VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals and New York Mets played to a 4-4 tie Thursday night, and while spring training ties aren’t all that rare (it was the Nationals’ second tie in six games), what Ryan Mattheus did was, somewhat.
Mattheus, one of the Nationals’ relievers who can go multi-innings but rarely pitches two full ones, was asked to pitch the ninth and the 10th innings on Thursday. Mattheus pitched more than an inning 15 times in 2012, but only twice did he pitch two full frames.
He had no issue with it on Thursday.
“The pitch count was down so it made sense,” Mattheus said. “It wasn’t a very high-stress inning so I was happy to go back out. I told (manager Davey Johnson) I could’ve went another one.”
Often times in the spring it is not just the additional pitches that pitchers try to gradually build up but also the up-and-downs between innings that can be taxing. Mattheus was happy to get his first one out of the way.
“The up-and-down is something that I’m not used to so to get that in early in camp is good, almost just for peace of mind, to know I can do it,” he said. “If it happens in April and I hadn’t done it in camp, it’d be like, ‘Woah, I don’t know what to expect,’ but to get it out of the way early in camp is good, I don’t really want to make a habit out of it though, especially in February.”
After the handling heaviest workload he’s ever had in 2012, Mattheus did not do very much throwing at all in the offseason. He dealt with a little arm soreness early in camp as his body readjusted but now the right-hander said he feels extremely strong.
“I felt really good tonight,” he said. “Tonight was just one of those nights that, you get a few of those during the season, where everything clicks. I hit every spot, I even threw a good slider tonight. It was one of those rare outings that you don’t get very much.
Mattheus has picked up a save already this spring but everyone was unsure what to call the stat where a pitcher tosses two scoreless innings to finish a game but the result isn’t a win or a loss.
“I don’t know,” Mattheus joked. “Can I take this to arbitration?”