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Alberto Gonzalez 'flips' Kiko Calero while the Nationals watch

In the clubhouse here at Champion Field, a group of Nationals gathered in front of a small television set, bags strapped around their shoulders. Before they boarded the bus back to Viera, they wanted to see the how the other Nationals split squad finished. They were playing the Mets, tied 5-5 in the top of the 10th.

Alberto Gonzalez stood at the plate. "C'mon, Gonzo," one of the players said. Calero grooved a pitch, and Gonzalez blasted it to left. He tossed the bat as the players watching on TV, in unison, said 'Oooohh!'

The camera view switched to the ball going over the fence, and the Nationals in Lake Buena Vista, who had just lost 4-0, cheered.

"He flipped him, too!" one player yelled, a reference to Gonzalez bat toss.

The experience of watching their own team on television is rare for baseball players, and it made for a cool scene. Gonzalez, by the way, was batting .375 with an .898 OPS before the game today. He's making a strong push to make the team as a utility player.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 27, 2010; 4:14 PM ET
 
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Comments

That's funny, because I was watching and cheering, too. :-) Thanks for the story. Cool that they waited to watch (unlike some of the Mets faithful it appeared).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Quietly, Solano might be pushing Nieves for his job. Or at least convincing management that they need not look elsewhere for a catcher post-IRod.

Good for Gonzo and Solano!

Posted by: periculum | March 27, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I saw the end of the game on MLBTV. It looked like a routine fly and then just kept going and going. Nice to see a win.
They were up 4-1 before the wholesale substitutions started.
@ dargreg from last post. Congarats on the accomplshment. Please let us know when and where we can read your work.

Posted by: chris88 | March 27, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Repost (and footnote):

With a little over a week left to go in Spring Training, here's how I'd set the pitching staff:

SP: Lannan(L), Marquis(R), Stammen(R), Mock(R); Hernandez(R) gets added to the 25/40-man as the #5. JD Martin(R) gets optioned to SYR, and Olsen(L) either gets cut or optioned to SYR as well.
RP: Batista(R) gets added to the 25/40-man as the long-reliever. Bergmann(R) & Clippard(R) & Walker(R) are the MR corps; Burnett(L) becomes the LH specialist (gulp), and Bruney(R)/Capps(R) are the SU/CL.
Burnett could be replaced by either Slaten or English, should his problems continue, while Storen & Chico are 'in the wings', should Bergmann, Walker or Batista struggle.
Posted by: BinM | March 27, 2010 4:23 PM
--------------
footnote - I have concerns over Burnett's performance to-date. Either something is off physically, or his head just isn't in it. If he has an option left, send him down & keep English.

Posted by: BinM | March 27, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I assume they already know Nieves is not a candidate for starter in 2012, assuming Flores doesn't make it back by then.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 27, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I second the congrats to dargramps. Good to "see" you!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 27, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

BinM:

I actually think you have it nailed right down to the gulp on Burnett. I do think they will keep him but it hasn't been pretty. This group is stronger than last year and we do have the reinforcements in AAA, AA to make moves. I wonder how long Riggleman will wait if things go south?
On another subject, I was pleased with the snap throw from Guzman today, looked like it had decent speed. I realize he wasn't deep in the hole but still a nice play. Not crazy about his bobble up the middle but he recovered to get the force. I am thinking he will start the season and we wil see if Rizzo follows through and puts Desmond in the minors. Can we carry both Gonzalez and Bruntlett?

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 27, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Peric:
If you really look at the depth charts, then 2010 is Rodriguez/Nieves/Flores (when healthy), with Burke/Solano/Maldanado in SYR as backups in case of injury; 2011 could be Rodriguez/Flores, with Solano/Norris as support in SYR. Solano might get a 'cup of coffee' in 2010, but I wouldn't count on him for anything big - He's been a #2CA at each step, his minor-league OBP sucks, and he's a little soft behind the plate.

Posted by: BinM | March 27, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

My guess on the outcomes for Olsen, in order of probability:
1 - 15 Day 15, for 3 - 4 weeks, in Florida (warm) until rehab starts wherever makes sense.
2 - Outright release (save close to $1MM)
3 - Option to Syracuse
4 - 25 man roster

Obviously, his next ST start means everything to him and his career.


Posted by: Sunderland | March 27, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

sjm:
Thanks. As to the question of carrying both Bruntlett & Gonzalez - Yes, the team could, but at a cost, and why?
The Nationals already have Morse (1B-3B) and Harris (2B-3B), who can sub at IF positions; Carrying both AGonz & Bruntlett would cost an OF sub (Bernadina or Maxwell) to be cut from the 40-man roster.

It almost has to be an either/or decision; Either you add Bruntlett's glove (& live with his hitting), or you keep AGonz (and put up with his spotty feilding & streak hitting). I personally think the team will keep Maxwell's glove in the OF over AGonz.

Posted by: BinM | March 27, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland:
Based on this spring, and last years' results, I tend to believe the team will either 1) Option Olsen to SYR, or 2) cut him prior to March 31. I'm personally torn on this one, as I believe the kid could be an inning-eating LH as a #4SP; I just wonder whether he's going to do it here.

Posted by: BinM | March 27, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the analysis BinM and it makes sense to just keep one. I had forgotten that Morse has flexibility as well. Not sure which one to keep but that is not a bad thing. As for Olsen, I really don't want to lose him just because it would bring out "Lerners are cheap" posts again, and I think he has a future. I wonder how his attitude might be if he does not make the trip north? Hopefully he would work hard to get back to 2006/07 type results. I am looking forward to next Saturday and Monday!!
Go Nats

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 28, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

So what are the odds that AG faces Kiko Calero (which I've always felt is an awesomely cool baseball name, btw) at some point during the season and a pitch gets away from Calero? oopsie...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

As in "flip this."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 28, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

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