VIERA, Fla. — We've reached the home stretch at last, and that means a couple of things: 1) Guys are absolutely itching to get out of here and get this thing started, and 2) Exhibition games start bearing more resemblance to regular-season games.
That's the case today, with Stephen Strasburg and nearly every member of the Nationals' starting lineup facing Zack Wheeler and the Mets' regulars. It's not exactly ideal for Strasburg (who is scheduled to pitch at least five innings) to be going up against the same team he'll face in only six days at Citi Field, but as manager Matt Williams said: "The schedule's the schedule, and we can't do anything about that."
It'll be Dillon Gee, not Wheeler, for the Mets on Opening Day. But regardless of the name of the man on the mound, manager Terry Collins is planning to hit his pitcher eighth most of the time to begin the season. The thought process: Try to create more RBI situations for No. 3 hitter David Wright by having three position players bat in front of him, while still having Wright bat in the first inning. A few managers have tried this over the years, including Jim Riggleman for a stretch in 2011. Whether it actually works remains up for debate.