The Nationals had their first split squad day of the spring, meaning they had to field two separate teams to play in two cities on the same day. They kept their squad of regulars in Viera to play the Braves, and they sent a group of reserves and prospects to Jupiter, Florida to take on the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. The “B” team acquitted themselves quite well against a Cardinals team composed primarily of regulars, and ended up working a 4-4, 10-inning tie. Here now is the good, the bad, and the ugly of that contest.
– In his three appearances this spring, A.J. Cole has showed both the talent and the advanced approach on the mound that convinced Baseball Prospectus to rank him as the 53rd-best prospect in the major leagues. In 2 2/3 innings of work against a lineup that featured many of its regulars and projects as one of the best lineups in baseball, Cole dominated. He retired all eight men he faced, striking out three, including major league regulars John Jay and Jhonny Peralta. In those three appearances spanning 6 2/3 innings, Cole has 7 srikeouts, has walked none, allowed just three hits, and not given up a run.
– Destin Hood, drafted by the Nationals in the second round of the 2008 draft, has the tools to become a major league player, and he put those tools on display today. With the game tied and two on in the top of the eighth inning, Hood launched a home run to straightaway center field, giving the Nationals a 4-1 advantage. Unfortunately, though talented, the 23-year old Hood hasn’t shown the ability to show those talents on a consistent basis — he hit only .227 with 4 home runs at AA Harrisburg last year.
– In the wake of the most recent Doug Fister news, it becomes imperative that the Nationals’ starting pitching depth performs well. One of the pitchers the Nationals hope they can count on in event of emergency, Chris Young, did a fine job today. The 6-10 righty went three innings, giving up two hits and just one run, though he walked three. Young is buried deep on the Nationals’ starting pitching depth chart, but it is still comforting to see him have a strong performance.
– Scott Hairston and Nate McLouth, likely the Nationals’ first bats of the bench continued their rough starts to Spring Training. Both delivered matching 0-3, 2 strikeout performances, struggling against Cardinals’ starter Michael Wacha and a trio of hard-throwing relievers. Hairston is now 1 for 14 on the spring, while McLouth is only slightly better at 1 for 12. But take this with a grain of salt; these at-bats mean little, especially for veterans like Hairston and McLouth.
– Immediately after the Nationals took the lead on the Hood home run in the eighth inning, they gave the ball to righty Daniel Stange, who proceeded to give it right back. Stange, who made three appearances for the Angels last year (3 ER in 1.2 IP), gave up three runs on three hits in the inning, including a game-tying two-run single to second baseman Greg Garcia. Though all three runs were unearned thanks to an error by Mike Fontenot (his second of the game and fifth of the spring), Stange still struggled mightily in the inning.