After giving up 4 runs on 12 hits with 5 K's and 0 walks in three starts and 9.0 IP to start the Spring, Washington right-hander Garrett Mock told MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr, in an article entitled, "Mock says Pudge helping to improve command", about the future Hall of Fame catcher, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's efforts to help Mock and the other Nats' pitchers, "...work on finer points of pitching in spring training, specifically in hitting a spot 'to see if they can or show them that they can,'" with Mock, in particular telling Mr. Kerr that he was focused on getting, "...better command of some of his off speed pitches." Back in August of 2006, when the Nationals acquired Mock and left-hander Matt Chico in a trade with the Diamondbacks that sent Livan Hernandez to Arizona, then-Asst. GM Mike Rizzo, who'd worked as the scouting director for the D-Backs before joining former Nats' general manager Jim Bowden's front office, told MLB.com's BIll Ladson in an article entitled, "Asst. GM high on additions", that the "conservative" (Mr. Ladson's word) estimate had both then-23-year-old pitchers in the majors by 2008, as long as Mock was able, "...to be more consistent with his location,":
"'That's the final hurdle for pitchers who end up really good,' Rizzo said. 'The stuff is there. They show flashes of it, but the inconsistency kind of fights them every so often. That happens to a lot of young pitchers.'"
In Mock's fourth Spring start, against the Florida Marlins on 3/20, he surrendered 6 hits, 3 ER and the first walk he'd this allowed this March, while striking out four, then before his 5th start, the Nationals announced that J.D. Martin, who's also competing for the fifth spot in the Nats' rotation, would start in the major league game against the Tigers instead of Mock who'd be taking on the Astros' minor leaguers. Nats Insider Mark Zuckerman quoted Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman explaining the decision, in an article entitled, "Martin to start tomorrow", as simply an attempt to get Martin, "...a major-league game because he does remain in contention for a rotation spot." Martin allowed 5 runs in the first inning of his 3/25 start against the Tigers, but recovered to hold Detroit scoreless over the next 4.0 innings, while Mock, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's blog post entitled, "Nats to name four pitchers in rotation", had, in Mr. Ladson's words, "...a disapppointing outing...in which gave up three home runs," to the 'Stros minor leaguers, so that when the MLB writer revealed his list of the Nationals' first four starters, it did not include Mock, who was instead on a shorter list, with J.D. Martin and left-hander Scott Olsen, (who had his best outing of the Spring Sunday), as the three pitchers under consideration for the fifth spot in the Nats' rotation behind John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Craig Stammen and Livan Hernandez.
According to Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's article Sunday entitled, "Scott Olsen sweats it out", the Nationals are trying to decided whether or not, "...they want to carry [Olsen] in their organization," knowing that they, "...would owe Scott Olsen his full salary for the year even if he were in the minor leagues." The Nationals Farm Authority's Brian Oliver in an early March article entitled, "Option Status", wrote that Garrett Mock has one option remaining, as does Olsen, according to both Mr. Oliver, and The Washington Post's Mr. Kilgore, who wrote about Olsen's option in another article entitled, "A rough night leaves Scott Olsen uncertain", while J.D. Martin, according to Mr. Oliver, has, "'Three (with a realistic chance of (a) fourth), option year remaining." Will remaining options make the Nationals' decision for them?
Olsen's given up 30 hits, 11 ER, 3 HR's and 1 walk in 4 starts and 14.2 IP over which he's K'd 6 this Spring. Mock's allowed 18 hits, 7 ER and 4 HR's in 4 starts and 14.0 IP in which he's walked 1 and recorded 9 K's. J.D. Martin's surrendered a walk, 7 runs and 10 hits in 10.0 IP, with 6 K's in 2 starts and 1 relief appearance. Who's your fifth starter? Who do you think DC Skipper Jim Riggleman will choose? Anyone else want to see Garrett Mock get a shot two years after DC GM Mike Rizzo's conservative estimate for his arrival?