VIERA, Fla. — After watching the first group of pitchers throw for the second time this spring, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Thursday that he likes what he’s seeing out of them — especially the ones who really feel they’re competing for jobs. The new additions to the pitching staff, it seems, has upped the competition factor for a lot of the hurlers in camp.
“There’s some adrenaline going because there’s a lot of good arms and that’s just human nature,” Johnson said. “But I don’t see anybody overdoing it. They’re getting their work in and they know, I expressed in my opening remarks (to them) that we’re shooting to peak just before the opener, so I don’t need anybody at prime-time now.
“I think the more the merrier. There’s always that inner-team competition, it’s just natural. If somebody pitches a good ballgame, the other guy doesn’t want to be chopped liver, you know? They all want to stand out. I think the bar’s going to be raised again for that. And I think it’s going to be the same way offensively.”
A few notes from the Nationals’ workout on Thursday where the pitchers started breaking off curveballs for the first time this spring:
– Chien-Ming Wang did not throw Thursday despite it being his originally scheduled day. With Wang’s injury history, Johnson has told him repeatedly this spring to not push himself too far — that he knows best what he needs to do to prepare for the season, so just go ahead and do it.
Last year, Wang found that when he’d take just one day off between bullpen sessions, his shoulder tended to stiffen up. With two days off in between, it made things easier for him.
“Everything’s good,” Wang said. “I’m throwing tomorrow.”
– Wang’s extra rest produced a few questions but Johnson said soon all of the pitchers will be on a similar rotation as they progress to throwing live batting practice in the next few days, once they reach that point.
– Henry Rodriguez made his first appearance in camp on Thursday but he did not throw with his scheduled bullpen group. He was not allowed to participate in the organized workout until he completed his physical. Johnson said he’ll throw on Friday.
– One pitcher who has gone through camp thus far without much fanfare — likely preferably so — is right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. He’s looked good, though, and Johnson said Zimmermann, who’ll throw his second session on Friday, also appears to be warming up to his manager.
“He’s more open to me this year – I’m actually getting a couple sentences [out of him],” Johnson joked of Zimmermann, who is generally a man of few words. “He’s very focused, but he’s in a good frame of mind. Strong as a bull.”
– Nationals minor league prospect Sammy Solis is participating in the team’s accelerated camp but Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said he’ll be taking things slow to start. Solis visited with Nationals’ team doctor Wiemi Douoguih as well as renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum this past winter after he dealt with some left elbow soreness in the Arizona Fall League.
“We’re going to be more careful with him because of the fall league,” Rizzo said. “Obviously after the Arizona Fall League he had a full battery of tests and there was a little bit of difference of opinion in the doctors so we had him rest over the winter, shut him down and see what happens. He’ll probably be (a little behind) if all goes well.”