Category Archives: Players

Getting to know… G-G-G-Gio

Meet “The Goofball”. Gio Gonzalez may be one of the most entertaining additions to the Nats this season – and he pitches well to boot! Who didn’t he endear himself to with that giant grin after hitting a double? Yet, sometimes his interview responses can be filled with baseball cliches, so I was curious to see his Q&A session in the Stars & Stripes Club Saturday.

Sure, his session was still full of cliches, but delivered in an endearing manner and always giving props to his teammates, both pitchers and position players (they’re all hitters). He also admitted he can never turn down an autograph or hand shake, so chooses to wear headphones with music as his subtle way of letting people know he’s not willing to be distracted at the moment, generally while preparing for a start. Starting pitchers are funny like that – teammates don’t usually talk to them in the dugout between innings during their start and media do not talk to them before the game.

Another tidbit Gio revealed is that he does not want scouting information on hitters he’s facing. If he knows a hitter generally misses one particular spot, he will try to be too perfect hitting that one spot. He prefers to let his catcher, who knows the hitters and their strengths/weaknesses, do the studying and call the best game he can. “If I give up a homerun, it’s on my catcher. It’s not on me.” Ha.

Thanks to a tip from a little birdie, as well as questions from the audience, he broke away from the cliches. Did you know Gio gets his hair cut before every start? That’s a hair cut every 5 days, even on the road. No wonder his hair is so short!

Thanks to doubleuefwhy for manning my Flip cam so I didn’t look like a doofus holding it up while asking a question.

Video (YouTube):

Yin and Yang of Injuries

Jesus Flores

Wilson Ramos

In my day job, if I were to get hit by a truck while scootering to the office, the other person on my team would likely get my “Lead” role by default. Good for him. Bad for me. I’ve been wearing more safety gear lately just in case no matter how hot it is.

In baseball, injuries both break and make careers in an odd yin and yang sort of way. No one wants to cheer an injury with the knowledge the only reason a player is “in the show” is because somebody else got hurt. The mere fact of it guiltily steals a little of the natural joy and elation brought by promotion.

Remember when Jesus Flores was a promising young everyday catcher? He was one of my favorite players and I was crushed when his shoulder injury sidelined him from play. And then sidelined him again. And again. While he underwent surgeries and rehab, another promising young catcher, Wilson Ramos, replaced him by necessity and largely lived up to the duties required of him. He became a beloved player too. As time went on without Flores in the starting role, it became clear Wilson had earned retention of that position. Good for Ramos, not so good for Flores, who became the default backup catcher. I still felt Flores deserved a starting position and while I’d hate to see him go, hoped maybe he’d be traded to a team who would use him in that role after he worked so hard to return.

Yet with the twist of a knee, now Ramos is out and Flores is in the every day role. The injury is crushing for Ramos. Will he return to the starting role next season? Or will the seesaw now stay tipped in Flores’ favor long-term now? Injuries are harbingers of tragedy and triumph, but triumph without elation.

With the rash of injuries so far this season, a groundswell of fans (including me) have been clamoring for Davey to play the kids over bench players on a regular basis. This isn’t to discount the regulars like Werth, but more in response to putting a young guy in as opposed to say, Xavier Nady. Welcome Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore to the show! While it’s exciting to get a chance to see the up and comers play, Werth’s broken wrist was disastrous. Yin. Yang. Then there was the one kid who came up to play backup catcher, but poor Sandy Leon ended up experiencing both the elation of promotion and devastation of injury on the same day. During his MLB debut, Leon sprained his ankle in a collision at the plate.

As Tyler Moore said during blogger day, being one of those kids who is up because of injuries, “It’s been fun but at the same time you hate it for those guys because they work so hard in the offseason and spring trianing. It gets into the depth we have. You hate to see that happen, but at the same time team just keeps going.”

Injuries have been a major part of the game forever, although the Nats seem particularly affected this year (and every other year, but really moreso this year). Yes, the beat goes on and the games much continue. It’s such a shame that the eagerness of seeing a prospect make his debut, not to mention said prospect’s own joy at promotion is tampered by the fact that someone got hurt to afford the opportunity.

Beast Mode Morse Raps

Ah, there are definitely perks to my job and today’s frustrating bit of troubleshooting was greatly brightened when I spotted this video in the queue. I impatiently waited until it was published on the site and snapped up that embed code pronto!

