VIERA, Fla. — If anyone needed a reminder that this is spring training and, well, spring training games just aren’t played the same way as the regular season games, they got it in the 10th inning on Wednesday. Down a run with two men on, Nationals manager Davey Johnson was out of players. So he sent reliever Ryan Perry — who’d blown the Nationals‘1-0 lead in the ninth inning — to the plate to hit for himself.
“I haven’t swung a bat in about seven years,” Perry said later. “It looked like it was about 100 mph coming at me.”
But Johnson figured earlier in the game that the Nationals would have to go to 10 before he’d need the pitcher to hit so he sent infielder Mark DeRosa home.
“I should have known,” Johnson said. “It was a major screw up on my part letting him go home.”
He was consoled by the fact that he probably wouldn’t have been too keen on the idea of DeRosa sitting through the entire game and then being asked to go up cold to hit in the 10th inning, especially with his wrist injury history, but nonetheless, there was Perry with a bat in his hands: two out, two on and a chance to win the game.
“I haven’t seen a pitcher since high school,” Perry said. “I was whiffing in the cages so I was lucky to foul off three.”
Perry eventually struck out and while the reliever was laughing about the experience later, he admitted he put himself in that position anyway but allowing a run in the ninth inning.
“I would have liked to hang a zero in the ninth inning and walk off the field, game over,” he said. “Obviously I don’t want to be put in that position.”
Perry is likely a longshot to make the Nationals out of camp and one of the biggest benefits to the Nationals’ trading for him — outside of the fact that they feel he’s got great stuff — was that he has a minor league option remaining on his contract. Perry’s got high upside and there’s certainly a chance we’ll see him in Washington this season but, for right now, Triple-A appears his first destination.
– Steve Lombardozzi got his first action in the outfield, coming in as a defensive replacement for Jason Michaels on a double switch after starter John Lannan exited following the fourth inning. Lombardozzi, who looks poised to make the Nationals’ bench as a super utility player, has handled second base, shortstop and third base extremely well this spring but the outfield is new for him.
Johnson said Tuesday that he was considering testing him out there and Lombardozzi handled the few chances he had out there fine on Wednesday. On a sacrifice fly by David Rohm in the top of the 10th inning, Lombardozzi appeared to double clutch the ball before throwing it in to the cutoff man but Johnson said that was the correct play, instead of trying to gun the runner out at home.
“He has no play at home,” Johnson said. “I’m just glad he didn’t cut loose and hurt his arm trying to throw somebody out from left.”
– Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 and picking up his second walk in as many games. It took Desmond, the Nationals’ leadoff hitter this year, 36 plate appearances before he picked up his first walk of the spring but if the past few games are any indication, Desmond is continuing to get more comfortable at the plate. Wednesday, Desmond lined out to right field in his first at-bat but then walked, singled to right, doubled to right and then dropped down a bunt single in his fifth plate appearance of the day. Desmond also committed an error in the field.
– Second baseman Danny Espinosa had a bit worse day at the plate, going 0-for-5 with one strikeout. Johnson has raved about Espinosa this spring but the second baseman, who also committed an error, just had a tough day on Wednesday.
– Left-hander Sean Burnett was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday but the reliever was dealing with some back spasms so he did not appear.