Washington Nationals' Skipper Jim Riggleman spoke to XM host and Nats/MASN color commentator Rob Dibble and his "Baseball This Morning" cohost Steve Davis on Monday morning, discussing a variety of topics, some of which we've already touched on including Orlando Hudson's chances of signing in DC and Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen's chances of making the Nationals' Opening Day Roster. Elsewhere in the interview, Mr. Riggleman talked about Washington's winter acquisitions:
Q: Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez? What do you expect? Will he mentor catchers or pitchers?
Jim Riggleman: "Well, he'll do both. I think he's taken on that a little bit in the last couple years on clubs that he's been on, whereas in the past that wasn't part of his game, but I think he will mentor some other players. I think he'll give us an air of confidence with our pitchers when they look in and see who's back there, but, you know, he's still a good player, he's not just a senior citizen on the club. This guy can block balls, throws the ball very well, he's an athlete back there and he kind of puts in the mind to the other ballclub that you just can't get on and go. We've got a chance to stop your running game. If our pitcher gives him any chance at all, he can throw people out and he's a good hitter. I only saw Pudge in games that we played against him, but the last couple years that I saw him, I actually commented to him a couple times through the last couple years that he really was swinging into some bad luck? He was hitting a lot of balls right on the barrel, right at people, and that's just the way it goes sometimes. All you can do is try to hit the ball hard in our game and his numbers are not bad, offensively he's still a productive hitter, but he can't continue to hit into that kind of bad luck, cause this guy hit a lot of "at'em" balls..."
Q: Jason Marquis? Marquis or John Lannan? Who's the number one starter?
Jim Riggleman: "Well, I'm not really concerned about that, whichever one pitches our first game as opposed to our second game will probably be determined more by how the next ten days unfold. If one of those guys is more productive against the Phillies as opposed to the Mets, who we play next, and one of them is going to see one of those clubs twice and one of them is only going to see one of those clubs once, we may set it up that way, depending on if it matters as to who pitches first or second when they come back, who they pitch against the next time, but, the more important part is to just, getting to know Jason (Marquis) a little bit this past week, has been great, he's an interesting guy to talk to and to listen to, he's very knowledgable, very mature guy, confident but respectful, just I really enjoyed his conversations, sitting and talking to him at the autograph sessions and the photo sessions, we got a chance to talk a little and he's just a baseball player, as he said, he's a baseball player who pitches, he's not a pitcher only, he loves the game, he's into the game, he's into his team, his teammates, this is, I think, just a great acquisition for us..."
Q: "Has anyone ever surprised you in Spring Training and made the club out of nowhere?"
Jim Riggleman: "I mentioned that yesterday in our panel discussion...sometimes...Almost every club that goes out and has a big year, there's somebody that you weren't even counting on that is a big contributor, and I tell you, one guy who did that years ago was Albert Pujols. I remember being with the Dodgers, we were playing the Cardinals in Spring Training and a couple players who I knew from the Cardinals' organization said, wait til you see this guy and I had never heard the name, didn't know anything about him, nobody knew who he was, but he was bouncing around, played some innings at first, played some left field, and he wasn't supposed to make the team, there was no plan for him to make the team in any way, shape or form, and he just...(ended up) being a big contributor toward a playoff run by the end of the year, and I think you need that, your system has to produce that type of player every now and then, sometimes it's a 20th Round pick that has maybe got a year and a half in the minors or something is all he got, but maybe something slowed him down but now he's healthy and we're just starting to see what he can do, and again, he just won't be denied, you know, one of those type of guys, and they dominate quickly at Double-A or Triple-A and shoot through the system and next thing you know it's like making a good trade, you've got this guy that you weren't expecting who's on your club now and it's a trade but you didn't have to give up anything to get him..."
• ? For The DC Faithful:
Is there anyone on the Nats' roster, or with an invite to Spring Training who you think can make a surprise contribution this season? Would it be a surprise if Roger Bernadina or Justin Maxwell made that sort of impact this season? Discuss...?