There will be baseball in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium this morning as the Washington Nationals take on the Washington Nationals in an intrasquad game. Dusty Baker talked to reporters on Saturday about pitting teammate vs teammate in this morning's matchup, which is open to the public. It all gets started at 11:00 AM in FL.
"This is more for the pitchers," Baker explained. "This is the earliest I've ever had an intrasquad game, basically."
Not participating in today's game: Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy.
"Jayson Werth. [Ryan] Zimmerman. Some of the big boys, you've got to bring a little slowly and then crest hopefully right before they start the season," Baker said, noting that it was early for some of the players who dealt with injury issues last year.
"So, a lot of the kids are coming over from the minicamp," Baker said. "Which is the point and purpose of having them here. To fill in. And also to get their feet wet [against] big league competition. So it's two-fold. I'm curious to see some of them play too."
Baker wasn't kidding about some of the "kids" getting an opportunity.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweeted out the lineup card this morning, and while there are plenty of familiar names, like Ben Revere, Trea Turner, Clint Robinson and Michael Taylor on Team [Joe] Ross, and Matt den Dekker, Jose Lobaton and Brendan Ryan on Team [Max] Scherzer, there are also a number of young players listed.
Nats' backstop prospect Spence Kieboom is behind the plate catching for Ross.
2013 2nd Round pick Drew Ward is on the bench for Team Scherzer.
Victor Robles, 2015 Draft picks Andrew Stevenson (1st Round) and Rhett Wiseman (3rd Round) are also on the bench for Team Ross while Blake Perkins, the Nationals' 2015 second round pick is on Team Scherzer.
Baker said that today and tomorrow's games will give the Nationals' coaches a good opportunity to look at some of the pitchers in camp.
"This is at the request of [pitching coach] Mike Maddux," he explained. "... to get our pitchers ready, because we have some tough decisions. It's a little different here because we don't have anybody to play. Where [Maddux] came from in Texas and me in Cincinnati, we shared a stadium with somebody, so we always had games and always had someone to play other than ourselves, because a lot of times your pitchers don't really pitch the same because they don't want to hit one of your own guys. They're not thinking about hitting somebody else's guy.
"They'll pitch inside without thinking about it. But here, it's a little different when you have intrasquad games because guys are thinking about hitting each other. So if you see a lot of guys missing outside, I think that's why. I don't think they would consciously... but subconsciously."
[ed. note - "We're, obviously, not in Florida, maybe one day someone will see the value in sending us, but if you're following along on the Twitter, feel free to help your fellow readers out and post Tweets and comments from today's games in the comment section below. We're rooting for Team Ross! Get'em Joe!"]