I hate Spring Training. It's torture, and not the good kind you pay for. It's like decaf coffee or the last season of NewsRadio or watching a baseball game that doesn't count and the last six innings are played by dudes you're never going to hear of again. It's just like that last one, in fact.But I'm still slogging through all these damn meaningless Spring Training stories. Every day, the Post, the Times, and Ladsonland write about the same thing and say nothing. But at least today we get three synoptic stories about the only thing I still like about baseball: ¡Livan! Dave Sheinin reminds us why all this talk about John Patterson being our ace was premature at least.
With one notable exception -- "The day people think I went crazy," Hernandez said with a laugh -- the extent of Hernandez's pain, and the seriousness of his knee injury, was only hinted at last year. He hid it well, leading the Nationals with 15 wins and leading the majors with 246 1/3 innings pitched, despite dealing with various degrees of pain for all but the first month of the season.Damn right.
It also was his 31st birthday . . .Hmm. I think this needs a little editing.
It also was his "31st" birthday . . .That's better.
. . . though he looks almost exactly the same as the rookie who was the most valuable player of the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins.What's a couple of chins between friends? I sure don't look the same as I did in 1997.
Now it can be told: On the day Hernandez "went crazy," he wasn't crazy at all. Just hurting.I refuse to entertain any notion that Livan isn't crazy.
And that's the downside of this being the second year. I've already said everything I can say about Livan, and we're left with this.
The other big news coming out of Viera is that MLB.com's Bill Ladson is still frantically trying to get us to call John Patterson "Big Nasty." We've already been through what an inappropriate nickname that is for Patterson, but this affords us an opportunity to compare and contrast. One, two, three stories about Patterson on Monday, and Ladson's is the only one with "Big Nasty." If I didn't know better, I'd think Ladson was using his position as the near-official but not-subject-to-the-approval-of-MLB-or-its-clubs voice of the Nationals to impose this bizarre nickname on the rest of us.
Working against that theory is the evidence that Patterson is apparently tired of looking like a baby deer and decided to spend the winter big nastifying himself.
Besides the ill-advised facial hair, there is some heartening news about our boy John.
Patterson was working on a changeup that was taught to him by pitching coach Randy St. Claire.This has a chance to be something more than the usual Spring Training "I'm 100%!"/ "I'm finally in shape!"/ "I grew a beard that will make me look nasty on the mound!" nonsense. Take the whole Nationals front office and coaching staff: St. Claire is the only one of them who's proven himself to be worth a damn. His coaching made Hector Carrasco good and Livan great. If he can improve Patterson anywhere near as much as he improved Carrasco, we really will have a new ace.