Photo by Rachel Levitin
Optimism is mood in the Nationals Clubhouse, even after the Opening Day snafu of losing 11-1 and the shenanigans caused by robust Phillies fans.
Bullpen Coach Jim Lett agreed that Opening Day is over, now it’s time to get on with the season.
Shortstop Ian Desmond says he’s not worried about what happened with the Phillies fans outnumbering the hometown NatPack on Opening Day. As a Sarasota, FL native and Tampa Bay Ray fan back in the day, Desmond remembers that Tampa Bay could barely pack the park. That is, until they started winning. “The fans will warm up to us once we start winning,” he said. Why not believe him at this point, it’s true … isn’t it?
It’s not too far fetched to say that the Nats will win a few games this year. Statistically speaking, it’s bound to occur. What will get them there is chemistry. The team’s got it, according to Desmond. “We’ve got great chemistry in the clubhouse. We’ve all got the same goal – to win. The team aspect is really there this year. There are no individuals, it’s a team feel.”
Opening Day starting pitcher John Lannan agrees despite a heartbreaking loss on Monday. Lannan’s spirits as the Nationals ace are still high. “It didn’t go our way. The ball found the holes,” he said. Some of Lannan’s goals as the season continues to progress are improving on last year, lowering his walk count, and going as deep in the game as possible.
Lannan’s not the only one with his spirits still left in tacked. There is something to be said about the Nationals comradery in the clubhouse that Lannan describes as “cohesive”. “There wasn’t too much goofing around before Opening Day,” he said. Tonight that changes, “tonight is the real deal.”
Still not convinced that optimism is running through the Nats veins? Perhaps veteran catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez can convince you otherwise.
He views his role on the team as one of support for the young and upcoming pitchers in an organization that continues to grow each day. “I sit down and talk to them [the younger pitchers on the roster]. I share my experiences that I’ve had in baseball. I’ve learned a lot in 20 years.”
Rodriguez’s goal with the Nationals is simple, he said. “Stay healthy, bring my piece to the club, communicate to my teammates, and share my experiences. 24 guys is better than 1.”
The Nationals take on the Phillies for game two of a three game series aka an Opening Day Rematch with Jason Marquis making his regular season pitching debut for the Nationals and Cole Hamels pitching for the Philles.
Game starts at 7:05. Tickets are still available.