Odds and ends from NatsFest

NatsFest is over. At least I’m pretty sure it is. The media work area in Salon D is windowless and removed from where all the action was earlier this afternoon. But a lot of the ushers and greeters and helpers have been parading through the adjacent room, and that’s a sure sign the paying customers have departed with a bunch of new curly W merchandise and Nationals memories to tide them over until spring training starts in a few weeks.

Before I head over to a happy hour at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, I’ll leave you with a few leftovers that haven’t made their way into other entries.

* Right fielder Jayson Werth says it’ll be 18 months - or pretty much the entire 2013 season - before he is fully recovered from the broken left wrist he sustained last May.

“It’s not as strong as I’d like it to be,” Werth said. “At the end of the season last year, that was one of the things I was dealing with - I didn’t have the strength. I’m told it will come back. It just takes time. The power numbers obviously weren’t there last year. Hopefully, they’ll be there this year. ... I feel confident I can play at a high level without the wrist at 100 percent.”

* Werth is excited about moving back to the middle of the order and into a run-producing slot in the batting order after hitting leadoff in 38 of his 81 games in 2012.

“I didn’t mind leading off last year,” he said. “I thought, with the personnel we had, it was best for our team. Obviously, if it was up to me, I want to hit in the middle of the order. It’s the best place for me. But with the guys we had, and just for our team, that was what was best for us. ... I was happy to do it.”

Werth has been toying with some ideas for lineups and said he has five or six different configurations to discuss with manager Davey Johnson.

* Saturday was the first opportunity for new center fielder Denard Span to meet with a lot of his Nationals teammates.

“I’ve talked to a few guys through text message, and I met Jayson Werth last week, but this is the first time I’ve got a chance to meet everybody and kind of mingle,” Span said. “You can tell (it’s) a good group of guys.”

Span is prepping himself for a lot of new come spring training.

“Honestly, I think it’s starting to hit me now,” he said of the deal that brought him to D.C. from the Twins. “This is the first day putting this uniform on. But I think it won’t hit me until I go down to spring training and realize I’m not in Fort Myers, putting on a new uniform and a new hat. It’s a new start for me. ... I’m ready for this new chapter in my life.”

* To a man, Nationals players were happy to see Martin Prado traded from the Braves to the Diamondbacks in the Justin Upton deal. Prado was 23-for-69 (.333) against Washington pitching last year and is a career .305 hitter against the Nats.

The trade earlier this week that brought Upton to Atlanta was a popular topic of conversations as Nats players were cycled through reporters and TV cameras. Most Nats seemed to welcome the increased competition.

“Everyone’s loading up,” said left-hander Gio Gonzalez. “We’re putting pieces in our puzzle, too.”

* When Dan Haren arrives at Space Coast Stadium for his first spring training with the Nationals, the right-hander will probably find himself throwing to a familiar target.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki, acquired last summer from the A’s in a deal to bolster the Nats’ catching depth, caught Haren in Oakland in 2007. Haren was 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA and a league-leading 34 starts in Suzuki’s rookie campaign.

“More than catching me, since he hasn’t caught me since 2007, I’ve faced him quite a bit when I was with L.A. and he was with Oakland,” Haren said. “So he kind of knows what I have and has seen multiple scouting reports on me. He knows my strengths and my weaknesses. It’s really important to have a good rapport with a catcher. As a starting pitcher, when things are going good, you get into a really nice rhythm with a catcher - to the point where you don’t even need to see the sign. You almost know what he’s going to call. We got to get close in spring. Hopefully, he’ll get to catch me.”

Haren threw a bullpen Friday before flying to D.C. for NatsFest. He’s thrown three or four bullpen sessions, but said he will dial back his workload because of the elongated spring training caused by the World Baseball Classic.

blog comments powered by Disqus