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2/12/08 Where Will The Nationals Find All The Catchers Needed?

     Livan Hernandez told's Bill Ladson that he wanted to return to D.C. in Mr. Ladson's article, "Livan wants to lead Nats staff", at last week, but just as every other free agent pitcher the Nationals have expressed interest in this offseason has, Livan Hernandez signed elsewhere, inking a deal with the Minnesota Twins which will have the 32 year old right-handed soft-tosser going against American League batting for the first time in his impressive 12-year MLB career.

     As for the Washington Nationals, according to the Washington Post's baseball writer Barry Svrluga's article, "Nationals to Start the Season With a Better Feel for Pitching", they are more than willing to make a go of it with the young and rehabilitated arms they have on their roster, and see if they can't find a gem or two from amongst the thirty-six or so pitchers they've invited to Spring Training.

     Nationals' Manager Manny Acta, in Mr. Svrluga's words, knows that:

          "...Hill, Chico, Jason Bergmann, John Patterson and Tim
          Redding all can pitch in the majors. He knows if they break
          down, a young group of arms that includes John Lannan,
          Collin Balester, Tyler Clippard, Garrett Mock and eventually
          even Ross Detwiler, last year's first-round pick, is
          developing with varying degrees of promise."

     Garrett Mock, the twenty-four year old right hander that the Nationals acquired along with Matt Chico from Arizona for Livan Hernandez in August 2006, received high praise from Nationals' Assistant General Manager Mike Rizzo in's Bill Ladson's article, "Excited Mock out to prove he belongs", after Mr. Rizzo watched Mock in the Arizona Fall League and reported:

          "Garrett was outstanding...He looked as good as any
          pitcher in the Arizona Fall League. His knee looked very
          healthy. His arm was working good. He was throwing

     In four Minor League seasons in the D-Backs' and Nationals' systems, Mock's compiled a (25-28) record with a 4.48 ERA in 82 starts and 464.1 innings, over which he's struck out 391 batters and walked just 134.

     Fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Mock, who was drafted by the D-Backs with the 86th overall pick in the 3rd Round of the 2004 Amateur Draft during Mike Rizzo's tenure as the D-Backs Director of Scouting, was (1-2) in 7 starts for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, with a 4.78 ERA and 21 K's in 26.1 innings, and Mock could be one of the first pitchers called up should the Nationals suffer any injuries to their starting staff...That is, if he doesn't make the roster out of Spring Training.  

     In Bill Ladson's article, "Around the Horn: Starting rotation", he quotes Washington's returning Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire, who addresses the value that Mock and the other young Nationals' pitchers (Lannan, Balester, Clippard, and Detwiler), have for the organization, stating:

          "We are starting to see a nice crop...We are starting to have
          that depth that you need at the Double- and Triple-A
          levels because you have injuries. We are not going to go  
          with five starters all year long."

     The Nationals are going to have to find a whole lot of time and innings to watch their Spring pitching's the official list of 40-Man Roster and Non-Roster pitchers headed for Viera, Florida next week...(ed.note- "..and this is just the 'starters'!!")

ROSTER                             NON-ROSTER

Jason Bergmann              Collin Balester
Matt Chico                        Bobby Brownlie
Tyler Clippard                  Tristan Crawford
Ross Detwiler                    Mike Hinckley
Joel Hanrahan                   Mike O'Connor                
Shawn Hill                          Steven Shell
John Lannan                       Josh Smoker
Garrett Mock                     Jason Stanford
John Patterson                  Dennis Tankersley
Tim Redding

*Nationals' Pitching Links*

Garrett Mock's career stats at's Bill Ladson's article, "Livan wants to lead Nats staff", at ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga's article, "Nationals to Start the Season With a Better Feel for Pitching", at 2923

Minnesota Twins press release, "Twins agree to terms with Livan Hernandez on one-year contract", at 1445&vkey=pr_min&fext=.jsp&c_id=min's Bill Ladson's article, "Excited Mock out to prove he belongs", at ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was's Bill Ladson's article, "Around the Horn: Starting Rotation", at ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was's list of the Washington Nationals' 40-Man Roster:'s list of the Washington Nationals' Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees: