I know Spring Training is meaningless (after all, the White Sox were 0-6 before winning Monday), but it's hard not to get excited about a 11-1 win. Of course, we started our best lineup (Biggio, Bagwell (DH), Berkman, Ensberg, Wilson, Lane, Ausmus, Everett, Palmeiro) against a bunch of scrub pitchers for the Nats. I could talk about how we batted around in the first inning; how Lane hit another homer; how we drew seven walks as a team … but I won't.
The big news was Brandon Backe. The kid threw three hitless innings and walked only one. And this was against Washington's "real" lineup, if you can call it that. No Soriano, but Vidro, Johnson, Church, Zimmerman, Tucker and Clayton couldn't do squat against Backe. Keep it up, big fella. Trever Miller K'd a couple in his inning: he's been putting up zeros so far. Qualls rebounded from an ugly outing over the weekend with a scoreless inning today.
I hope today's lineup is an indicator of Garner's master plan during the regular season. It's a shame to bench Willy T, but as pinch runner/defensive replacement, his best skills are still being used. Some folks think he ought to start the year at AAA Round Rock, but with Bagwell's (and Wilson's) injury concerns, he might as well stay up. Bagwell appears to be a good fit for the number two spot: he won't have the pressure of having to drive in runs but his keen batting eye and baserunning skills are still very good.
The order of Wilson and Lane shouldn't matter, as they actually are identical twins. Both have dominated so far this spring and might near 30 homers on the season. But whoever bats sixth in front of Ausmus and Everett might not get too many good pitches to see. Of course, those two never saw a pitch they didn't like, so maybe this isn't such a good thing after all.
J.R. House sure is getting a lot of playing time, just not at catcher. First base today, third base yesterday. He's been doing all right, too … maybe Garner should give him a start or two at catcher during a split-squad game to check out his defense and game-calling.