot at Tyler Walker? That seems mean-spirited. The guy is just trying to get a job. That question sounds like you trying to be clever or hip, while just coming across as mean.

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | February 23, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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