Lannan aims for better results in opener
Second first-game start vs. Phillies a big deal to left-hander
After going 2-0 with a 2.90 ERA during Spring Training, left-hander John Lannan is ready to be the Nationals' Opening Day starter against the Phillies at Nationals Park on Monday afternoon.
Being ready is one thing -- Lannan hopes to have better luck against the Phillies. In 2009, Lannan was 0-3 with a 5.24 ERA against them. If he wants to win this game, Lannan must get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis. Lefties hit .290 against him last year, and two of Philadelphia's top hitters are left-handed.
Lannan had mixed results when facing first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley. Howard was 0-for-11 with four strikeouts, while Utley was 5-for-10 with two home runs and four RBIs against Lannan last season.
"I'm ready to get out of Spring Training. I'm ready to go," Lannan said.
Monday will mark the second successive year in which Lannan has been Washington's Opening Day starter.
Last year, he lasted three innings and gave up six runs on six hits against the Marlins on the road. Lannan is hoping that things will be different when he faces Phillies ace Roy Halladay.
|Projected Opening Day lineup|
"I'm just going to forget about [last year's Opening Day]. I'm not really going to base this year's game on last year's game," Lannan said. "I'm not going to put unwanted pressure on it. Last year, I put a lot of pressure on it. This year, I'm going to go out there like it's a regular game. It's going to be a great game. I have to trust that my stuff is going to be good enough."
Lannan was happy when he heard the news about pitching in his second Opening Day game. He heard the news first from a reporter before getting the official word a few weeks later.
Lannan said his parents, sister, girlfriend and two friends from Philadelphia will attend the game.
"As a pitcher, you would like to face the best, and I want to face the Phillies. I want to go against the toughest guys and really compete," Lannan said. "It's going to be exciting. ... Either way, I wanted that [Opening Day] game so I can make up for last year, and I definitely want to do better than last year.
"It will be awesome for my family. My sister is going to be there. It's going to be a big game. I'm facing Halladay, so that is going to be cool."
Lannan hopes he will not be warming up in the bullpen when President Barack Obama enters the clubhouse. President Obama will throw out the first pitch before the game between Washington and Philadelphia."It's pretty exciting," Lannan said. "We were hoping he would [throw out the first pitch] last year. I think this year is a good time to do it. I think it's going to be a great game. There is already so much anticipation going into the season as it is. I think President Obama being there is pretty cool."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.