Notes from the Nationals' workout: Dan Haren, Henry Rodriguez & more

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VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals went through their second day of pitchers and catchers workouts today with the second round of bullpen sessions and another informal position players workout. All position players were required to get into town by Friday and those who haven’t will take their physicals on Saturday.

The first full-squad workout will be Sunday morning.

Here are a few notes from Friday’s workout:

– Dan Haren impressed: The veteran on a staff of young pitchers, Haren had his first session in front of his new coaches on Friday. Manager Davey Johnson said he was one of the most impressive pitchers who threw and he was happy to see how far along he was in his preparation.

“He threw the ball very well,” Johnson said. “I told him ‘Don’t peak too early.’ His stuff was really good, got great command.”

Haren’s control was especially noteworthy. Catcher Jhonatan Solano, catching Haren for the first time, raved about Haren’s ability to command his cutter while still getting a lot of movement on the pitch.

“He was unbelievable,” Solano said. “He’s got excellent control with his pitches. He was working on his cutter and his sinker a lot today and he threw a lot of strikes, down in the zone, and he looked pretty good. (He’s got a lot of movement), especially when he throws the cutter outside for lefties.”

Haren’s delivery seems very compact and quick and it looks like he hides the ball behind his right leg before he delivers it. Solano said the arm action was extremely similar for his cutter and his sinker, which obviously makes it tough on the hitter to figure out what’s coming. 

– Henry Rodriguez has good power from flat ground: Rodriguez, who is still rehabbing from elbow surgery to remove a bone spur and a bone chip, played catch with Ross Ohlendorf during the early part of the team’s workout. Ohlendorf didn’t realize what he was getting into with the flamethrowing Rodriguez, even from flat ground.

“He burned his glove hand off,” Johnson said. “I asked him ‘How’s your glove hand?’ I said ‘Man, why’d you pick him?’ He said it was a bad choice. (Rodriguez) was supposed to have a little tight bicep but he was throwing the heck out of the ball on the flats. He looks awfully good. He was throwing off the flat about 90 miles an hour.”

The Nationals are going to go slow with Rodriguez, though, and Johnson didn’t know when the right-hander might be cleared to throw off a mound. He’s dealt with tightness in his forearm as well as tightness in his bicep as the’s gone through the rehab process. 

Johnson said Rodriguez may be available to pitch “soon after the Grapefruit League starts.”

– Meeting held on rule changes: The Nationals’ coaching staff and several front office members spent the early afternoon in a lengthy meeting with Major League Baseball officials going over rule changes for the coming season. Former manager Tony La Russa was part of the contingent from MLB that spoke to the Nationals’ staff.

Johnson said they discussed a host of things, including expanded replay and new balk rules.

“There were a lot of them,” Johnson said. “They’re gonna try to expand the video, which I’m kind of old fashioned. I like them guys to mess up and me to correct them. My only complaint was that if a guy’s out of position I like to see him get help and not have to go to the video. Of course they made the rule change you can’t fake to third and then go (to first), that’s a balk. And they clarified if you’re on the rubber and you drop the ball, even if you re-catch it before it hits the ground, it’s still a balk.”

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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