Viera, Fla. – With the Nationals gearing up for their first Grapefruit League game on Saturday against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, the pitchers and hitters took part in the first live batting practice session of the spring.
We didn’t get the Stephen Strasburg vs. Bryce Harper matchup we all wanted to see but Strasburg got his work in throwing to Tyler Moore, Roger Bernadina, Chad Tracy and Chris Snyder.
“I felt good,” Strasburg said. “It felt good to be back out there and everything started to come back as I got deeper into it.”
Strasburg threw mainly fastballs during his 37 pitch session but did manage to mix in a few off-speed pitches and he appeared to have a pretty sharp curve ball.
“Yea, it felt good,” he said. “I hung a couple of first ones and then it really started to come back and I started to get a lot sharper as I went on.”
Some hitters just take passes at pitches during these live batting practice sessions just to try and get their timing down while others will try and get some swings in. Each hitter is different in that way and Strasburg says it doesn’t bother him one way or the other.
“Obviously, they are your teammates too so you want them to feel good about it so obviously, it’s a little different out there in games in that you don’t know what’s coming. Same thing for them, they want to get in there and get a chance to time up some fastballs and get their timing down.”
Tyler Moore was the first player to take some swings off the 15-game winner from a year ago.
“He looked really good,” Moore said. “The ball was coming out of his hand electric, sharp curveball, heavy sink on the sinker and good sink on the change-up so I mean, it’s everything you want out of one of your starters and everything you don’t want to see as the hitter.”
Gio responds to ESPN report
Several weeks ago the Miami New Times reported that Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez was linked to Anthony Bosch, who reportedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
Today, Gonzalez met with reporters outside the dugout at Space Coast Stadium to comment on an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report, which sites two sources as saying Gonzalez never received any banned substances from Bosch or his now closed Biogenesis anti-aging clinic.
Gonzalez didn’t take any questions but did say, “I’m going to be honest with you guys, I haven’t heard anything officially from MLB. I do plan on cooperating with them. I want to get this all done before the season starts. This is all new to me, guys. I do plan on getting ready and looking forward to spring training. I feel confident this is going to come out good.”
The Nationals have not heard anything official from Major League Baseball, according to GM Mike Rizzo.
“We are still waiting on word from them and will hold our comments until we hear something official,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez was happy with the way his bullpen session went on Wednesday.
“I felt great and the velocity is still there,” he said. “You get some good news from the guys coming up to you and telling you how your fastball looks and it looks a little jumpy. But again, it’s coming out there and you are pitching to live hitters and you try and tend to do too much but then again, my job is to control that and keep it composed.”
“I was glad I was able to talk to Cat (pitching coach Steve McCatty) about my pitching mechanics and he doesn’t feel like there is too much to work on. He feels comfortable I will make the adjustment for my next start and feel good.”