Ovechkin's in Trouble
Ovechkin's throwing the opening pitch at the Nats game in about two hours. (He throws lefty, btw). Here's what Jose Vidro said when Ovie started warming up.
"You throw like a girl. [Bleep Bleep]. C'mon. You've got to be [bleeping] me."
So there's that.
"He's got a little work cut out for him," captain Chris Clark acknowledged. "We've got three hours. I think we can work out the kinks."
Jamie Heward then took AO aside, and several other players started giving him advice, and things seem to be looking up.
Now the Caps are perched on top of the batting cage oozing little-kidness as the Nats warm up: shaking players' hands, and clutching bats and taking little swings and so on, all while wearing blue Nats hats, red Nats shirts and blue and red warm-up Nats warm-up pants. Plus the Phillies are out on the field. If we could get the Flyers down here, it would really be on, especially after last night.
(Soriano and Ovechkin are now posing for photos, and Nats hitting coach Mitchell Page is offering Ovie even more hitting advice. See below.)
Further notes from a day in which all of D.C. sports converged on RFK.
1) Jamie Heward sent two balls to the warning track, then crushed one over the left field fence. Crushed. Pure power. He then took a lap around the bases. Turns out he played serious baseball until the age of 22 (as a catcher) and frequently comes to Nats games as a fan.
Ovechkin: "Maybe he should change sport."
Heward: "When everybody asks what would you do if you weren't playing hockey, this would be it right here."
Nats batting coach Mitchell Page: "The guy that hit the home run? Bring him to me. Let me be his agent."
Heward: "If they're looking for a 35 year old DH or something....."
2) Ovechkin on his fight last night: "It's ok, nothing special. I just go and protect my partner."
3) Ovechkin on whether he'll fight during the regular season: "If the situation [demands it], yes."
4) Matt Bradley on whether Ovechkin will fight during the regular season: "We won't let him do that ever again. It was impressive, though. That's just the way Ovie is--he's a competitor. It didn't surprise us that he can fight too; you know, he can do everything else, so why couldn't he fight? But he's our best player, he's our go-to guy on the team, and we don't want him fighting."
5) Ovechkin went first in the batting cage, and then came back later for more, and then more again. His swing is, how shall I say, unconventional. Looks sort of like a two-handed forehand in tennis, except he dives into it. And he was wearing Chuck Taylor-esque dark green low-low-top shoes. But it works for him, because everything works for him, and he was lining balls all over the place. He also went to shag balls in the outfield, with his baseball hat on backwards, lost his hat somehow and was sprinting around the outfield with his hair flopping around.
"It was ugly, his swing was really ugly, but he did get some decent shots in there," Matt Bradley said.
"I'm awful, I'm awful," Ovechkin said.
6) Matt Bradley on Ovechkin's golf swing: "For sure, the worst golf swing I've ever seen in my life, by far."
7) And speaking of ugly....Matt Bradley in the batting cage. Man. Bad. Whiff after whiff after whiff. "What am I doing?" he asked. "Jeez," he said. "Embarassing," he said.
"Hey Pablo, I guarantee you'll hit five balls," said Page, who approached and offered him tips, which led to more whiffs. (Page calls everyone Pablo, incidentally, which must be some baseball thing that I don't know about.)
"Didn't see what I wanted to see out of him," Clark said.
"Back home where I'm from we play softball with a lot bigger balls, but that's no excuse," Bradley later said. "I don't know what happened. I was trying my hardest, I just couldn't hit the ball there. I'd like to say the guy was throwing hard; he wasn't. He tried to throw one underhanded to me and I still missed it."
8) And all the while this is going on, the number one topic among the scribes out on the field? Yup, you guessed it, Ovechkin's girlfriend. Who was sitting behind home plate with Ovechkin's dad, who was wearing a Nats hat that still had the sticker on it.
9) There are at least five Washington Post employees here, including Nats beat writer Barry Svrluga, word wizard Dave Sheinin, DCU beat writer Steve Goff and a non-sports writer to be named later. And me. Low travel costs today.
10) Chris Clark: Huge Red Sox fan. Huge. "This Nationals stuff is itching," he said, hinting that he was uncomfortable in foreign colors, but he did say the Nats are his favorite NL team. And, ever the captain, he said he was happy with his team's showing this afternoon. "The guys did better than I thought they'd do," he said, which could turn out to be an omen this year.
(And frankly, I didn't know what tag to give this. Caps? Nats? United? Can we please have more days in which three D.C. pro sports teams converge on one building within a span of three hours? And Caps fans, after all your complaints about the lack of coverage, can you hook a blogger up with a few comments or something? How bout this; many national writers see the Caps as the 14th or 15th best team in the East. Discuss.)
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