There has been lots of chatter about Michael Morse’s “Beast Mode” shirt this season and much love for his use of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” in about every other at bat. Well, now you get to revel in it with a bit of Morse rapping too. LOVE!

According to the blog post, the clip will air on “Hoppus On Music” at 11 PM tonight on Fuse, which I just learned in channel 716 on my FiOS system. *If* the game ends by 11 at Baseball on the Barn tonight, maybe we can flip over to it!

Davey Johnson is no coddler

Well, Davey Johnson’s postgame interview following last night’s 7-6 loss to the Astros was certainly a departure from the norm we’ve grown accustomed to with previous managers. He didn’t mince words when discussing Jordan Zimmerman’s not-so-great start and wouldn’t even consider the fact Jordan had been hit in the shin with the ball earlier as an excuse. Johnson used phrases such as, “Those things upset me,” and “those kinds of mistakes are hard to stomach”.

I’m torn between liking the brutal honesty and the appearance that Johnson takes these losses personally. On the other hand, part of me cringes at the same time because his facial expressions and tone in the moment after the game made it seem like he was throwing Zimmermann, usually a solid pitcher, under a bus. Instead of using typical phrases like, “sometimes a pitcher doesn’t have a feel for the ball, but Zimmermann’s an outstanding young pitcher and I’m confident he’ll bounce back for his next start,” he used, well, something else.

Do the players need this kind of tough love with high expectations? Or is this something that can cause some resentment in the clubhouse? Who knows….

Video here on masnsports.com | Transcript below

Debbi: Davey, starting with Jordan Zimmermann, I know he’s a tough kid, but that had to have affected his pitching after he was hit…

DJ: Well, I mean, the thing that bothered me the most that whole ballgame is I’m not one over my whole career with good young pitchers, good arms, and I have a couple guys in scoring position, I’ve got a base open – if he gets ahead of the guy, I don’t expect him to make bad pitches. I expect him to hit; the hitters got to hit a pitch off the plate. A nasty pitch. And he hung a slider right down the middle. It was flat and drove in two runs and uh or drove in a run. And then the squeeze – didn’t cover first. Those things upset me. I mean, I thought he battled and maybe he didn’t have his best stuff, but the one thing, when you’ve got two strikes on a hitter, you just basically don’t give them a cookie. There’s a lot of times during the course of the year I have situations in the middle of the lineup where I definitely don’t want to have to give in and give a really good hitter a pitch to hit. But that was the toughest thing tonight that got me the most.

Debbi: Some opportunities that were missed – you know, you look at Jerry Hairston, and that was aggressive getting thrown out at 2nd base and a couple other things.

DJ: Well, you know Jerry swung the bat great all night and you got to try to make it. The ball, unfortunately it came right back to them. It’s going away from us and he makes a perfect throw. I know he’s out and I know if there was any doubt, Jerry would have been out there arguing till the sun went down. I didn’t see it on the replay, but the ball beat him easy, so I figured that he was out. But uh, just breaks. We battled hard, I was proud of the team, we kept battling and right back in the ballgame. That big run we gave up tot he bottom of the order again with Coffey, so I’m just, you know, a lot of things bad happen.

Debbi: Michael Morse though, I mean, he’s just been really rock solid out there. How well is he swinging the bat right now?

DJ: He’s unbelievable. He’s on fire. Everything he hits hard. I don’t think they hit him on purpose in the last inning. You don’t put the tying run on with some guys who can go out of the yard. I think they were trying to pitch him in but you know, it’s just a tough game. I liked the offense. Didn’t like our pitching as much.

Q: Davey, was there something with Jordan that was different tonight that you could pinpoint?

DJ: Well, the one thing he was doing that I hadn’t noticed before is, you know and I guess he gets in the habit sometimes, his elbow was dropping on his breaking ball. The elbow was coming here [gesturing] and it was flat. Didn’t do it all the time, but the one time he really did it was to Barmes with the guys on 2nd, 3rd and two strikes. He just threw a flat slider right down the heart. But he’ll learn. I mean, he’s a young pitcher, got a great future, but those kinds of mistakes are hard to stomach.

Q: Do you mean the at bat with Barmes – the 2nd at bat before the squeeze play?

DJ: Yeah, you know, I mean any other situation with the catcher coming up 7th hitting .250, if he gets ahead of him, you know make a good pitch and get him out. If he doesn’t, walk him and try for the double play. But then you have to give in to the hitter and he needs to learn how to do that.