Pinch hit­ter, closer shine in new roles.

Lind, Treinen shine in new roles in first win of sea­son

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TODD DYBAS

The slen­der mid­dle shelf in Adam Lind’s locker houses in­nocu­ous things. There is de­odor­ant, a few pa­pers, and an invit­ing slot to toss a cell­phone.

Added Mon­day af­ter­noon was a base­ball en­cased in a plas­tic square. About 45 min­utes ear­lier, Lind had hit that ball into the cen­ter field stands for a go-ahead, ten­sion-break­ing two-run home run. He howled when turn­ing first base. Those in a sold-out Na­tion­als Park whooped, re­lieved, as Lind slammed high-fives back in the dugout. The crowd reached with their voices for Lind to emerge from the dugout for fur­ther love. Daniel Mur­phy di­rected him to do so. Up the steps went Lind, who thrust his right arm in the air.

Six weeks be­fore his go-ahead home run helped Washington to a 4-2 win over the Mi­ami Mar­lins on Open­ing Day, Lind was out of a job. He waited at home with his family, hop­ing some­one would call to pick up a left-handed bat that had hit at least 20 home runs in five sep­a­rate sea­sons. Fi­nally, Lind and his ex­tended chin hair ar­rived in West Palm Beach, filled a back locker with other vet­er­ans who had vary­ing chances of stick­ing around and be­came competition for the left-handed pinch-hit­ting role.

Lind hit 20 home runs in just 401 at-bats last sea­son for Seattle. That, he

con­tended in the spring showed he still had power. He just needed a job. Washington gave him one, at the ex­pense of Clint Robin­son, and Baker sum­moned him Mon­day af­ter­noon to dis­pel the angst cre­ated by twice hav­ing two on and none out, but not scor­ing a run.

“That sit­u­a­tion, Open­ing Day, can’t re­ally beat it,” Lind said. He was not ner­vous. Lind is 33, first en­tered the league in 2006 with the Toronto Blue Jays and has hit 186 ca­reer home runs. Ex­cited is a bet­ter word for what he felt in­side dur­ing his first at-bat with his new team, the fourth club of his 12-year ca­reer. In the bat­ting cage, he hit “flips” — un­der­hand tosses from up close — to be­come loose. His pinch-hit­ting plan is not in­tri­cate or honed. Lind just wants to re­lax, if pos­si­ble, then see what hap­pens.

In this case, he hit a 2-0, 94-mph fast­ball from Mi­ami re­liever David Phelps a few rows back in the cen­ter field stands. Lind had dealt well with Phelps in the past dur­ing their time as foes in the Amer­i­can League. Lind was 5-for-14 with two home runs against the vet­eran re­liever. How­ever, they had not faced each other in years.

“I don’t even know what hap­pened,” Lind said. “You wish you could hold onto it for a lifetime, but it goes by and you don’t even re­al­ize what even hap­pened.”

Lind’s home run backed up the one Bryce Harper hit in the sixth, also off Phelps. It was Harper’s fifth home run in as many Open­ing Day games. The lone time he had not home­red to start the sea­son was 2014. In 2013, he did so twice.

Mi­ami’s odd bullpen con­struc­tion pitted the right-handed Phelps against Harper and Lind, both left-handed bat­ters. The Mar­lins do not have a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. Washington pop­u­lated its lineup with five play­ers who can hit left-handed, in­clud­ing align­ing three left-handed hit­ters in a row in spots 2-4. For a day, Adam Ea­ton, Bryce Harper and Mur­phy hit con­sec­u­tively.

Washington’s bullpen use went as planned. Af­ter starter Stephen Stras­burg was re­placed at the plate by Lind in the sev­enth in­ning, Sammy So­lis pitched the eighth. Mur­phy drove in a run in the bot­tom of the eighth for a 4-2 lead. Af­ter, 42,744 sets of eyes in the park shifted to Blake Treinen.

The Na­tion­als’ new closer was sur­rounded by cam­eras pregame, pro­vid­ing the first dose of what his new life as the han­dler of the ninth in­ning will be like. Treinen stood on top of the bullpen mound watch­ing the bot­tom of the eighth un­fold. When the Mar­lins made a pitch­ing change, he leaned against a green wall in the bullpen, wait­ing for his first save chance as the Na­tion­als’ closer.

Treinen’s in­ning lasted three bat­ters. Mi­ami strong­man Gian­carlo Stan­ton popped out in foul ter­ri­tory. Treinen re­cov­ered from a 3-0 count to strike out Justin Bour with a veer­ing slider, his an­ti­dote for left-handed hit­ters who had made his life mis­er­able in 2015. A strike­out of Mar­cell Ozuna closed the game for Treinen’s first save in his new po­si­tion and the sec­ond of his ca­reer.

“I had a lit­tle bit more emo­tion to­day than typ­i­cal,” Treinen said. “I think it’s good to pitch with emo­tion, but I was able to take some pretty good fo­cus to the mound, ex­e­cute a cou­ple of pitches which was re­ally good af­ter the out­ing a few days ago. So just take it and roll with it. I was re­ally pleased with the ex­e­cu­tion of my pitches.”

For a day, the off­sea­son could be re­flected upon fondly. Washington was of­ten panned for its de­ci­sion to de­clare a closer from an in-house crop of op­tions. Sign­ing Lind mid­way through Fe­bru­ary was met with shrugs. The first ap­pear­ances for each could not have gone bet­ter.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Washington Na­tion­als pinch hit­ter Adam Lind celebrates his go-ahead two-run home run in the sev­enth in­ning of a 4-2 win over the Mi­ami Mar­lins on Mon­day. The free agent signee later re­ceived a cur­tain call.

Washington Na­tion­als catcher Matt Wi­eters hands the game ball to pitcher Blake Treinen af­ter the closer earned his first save in his new role.

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