Friday afternoon, before the Washington Nationals' Grapefruit League matchup with their NL East rivals from Miami, a reporter asked Nats' skipper Dusty Baker what he's looking for from his pitchers in their first outings of the Spring?
"I'm not really looking for anything," Baker said. "I'm just looking."
Pitchers aren't in Opening Day form, and older guys sometimes take a while to get going, so he looks at things like how they handle adversity and how they handle pressure.
"As long as things are going good, you don't really get a good read on anybody," he explained, "but you get bases loaded, nobody out, then we start seeing how you handle it."
Twenty-four hours later, 27-year-old lefty Sammy Solis found himself in the situation Baker described in the top of the eighth inning of the Nationals' matchup with the Detroit Tigers.
Solis, a 2010 second round pick who debuted in the majors last season after dealing with injury issues throughout his previous five seasons in the organization, gave up a leadoff walk, a single on a pop up to short and base-loading walk on a full-count change that was called ball four.
Back-to-back Ks followed, however, and a groundout to short got the left-hander out of the jam, preserving the Nats' 6-4 lead in what ended up an 8-4 win.
His manager was impressed.
"Well, it's pretty impressive," Baker said. "During that time there was a walk, and then during that time there was, I think, a 3-2 changeup that was a bit questionable that loaded up the bases."
Even though Solis missed with the full-count offering that loaded the bases, Baker liked the thinking.
"At least he tried to entice a guy into a double play," the veteran manager explained.
"He's still learning how to pitch to what you need. Sometimes you need a strikeout, sometimes you need a fly ball with two outs, sometimes you need a double play.
"What I was impressed with was that he tried to entice a guy with a double play. The pitch selection that you throw up there is what tells me what your intentions are and then after that, then I was impressed with him getting out of trouble.
"But like I said, he's learning and he has the stuff, and I liked the fact the [catcher Spencer] Kieboom was -- I thought that his pitch selection -- he takes charge of the game, I like him back there."
Solis threw 26 ⅔ innings total between Double-A and Triple-A in the Nats' system last season, made nine appearances out of the Nationals' bullpen, and threw 21 ⅓ innings in the majors after making his debut in late April, posting a 3.38 ERA, a 3.46 FIP, four walks (1.69 BB/9), 17 Ks (7.17 K/9) and a .281/.323/.395 line against in his first prolonged stint as a reliever.
Baker was asked if it's up to the pitcher to figure a way out of those jams, or if he would consider taking a pitcher out in that situation even in Spring Training?
"Not in Spring Training," he said. "What's more important? To win the game or for the kid to figure out how to get out of it? Because I won't be able to come rescue him all the time. I want to see what you can do, because I won't be able to rescue you sometimes always during the season.
"I mean, you climb up in that tree," Baker continued, "I've got to let you get yourself down sometimes. I can't always call the fire department or climb up the ladder. You got up there, let's see if you can get out.
"A lesson like that is valuable when you're trying to help make a pitcher -- mold a pitcher to maturity."