Notes: Redding has more confidence
Veteran heads into Spring Training with eye on rotation spot
MANASSAS, Va. -- Tim Redding went looking for a trophy this offseason, but it had nothing to do with baseball.
The Nationals right-hander, an avid hunter, traveled to several locales in pursuit of deer. He also helped move his family to a new home in the Michigan area, where his wife is from.
"I was just enjoying being around my kids," Redding said during a stop on the Nationals' Winter Tour. "They're 6 and 4 years old, so it's good to be able to hang out around the house and see them."
In a few weeks, he'll give up the hunting gear and head down to Florida to pursue one of the spots in the Nationals' starting rotation.
After struggling during Spring Training in 2007, Redding was called upon to bolster an injured starting rotation in July. But instead of coming to Washington for just a week or two, he demonstrated an ability to pitch well at the Major League level, and stayed with the club. He finished 3-6 with a 3.64 ERA in 15 starts.
Now, he'll go into Spring Training as one of the favorites for a rotation spot.
"I'm feeling confident in my abilities," he said. "Having the success I had last year, and working with the same coaching staff -- all those guys are very knowledgeable about winning and helping you improve every day of the season."
Bacsik's back: Left-handed pitcher Mike Bacsik will also return in 2008, though not with a guaranteed contract.
He'll instead have to earn his spot on the roster with a strong Spring Training performance, putting pressure on him to show up ready to work from the first day.
"There's different levels of Spring Training," he said. "Ryan Zimmerman, for example, will just prepare himself for March 30. He just needs to be ready to go then.
"But for a guy like me, I have to prove a lot. If I go out there and mess around, don't throw strikes, I'll be back in the Minor League camp as soon as they can send me there."
He said that during the offseason there was mutual interest from both sides in his returning to Washington, making contract negotiations quick and smooth.
Bacsik suffered a sore shoulder at the end of 2007, which he said he has worked on rehabilitating for most of the offseason. Spending the winter in Texas has allowed him to throw outdoors while cold weather moves through Washington.
The Bonds connection: While speaking at the Boys and Girls Club Saturday, Bacsik and Redding both captured the kids' interest by telling the stories of how they gave up home runs 756 and 757 to Barry Bonds.
Bacsik, never afraid of a little self-deferential humor, introduced himself this way:
"How many of you guys are familiar with me?" A few hands were raised.
"How many of you guys are familiar with Barry Bonds?" Every hand went up.
"Well, I gave up a home run to Barry Bonds that set a new home run record." Insert a round of ohs and ahs from the children.
Favorite teams: Bacsik didn't make any friends Friday at William Wirt Middle School by telling everyone his favorite football team was the Cowboys.
Redding must have taken the lesson to heart, because on Saturday he was asked what his favorite baseball team was growing up. He said the New York Yankees, which drew applause from the Boys and Girls Club crowd.
Quote of the day:" In the last 12 years I've really taken a liking to golf. After my [pitching] career ends, I would really like to hone my skills enough that I could maybe join a semi-pro tour or even the Champions Tour." -- Redding, discussing a possible future in golf once his baseball career ends
Michael Phillips is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.