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Mock strong in rehab start, Suns win

August 05, 2010|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Washington Nationals pitcher Garrett Mock made a rehab start in Hagerstown on Wednesday, pitching three innings.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Garrett Mock is loving life ... again.

Getting back to the old routine was exciting. It meant he was getting back to normal.

The Washington Nationals starting pitcher responded with three shutout innings on Wednesday in his first rehabilitation appearance since undergoing neck surgery, helping the Hagerstown Suns earn a 2-0 victory over the Lexington Legends at Municipal Stadium.

"I was so excited to go through the day," Mock said. "I was excited to put on the uniform, to listen to the guys in the clubhouse and to get back to start doing my routine. It felt great. That was my first time under the lights since my surgery."

Mock was excited for good reason. He faced 11 batters in three innings -- allowing a walk and a single in the third -- in his first outing since going to the disabled list on April 15.

The Suns (50-59, 14-25 second half) scored two runs in the first inning and made them stand up for their second straight victory.

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Mock had surgery on a ruptured disk that calcified and pinched off the nerves in his neck. The right-hander lost feeling in his pitching hand, having trouble releasing the ball at times, and was sent for surgery.

"When I lost the feeling in my hand, I didn't realize how bad it was," Mock said. "The minute I got up from the surgery, I had the feeling back. The whole rehab process was awkward."

Mock took the field without apprehension and was ready quickly.

"On the first two pitches, I could have jumped out of the stadium," he said. "But after that, I was ready to go."

He retired the Legends in order in the top of the first and let the Suns take over.

Hagerstown scored in the bottom of the first for the second straight game to set the tone. The Suns did it with precision.

Rick Hague led off with a double to right off Lexington starter Zach Grimmett (4-2). He advanced on a grounder to second by Adrian Sanchez, who joined Hagerstown on Wednesday and played second base in place of the injured Jeff Kobernus. Hague scored on J.P. Ramirez's single to left center.

Ramirez took second when center fielder Grant Hogue bobbled the ball, and moved to third on Justin Bloxom's grounder to second. He gave the Suns a 2-0 lead when Destin Hood reached on an error by second baseman Jimmy Paredes.

"The situational hitting got guys over and that was the biggest part of the game," said Suns manager Matt LeCroy. "Sanchez is new and I gave him the option to hit, but he moved the guy over and that was a good play. Bloxom did the same thing. That's what you got to do when you are scuffing to score runs."

Mock followed it up by doing what major league pitchers are called on to do -- pitch a scoreless inning to protect the lead. He retired the Legends in order again to keep the Suns in charge.

"(Mock) was missing up a little, but made some adjustments," LeCroy said. "He was working ahead and kept the ball down. That was huge. He did what we are trying to teach ... to come in and shut the other team down after scoring runs. That gave us the momentum."

Mock got the feeling of pitching again quickly.

"Every guy you face wants to hit," he said. "That's not going to change. I threw quite a few pitches that I was encouraged with. They were getting their pitches to hit, but they were down in the zone and I got them to hit them into the ground."

Mock gave way in the fourth inning to Paul Applebee (3-4), who struggled through 2 1/3 scoreless innings but only allowed one hit while walking three and hitting two batters. Luis Garcia came in and allowed one hit over 1 1/3 innings before Rob Wort struck out the side in the ninth for his eighth save.

Ramirez led the Suns' seven-hit attack with two hits and an RBI.

Mock, who is 4-13 in his career with the Nationals, isn't sure of his schedule to return to Washington or when or where he will pitch again. The only thing he knows for sure -- or remembers -- is he will have a bullpen session with Double-A Harrisburg on Friday.

"I don't know what is ahead," he said. "I had my schedule in my pocket when I was traveling and I lost it. Some stewardess somewhere knows when I'll be pitching next."

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