Nats trying hard to get another veteran starter
The Nationals are trying hard to find that extra veteran starter. In fact, they made contract offers to right-handers Chan Ho Park and Braden Looper, but both players turned them down, according to a baseball source.
The Nationals did not confirm that they made offers to Park and Looper.
Park ended up agreeing to a one year, $1.2 million contract with the Yankees. The source said Washington made a similar offer to Park. Looper, on the other hand, told the Nationals on Sunday night he was going in another direction. It’s not known who he will sign with.
The free-agent pool for pitchers is thin. Right-handers John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez are still available, but the Nationals haven’t heard from those players or their representatives for quite some time.
As of now, Jason Marquis is the only veteran starter in the rotation. Pitchers such as Shawn Estes and Miguel Batista are in camp, but they are on Minor League contract at the moment.
* The Nationals have decided that right-hander Garrett Mock will start against the Astros and right-hander J.D. Martin will get the nod against the Marlins on March 4, which is when the exhibition season starts for Washington. Mock and Martin are battling for the final two spots in the rotation.
Left-hander Scott Olsen had a bullpen session, which lasted about eight minutes and he indicated to pitching coach Steve McCatty that he was 80 percent from where he wants to be.
Olsen missed the entire second half of last season because of shoulder surgery.
“I thought he threw the ball pretty well,” McCatty said. “I told him if he felt stiff or anything to let us know. He said, ‘No, I felt fine.’ He is a big piece. If he feels good and throws what he is capable of, that going to be a big plus.”
It will be interesting to see where infielder Alberto Gonzalez ends up by Opening Day. He most likely will compete with Ian Desmond for a utility spot this spring. The 2009 season was up and down for the right-handed hitting Gonzalez.
After hitting .333 in the first half, Gonzalez slumped badly and went 40-for 180 (.222) with an on-base percentage of .245 after the All-Star break. At times, he looked lost on defense, but manager Jim Riggleman didn’t have any problems with Gonzalez’s glove.
“As a manager, when you look at Alberto Gonzalez, you are thinking defense,” Riggleman said. “Any falling off offensively, I really didn’t have too much feeling about that. I just know that I felt comfortable when I put him out there. I want the ball to be hit his way.
“He got almost 300 at-bats. When you get 300 at-bats, the pitchers kind of figure out how to pitch to you. Now it’s time for him to make the adjustment.”