Nats Drop Spring Opener 5-3 to Mets
The Nats played their first Spring Training game today and nothing was all that interesting about it other than the fact it happened. Strasburg started, threw two innings, gave up two runs, and looked like he was working on his fastball. Strasburg never appeared to be throwing at max effort and threw a hand full of breaking balls in his 43 pitch outing. That is just fine at this point in the spring. For players like Strasburg, and the rest of the Nats, it is about getting ready for the regular season.
The Nats as a team look like a team already focused on Opening Day. All of these games are a formality. As much as the battle for the last roster spot is discussed it is going to be hard for someone to unseat Henry Rodriguez and his lack of options. Rodriguez can be given an extended look in a mop-up role during the regular season. With the strength of the Nats rotation and bullpen it would take a 15 inning game to force Rodriguez into a meaningful inning.
It isn't impossible for someone else to make the roster, but it is unlikely, and because of that Spring Training is more training than the typical cliches of hope and rebirth for the Nationals. This game happened and guys like Chris Snyder, who had a two run homer, and Erik Davis, who pitched a scoreless inning, looked good, and while those players may matter during the regular season it won't be until it is well underway. This game like all other Nationals Spring Training game happened and the most important thing about it is that no one pulled an oblique.
To be a non-roster invitee in Nats camp has to be like swimming against the tide in the midst of a hurricane. It isn't impossible to make the roster, but it is highly improbable. It was good to watch baseball again and it was nice to finally see Denard Span in a Nationals uniform. The base running, defense, and OBP from the lead-off spot he is going to add to the Nationals line-up is going to be big this season. He ended up going 0-2 but again the most important thing is that he didn't end up pulling a hamstring or anything else.
The most important issue to the Nationals in spring is making it to Opening Day healthy. The roster is set and the Nats are mentally ready to defend their division title. Sometime around mid-March they will be physically ready as well and then these game will become even more of a formality. While nothing interesting or important happened in this game for the Nats that is a good thing. Anything important or interesting is likely to be of the negative variety. The Nats may have lost this game, but the important long term issue is that no one will be going for an MRI this evening.