|WASHINGTON ( STRASBURG )|
NY METS ( GEE )
|903||WASHINGTON||-160||Ov 6.5,-110||-160||Ov 6.5,+100|
|904||NY METS||+150||Un 6.5,-110||+150||Un 6.5,-120|
|3/31/2014||STRASBURG(R)||@ NY METS||GEE(R)|| |
|4/2/2014||GONZALEZ(L)||@ NY METS||COLON(R)|| |
|4/3/2014||ZIMMERMANN(R)||@ NY METS||WHEELER(R)|| |
|WASHINGTON: WASHINGTON (AP) - Thanks in part to No. 1 overall draft picks Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the 2012 Washington Nationals were considered an up-and-coming team, perhaps a year or two away from contending.|
So what did they do? Went out and led the majors with 98 wins.
Thanks to that quick rise, the 2013 Nationals became a popular pick to go to the World Series. So what did they do? Stumbled at the start and missed out on the playoffs.
Now here come the 2014 Nationals, featuring largely the same roster - including Strasburg on the mound, and Harper in left field, both feeling good after offseason surgery - and with rookie manager Matt Williams replacing Davey Johnson, he of the ''World Series or bust'' proclamation.
One key difference: The club knows what it's like to experience a truly disappointing, worse-than-they-were-supposed-to-be season for the first time since moving from Montreal in 2005.
''We got ahead of ourselves a little bit. My take on it was always: Last year in spring training, we had expectations on ourselves, really, for the first time, and we thought we were better, maybe, than we were,'' reliever Tyler Clippard said. ''We came into the season expecting to win, which is a good thing. But at the same time, we might not have went out there and earned it, like we should have.''
Yes, the team that got Strasburg and Harper thanks to consecutive 100-loss seasons is trying to deal with lofty goals.
''To see the organization from basically, literally, the ground up, improve is something I kind of take pride in, because when I signed, people would be like, `Oh, you play for the Expos and the Nationals,' and they'd be like, `Uh, OK, I don't know them,''' said shortstop Ian Desmond, drafted by Montreal in 2004. ''And now, it's like there's some pride behind playing for the Washington Nationals.''
|NY METS: NEW YORK (AP) - Five straight losing seasons. That's what the New York Mets have produced since moving into Citi Field.|
David Wright, for one, is tired of it.
''We need to start going out there showing results,'' the star third baseman said. ''The last couple years we've kind of been hampered by some contracts and payroll issues. It seems like that's behind us. At the same time, we've got those prospects knocking at the door. I think we're in a better place now than we have been the past few years and quite frankly, I think we have a better team.''
Translation: No more waiting for next year. No more selling the future. No more excuses.
It's time to take a step forward - and that means winning.
General manager Sandy Alderson seems to think so, too. After he signed free agents Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young this offseason, a report emerged that Alderson told staffers he thinks the Mets can win 90 games (with a payroll under $90 million).
Even hard-core fans found that overly optimistic, especially with ace Matt Harvey expected to miss the entire season following Tommy John surgery. New York posted its second consecutive 74-88 record last year - and that was with Harvey on the mound most of the way.
But there is reason for hope, particularly in Triple-A. Touted young pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero could soon join a promising rotation that includes Colon, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese.
''He's got all the traits of the good ones,'' manager Terry Collins said about Syndergaard. ''He's on track to be special.''
The offense could be better with the addition of Granderson, who got a $60 million, four-year deal after an injury-plagued season for the Yankees across town. His left-handed power bat should provide some much-needed protection for Wright.
The multitalented Young, on a one-year contract following a down season in Oakland, appears highly motivated to regain his All-Star form.
''It's been interesting to watch the whole team,'' Granderson said early in spring training. ''There's power here. Chris Young has been amazing.''
The lineup remains flawed and prone to strikeouts, though the roster has improved. Perhaps not enough to push Washington and Atlanta in the NL East just yet, but the Mets expect to take significant strides this season as they anticipate Harvey's return in 2015.
''When I re-signed here, I knew it wasn't an overnight fix. I think I like that part of the challenge of it,'' Wright said. ''I want to be part of the reason why we get this thing turned around and headed in the right direction and ultimately start winning again. I think we have that ability.''
| AP freelance writer Kevin Dunleavy in Washington contributed to this report. |
|Last Updated: 10/22/2014 12:17:40 AM EST|