Today, the Nats begin a stretch of games that boggle the mind.

They play the Tigers at beautiful Joker Marchant Stadium in less-then-beautiful Lakeland, FL (97 miles from Viera, spring training home of your Nationals). Tomorrow, they trudge all the way across the state to Dunedin (151 miles from Viera) to play the Toronto Blue Jays.

Thursday, the team plays the defending world champion Phillies in Clearwater (147 miles from Viera), just a couple miles from Dunedin.

For financial reasons, the team has decided not to stay in the Clearwater area, but to criss-cross the Route 4 corridor on successive days. It seems obvious that none of the actual major leaguers are going to take these bus trips; that's why guys like Corey Patterson, Alex Cintron and Javier Valentien are still hanging around. So what's the point?

The Nats didn't have a "home-and-home" scheduled with either Toronto or Philly, it's the only time the teams play, for obvious reasons. One suggestion was that since the Dodgers moved from Vero Beach the Nats had to improvise for spring training opponents.

While that may be true in the grand scheme, that excuse didn't keep the Nats from already playing a dozen games against the Marlins, Astros and Mets. What would two more games be?

Were that not enough, after the Philly game the Nats fly to Norfolk, VA for an exhibition against the Orioles at their Triple-A team's stadium on Friday. They then bus to DC for the season ticket holder's exhibition with the O's on Saturday before flying BACK to Florida to open the season in Miami against the Marlins on Monday.

Seven games in seven different cities in eight days. Then a week-long six-game road trip to open the season. Who sets this schedule, the Marquis de Sade?
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Actual baseball information: Dmitri Young, playing today against the Tigers, apparently will start the season in extended spring training, giving him time to get his timing down after missing so many games this spring.

Given the price to place him back on the 40-man roster was just Wily Mo Pena, I'm perfectly happy allowing the Meathook a couple of weeks to see if he can return to be a contributing switch-hitting pinch-hitter for the Nats.

It's questionable as to whether a team like the Nats can afford that luxury, but as Mr. Kasten said yesterday, DY can fall out of bed and hit. That's never been questioned. Let's hope that during his less-structured extended spring training he actually gets better and doesn't fall back into bad habits without his bosses around.

1 comments

  1. Cheryl Nichols // March 31, 2009 at 2:36 PM  

    I completely agree. The Nats are going to be exhausted for their home opener! That is a lot of traveling in a week.

    It is quite unfortunate timing because I bet that there would have been a lot of fans that would have traveled to Florida for the end of spring training and stay for opening day in Miami. Those same fans wouldn't want to miss the special event and exhibition game on Saturday and see a bunch of spring training games on the road with players who won't make the roster!