This picture, from the rarefied vantage point of the press box, shows one of the best characteristics of Nationals Park — the view of the U.S. Capitol beyond left field. Otherwise, I’m not blown away by this ballpark, though it’s obviously a big step up, as far as amenities and creature comforts, from delapidated RFK Stadium, where the Nationals played their first few years. I just don’t see anything very special to make it stand out.
Congratulations to long-time Mariners trainer Rick Griffin, who is missing a rare game in his 29-year career in Seattle. Griffin is in New Orleans to accept the Most Distinguished Trainer award from the PBATS (Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society) at the yearly symposium of the National Athletic Trainers Association. Their only higher honor is induction into the Hall of Fame — and you can’t achieve that unless you’ve won the Most Distinguished Trainer award. Griffin will return Wednesday. In his absence, assistant Rob Nodine will serve as head trainer.
This series will be the second this season for the Mariners this season under National League rules (not the first, as I originally said; they played in San Diego in May), taking away the designated hitter. Considering that M’s DHs are hitting a combined .218 with two homers, that might not be a huge loss, but manager Eric Wedge doesn’t see it that way.
“It’s tough on us, but it’s tough on all American League clubs, because your team is built for that,” he said. “But that’s the way it is. It’s also fun in a way. It’s a different game. I enjoy it. But you have to ask people to do things they’re not used to doing. We’ll see what happens, but it is more of a challenge.”
Miguel Olivo gets a rest today, with Chris Gimenez doing the catching. Wedge said he made the move so that Olivo can have two consecutive days of rest (combined with Monday’s off day). With lefty John Lannan starting for the Nationals on Wednesday, he wanted Olivo to play then, and he also wanted him to catch Michael Pineda on Thursday.
“I thought long and hard about it, but we pushed him pretty good back there (during their homestand and a recent 20-game stretch of playing every day),” Wedge said. “I think to give him two days here will make a big difference for him, and hopefully we can push him through as we head back home.”
With Dustin Ackley batting fifth today (pushed up from sixth because of the pitcher batting ninth), I asked Wedge where he ultimately sees the rookie hitting in the order.
“I’ve said, sitting here today, he could end up one, two or three. That would probably be my best bet. I’m not sure where he would fit in best, but I would say one of those top three spots. He’s only been here for a few days. He’ll be up there at some point in time. Let’s let him get a road trip under his belt, and let’s let him play a little bit here first.”
Wedge said he likes to protect young hitters, but sometimes they convince him that’s not necessary.
“I think it depends on the individual. Early in the year I felt strong about Smoak at either three or five. And then I got a feel for him a little more and he started to establish himself a little more. I think he’s going to end up either three, four or five, so now we’re giving him some experience in the four hole, too. Younger players, typically, you’d like for them to stay under the radar a little bit, but sometimes they take it out of your hands. Sometimes they push you. You have to make sure that mentally, they’re ready to handle it.”