Due to a rental car "reservation error" (avoid E-Z Rental at all costs) we found ourselves at 12:10 scrambling to get from Orlando to Space Coast Stadium for a 1:05 first pitch. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, that is about an hour drive. With some special maneuvering, we were able to zip over to Viera to catch the third pitch of the game, not bad at all.
We settled into or seats, fifth row just to the right of home plate. This was a perfect spot to observe all of the great things there are to see, special things that you can really only get the opportunity to take in the first week of spring training. We were close enough that we could evaluate how well pitchers' stuff was working. We could see how batters' approaches had changed and how quick their bat looked, and we were also right next to the dugout, which gave us an opportunity to see how loose the players are and how well they get along.
Here are a few observations we noted during or first game at Viera.
1. Rendon's bat speed is legitimate. It's very rare, for me at least, to be able to look at a major league player and be able to eyeball one specific player that has superior bat speed compared to everyone else on the field. This was my immediate reaction to Rendon in his first at bat Thursday. I was incredibly impressed by his first cut, and his second cut resulted in a hard driven opposite field double that drove in two runs. A lot of people are excited about where Bryce Harper could be in July, but give it a couple months, and I believe the test of time will prove that Rendon will unequivocally be the major prospect storyline of 2012. He could legitimately push Desmond out of the shortstop position far sooner than we think.
2. At shortstop, Rendon looked serviceable. I only had a limited glance, but he certainly has the hands and the arm to play the position. I'm not 100 percent sure that he could ever be more than adequate, however, and while if you have an all-star caliber bat, an adequate glove can get you a long way, it doesn't seem reasonable not to insert the player who could be a plus defensive shortstop, Danny Espinosa.
3. Sitting behind Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo the entire game, you can tell that the two have a very special and a very strong bond. This is good for clubhouse chemistry, and it is condusive to making smart personnel decisions. For the first time since coming to Washington, we have a front office, a manager and a set of talented players who all seem to be on the same page. It is very early, but I think it is time to allow yourself to get excited about baseball this summer in Washington.