Joe Ross was asked, after making his first start of the spring last Monday (March 8th), what it was like to be back on the mound in competitive action following a significant amount of time off for the 27-year-old right-hander, who got a few starts in during Spring Training 1.0, before the baseball world shut down last March, and then opted out of playing in last year’s 60-game season.
Ross said it felt like even longer than the year or so that it actually was between outings in Spring Training games, not to mention a game that, you know, counts.
“The last time — honestly, I would say it feels like it was like two — you could even say maybe like three years ago,” Ross acknowledged. “It feels like a long time. I mean, Spring Training games are one thing, but the last like real game was in the World Series. Which, even thinking back feels like a long time ago. But ... the live BPs have helped definitely kind of get that comfort with the batter in there.
“It’s felt like a while, but I felt good today and it feels good to kind of be back pitching.”
“He looked very comfortable. He looked really good,” manager Davey Martinez said after Ross got through 1 2⁄3 innings, giving up a run on one hit, walking one batter, and striking out three before he was done in the matchup with the New York Mets.
“Talked to him and he was happy to be back out there. It’s been a while. Almost probably a year since he’s been there.
“But he threw the ball well. We’ve still got a long way to go, but for the first outing facing another team, he threw the ball really well.”
Going up against the Nationals’ NL East rivals again last night, for the second time in under a week, Ross got in trouble early, with a two-out hit-by-pitch and back-to-back singles with throwing errors on each play allowing two runs to score in the first that put the starter and his club in a hole early.
Ross walked the first batter he faced in the second, but settled in and stranded the only runner to reach base in that frame, then retired the side in order in the third, before he returned to the mound in the fourth, hit a batter, gave up a single, and got the first out of the inning before he was done for the night.
Joe Ross’s Line: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 47 P, 3/5 GO/FO.
“He looks really good,” Martinez said after what ended up a 4-3, walk-off win over the Mets.
“It’s definitely encouraging. He threw the ball well. We stretched him out a little bit. He pitched in some high-leverage situations, and he did fine. The good news is that when I went out there to talk to him, he wanted to keep going, so that only tells me that he felt good.”
“I felt really good today getting pretty much up to 60,” Ross said when he too spoke with reporters after the outing. “... and I would have liked to stay in the game, obviously I know this is a Spring Training game, but just getting myself into a little bit of trouble, I would like to try to work out of that, one on, two guys out, that I’m sure will come up during the regular season.”
Being able to work out of jams in an early spring outing, of course, is actually helpful most of the time.
“That first inning, I wouldn’t say it went how I was expecting it to go — first pitch groundout, broken bat, so I feel pretty good, then hit a guy when I was ahead in the count, base hit, or I think kind of a flare base hit into right field, and then kind of threw the ball around a little bit,” Ross said.
“So, it was good to get into that situation early where I’m trying to work with runners on, with limited outs. Obviously I wouldn’t hope for that to happen every game, but at least it gets situations like that early, it’s only the second game so far, so we’ll see how things go from here.”
“In the course of the season he’s got to do that,” his manager added. “So, it was good to see him battling out there, and get in those situations, and pitching through them, so like I said, he did well.”