Winter gives way to bright season for Nats

Here’s hoping every one of you has had it with this Winter as much as I have. Don’t get me wrong, a Florida guy like me likes the white stuff once in a while, but this last month has been riduculous!

Just the sight of Nats manager Jim Riggleman and some new faces among his coaching staff and the players reporting to spring training in Viera is enough for all of us to start getting ready for what I believe will be a terrific season in Washington.

I like the way Jim keeps his focus on the future and not the past. The future of this ballclub holds so much promise.

I’m not really much into predictions since no one knows what a ballclub can do when it comes to wins and losses. But one thing I do know - and I believe Nats fans share my feelings - is that this new edition of the Nationals will be a team full of enthusiasm, solid on fundamentals, and stocked with a mixture of youth and veterans all under the direction of manager Jim Riggleman, who gets to start the season with a clean slate.

You gotta love Riggleman, the local guy who has come home to get the opportunity of a lifetime, and my money is on Jim succeeding.

Take a look at the pitching staff we’ll get to see to start off the 2010 season: John Lannan, Craig Stammen, Jason Marquis, Scott Olsen, Ross Detwiler, JD Martin, Collin Balester, Garrett Mock, Shairon Martis, Brian Bruney, Matt Capps and Sean Burnett. Not to mention the $15 million man with the 100 mile an hour fastball in 21-year-old Stephen Strasburg, who will most likely start the season at Single-A Potomac before working his way up to the big club.

The Nats won’t be in a rush get Strasburg up to the big stage; it’s going to take some time, and that’s the way it should be. Once Stephen gets to Washington, watch the ticket venues pick up big time.

A healthy Nyjer Morgan will be a welcome sight. Is there a better lead-off batter in baseball than Tony Plush? Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham, Elijah Dukes, Pudge Rodriguez, Cristian Guzman, Jesus Flores, and Alberto Gonzalez are all solid performers who give the Nats power and speed.

General Manager Mike Rizzo has put together some terrific hires for the organization durng the offseason, among them Davey Johnson, Roy Clark and Ron Schueler.

This season begins year number four for Ray Knight and I to host Nats Xtra pre and post game shows on MASN. I could not ask for a better partner than the former MVP of the World Series, the Silver Fox. Ray is the best! As in the past, we look forward to visiting with you fans who stop by our set just inside the centerfield field gates and above the left field bullpen. I want you to know you are welcome to stick around for our shows anytime.

One final note, the Terps basketball season is winding down and it sure has been an exciting one. Grevious Vasquez and company have provided Maryland fans with plenty of thrills, among them that wild finish to beat Georgia Tech on Cliff Tucker’s three at the buzzer. I look to Gary Williams and the Terps to make some noise in postseason play.

See you at the ballpark!