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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
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Spring Training 2018

Rich Galen

Friday March 16, 2017

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    From West Palm Beach

    Washington Nationals
    Spring Training

  • This is the year two of the Nationals conducting their Spring Training in West Palm Beach. Prior to last year, they were located in Viera, Florida where the most exciting thing you could do was to watch a space shuttle launch, something which has not happened since 2011.

  • The Nats share this facility with the Houston Astros and, lest anyone forget, there is a huge sign down the left field line that reminds everyone that they are the World Champion Houston Astros.

  • I ran into Nats' principal owner Mark Lerner as I was coming into the park today and noted the fact of that sign. Lerner said that the Astros had asked the Nats about it and the Nats thought it would be a good motivator for the Nats players.

    SIDEBAR

    Mark Lerner is recovering from a cancer which necessitated the amputation of his left leg last season. He was walking yesterday with the aid of two canes. "I'm going back home tomorrow," he told me. "The rehab folks gave me four days off to come down and watch some spring training games."

    I told him that in Washington, DC, for good or ill, we have become used to seeing men and women with prosthetic limbs. I also said the way he was handling his situation (like not only walking instead of being in a wheel chair, but walking down a flight of stairs instead of taking an elevator) meant a lot to Washingtonians - whether Nats fans or not.

    END SIDEBAR

  • This is the second of three games for which the Nationals have been kind enough to issue press credentials.

  • Yesterday's game was against the World Champion Houston Astros. The Houstons beat the Washingtons 12-3 but the three runs the Nats scored were in the bottom of the 9th well after the game was a gonner. If it were a regular season game there would have been panic in the Nats dugout.

  • Strange things happen in spring training games. For instance, early in the game an Astro fouled off a pitch that went over the screen, bounced off the railing behind the Astro's dugout causing a scrum of boys to scramble after it. The ball then bounced off the cement of the concourse - boys still in hot pursuit - and directly through the open the ladies restroom door.

  • I could hear the screech of sneakers on "Emergency Stop" all the way up in the press box. I do not know what happened to the ball.

  • ON the field one of the Nats' pitchers, Austin L. Adams (that's how he's listed on the roster - Austin L.) came in to pitch the fifth inning. According to Mid-Atlantic Sports Network beat reporter, Mark Zuckerman, General Manager "Mike Rizzo had been talking Adams up this morning so, of course, he walked the first three men he faced."

  • Adams wasn't done. He walked the fourth batter, too, which resulted in his being taken from the game by manager Dave Martinez. The entire infield walked to the mound, as if to say whatever the Major League equivalent is for what parents and coaches say to a Little Leaguer who just struck out: "good cuts."

  • But when Adams walked down the steps of dugout, nary a seated National looked up to catch his eye.

  • The beat reporter for the Washington Post is Chelsea Janes. According to her bio, she started out covering high school sports in the DC metro area. Her writing style and work habits got her promoted to the Majors.

  • Also during the game an Astro skied a popup to the pitcher's mound. It went about 200 feet high and 60'6" downrange.

  • It seemed like 27 Nationals raced in to catch it, but it fell to the ground for a single.

    SIDEBAR II

    This morning, I asked the official scorer why that assumedly simple popup wasn't scored an error. He told me that it was a question of miscommunication as to who should take it, not that an individual player misplayed it.

    Interesting.

    END SIDEBAR II

  • I covered the Nationals for three years starting in their last year at RFK and the first two at Nats Park. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to cover the team for an on-line outlet but after Opening Day and a a couple of night games, I hung up my laptop.

  • Too many press box dinners for me, too many dinners alone for the Mullings Director of Standards & Practices.

  • I miss the camaraderie of the press box but three days in March is a great way to get back in the game.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to pieces by both Mark Zuckerman and Chelsea Janes.

    The Mullfoto is Bryce Harper swinging the bat.

-- END --

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