- The Washington Times - Monday, March 9, 2009

ANATOMY OF A SQUEEZE PLAY

VIERA, Fla.; Right at the end of his pregame meeting with starter John Lannan, pitching coach Randy St. Claire reviewed the sign for a suicide squeeze. Lannan initially didn’t think anything of it, because the odds of the situation presenting itself just aren’t that good.

“We work on it in the [batting] cage, but I went over the signs with Randy before the game,” Lannan said. “That’s the last thing he went over because how do you know you’ll be in a suicide squeeze situation?”

But sure enough, with runners on first and third and one out in the second inning, Lannan got the sign. The at-bat didn’t work out; Lannan had to bunt a low pitch foul just so Ronnie Belliard wouldn’t be thrown out at home, then he tapped one just in front of home plate that left Belliard stuck at third.

The chance to practice the play in a game, however, could pay off down the road.



“That was a perfect situation for him,” manager Manny Acta said. “It’s a play we want to get out there. We want people to know that we’re going to try to do some of those first-and-third type of things.”

NATIONALS 8, METS 3

Lannan was sharp again in four innings of work; he gave up two runs, but both were unearned. Shairon Martis followed with two perfect innings. Neither pitcher has allowed an earned run this spring.

Lastings Milledge, Ryan Zimmerman and Javier Valentin each had two hits for the Nationals, with Valentin hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Carlos Muniz.

— Ben Goessling

TEMPERATURE CHECK

RYAN ZIMMERMAN [UP]

Continued strong spring with 2-for-3 day, including a run and RBI

JAVIER VALENTIN [UP]

Could push Wil Nieves for backup catcher’s job if he keeps hitting

AUSTIN KEARNS [UP]

Went 1-for-2 with a walk in return from blister on his left hand

BY THE NUMBERS

5,594 Fans in attendance Sunday at Space Coast Stadium, the Nationals’ largest crowd of the spring.

MONDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Sunny, 61 degrees.

Viera: Sunny, 81 degrees.

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Monday: vs. Astros in Viera, 7 p.m.

Tuesday: vs. Mets in Viera, 1 p.m.

Wednesday: Off

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