VIERA, Fla. — Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez stepped into their respective places as hitter and pitcher Wednesday morning during live batting practice and flashed back eight years.
They’d been here before, the setting was just different. In high school, when Gonzalez’s Monsignor Pace team would face Desmond’s Sarasota High School group, the two talented players would go at it.
“He’s got no chance against me,” Desmond said, somewhat jokingly, Wednesday afternoon.
When the two would face off in high school Desmond usually got the better of the matchup. Two hits, he said, and Gonzalez doesn’t seem to hide the fact that he didn’t enjoy facing Desmond.
Desmond also seemed to take a little extra pleasure in picking up what looked to be a broken bat single as well another hit in his limited hacks Wednesday. The hits he had in high school were harder than the live BP swings, he said, but other than that there wasn’t much difference from the days they played on schoolyard backfields.
“He’s the same,” Desmond said. “He’s still just a big kid. He hasn’t changed one bit. He’s just the same exact person. Smiling and joking around, the same guy… I don’t remember him being any different than what he is right now. He had the curveball, he had a fastball with a little bit of life. That’s how I remember him.
“When I faced him today it was just how I remembered him.”
– The Nationals held their workout inside Space Coast Stadium on Wednesday, the first time they’ve done so this spring. But with the first spring game now just two days away, Nationals manager Davey Johnson wanted the team to relocate in preparation.
“This is kind of our home field,” Johnson said. “That automatically elevates the energy level. I want them to get comfortable over here. I know I’m more comfortable over here and it’s closer to starting the Grapefruit League. I’m anxious for Friday to get here.”
The Nationals will play Georgetown University on Friday before opening the Grapefruit League slate on Saturday.
– Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper deleted his twitter account Tuesday night, causing something of an uproar among fans. Harper’s twitter account had been a lightning-rod for the top prospect as he opined on many topics, some of which got him in hot water. But he said Wednesday the he was “just over it,” and decided it was time to close things down.
Harper’s behavior on and off the field is being watched closely by Nationals officials this spring and thus far he’s done nothing but impress in both arenas.
Johnson joked that as the team went through media training a few days ago and were warned about the dangers of twitter and Facebook that he pointed to a few players and said “You listen to this.” He declined at the time to mention who he may have made those comments to.
When informed that Harper had deleted his account Johnson didn’t appear all too surprised.
“I think from the media day that we had and from some comments from teammates, that was the result,” Johnson said.