The last time Garrett Mock toed the rubber at Nationals Park, the temperature reached 96 degrees, the heat index topped out at 103, and the rookie right-hander paid the price for it.
Mock, making his major league debut June 8 against the San Francisco Giants, cruised along for four innings before the effects of the heat wave caused him to wilt in the fifth.
The 25-year-old right-hander, then, likely takes solace in the 81-degree game-time temperature forecasted for his return to the mound Saturday night.
And as long as Mock does everything else in the same manner as he did last time out, the Washington Nationals will be content.
“I think he’s going to be helped by the weather, first of all,” manager Manny Acta said. “That day was extremely hot. He hit a wall like in the fourth inning. And the nervousness that he had the first outing in the big leagues, that’s behind him. Hopefully he can go out there and relax and stretch himself out a little bit.”
Mock, who wound up allowing four runs and seven hits over 4 1/3innings in his debut, was optioned back to Class AAA Columbus. But after another solid start for the Clippers last weekend - three runs allowed over 7 2/3 innings - the Nationals recalled him to take the spot held by injured veteran Odalis Perez.
To make room for Mock on the roster, the Nationals outrighted outfielder Ryan Langerhans to Columbus following Friday night’s game. Langerhans had been a valuable pinch runner and late-inning defensive replacement for Washington but was hitting only .200 (6-for-30) with no extra-base hits since joining the roster on May 23.
White in town
Devon White, the Nationals’ roving minor league outfield instructor, is with the team this weekend for the first time, imparting both his expertise on defense as well as sharing his experiences as a player to the entire roster.
White, a three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner during a 17-year career, is in his first season as a coach at any level. He has worked with all of the Nationals’ minor league outfielders across the system but is seeing the big league club for the first time in person.
Lastings Milledge, playing center field on an everyday basis for the first time in his major league career, was impressed Friday with some defensive tips White had for him.
“He can teach me a couple tricks here and there to get better jumps and read hitters and determine what the hitter is going to do by their body language,” Milledge said. “It’s kind of neat.”
White also said he was brought in to offer some motivation to Washington’s struggling players.
“If you haven’t struggled, you haven’t played the game,” White said. “We’re telling you as veteran players that played the game that you’re going to go through those things, but you’ve got to fight to get out of it. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, I’ll get out of it.’ You’ve got to fight to get out of it.”