The Nationals gave Jhonatan Solano his first major league start on Wednesday night in Miami. The catcher, recently called up from AAA Syracuse because of the minor injury to Jesus Flores, had a very creditable game in what had to have been a high pressure situation for the young player.
Solano’s arm was on display during the game. He threw out Hanley Ramirez twice trying to steal second. He tagged Bryan Petersen out at home when Petersen was trying to score tagging up from third on a fly ball hit to right field, with a terrific throw by Roger Bernadina. Solano positioned himself perfectly at the plate to make the play, blocking the plate just enough to make Petersen slide around the plate which allowed Solano to put the tag on him before he could touch the plate. Solano did not make the mistake of blocking the entire plate with his body and getting barreled into by the runner. Perhaps Solano has heard that being a Nationals catcher this year is like being the drummer for Spinal Tap and was taking no chances. (For those of you who don’t get the movie reference, watch the movie. You will be glad you did.)
Solano went 0-3 batting. He was called out on a questionable third strike in his first at bat—the pitch was outside. Solano handled it like a veteran and did not show up the umpire or argue the call, probably realizing that that kind of behavior by a catcher can cause the umpire to take it out on your pitcher. Solano’s first major league at bat occurred in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game. Solano hit a double off Heath Bell. One of the managing mistakes Davey Johnson made Wednesday night was lifting Solano in the ninth inning for pinch hitter Rick Ankiel, who struck out against Bell for the third out with two runners on. Solano had handled Bell the night before, and it would have been interesting to see if he could have produced again against the same pitcher.
Jhonathan’s brother, Donovan Solano, is a recent call up for the Marlins. The Solano parents were in the stands to watch their sons play, which lead to some cool shots during the games of the parents cheering for their sons. On Tuesday, mom was wearing the Nationals jersey while dad was decked out in the Marlins jersey. For Wednesday’s game, dad was clad in the Washington jersey while mom sported the Marlins jersey and a Nats cap. They were obviously having a good time watching their sons and getting into the spirit of the situation.
Solano’s promising start may allow the Nats to send Carlos Maldonado back to Syracuse when they need to free up a roster spot for Michael Morse when he comes off the DL and keep Corey Brown in the majors a little longer to give the team a chance to give him a good look.