VIERA, Fla. - While the last few days have consisted of just some light workouts for the players who chose to arrive early to Nationals camp, today marks the first mandatory day in camp for pitchers and catchers.
All pitchers and catchers on the roster were expected to report that they were in the area by midnight last night, so as of this morning, we have yet to receive word on whether everyone expected to be here is, in fact, here. That said, I haven’t yet heard of any of the dreaded visa issues that seem to pop up throughout many camps, preventing guys from arriving on time.
The only pitchers and catchers on the Nationals’ 40-man roster that I haven’t yet seen are Dan Haren, Rafael Soriano and Yunesky Maya. That doesn’t mean they haven’t checked in at the Nats’ facilities yet; it just means that, you know, I haven’t seen them.
Pitchers and catchers who haven’t already had their physicals will get that taken care of today ahead of tomorrow’s first official workout. We’re scheduled to meet with manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo at various points today, although that could always change.
One of the few Nationals’ position players who has reported early is Ian Desmond, who actually arrived Thursday, more than a week before he needed to be in camp.
Desmond is coming off a career year, but one that saw him land on the disabled list for the first time since breaking into the big leagues in 2009. He battled an oblique injury for parts of last season, causing him to spend 25 games on the DL, and he also dealt with a hamstring issue later in the year.
Those two injuries led Desmond to spend much of the offseason focusing on his conditioning. He structured his workouts this winter specifically to target his core and lower body so that he won’t tire late in the season.
“I want to play as many games as I possibly can and be on the field to help my teammates throughout the course of the year,” Desmond said. “Sitting on the bench for that amount of time last year was not fun, but I think it was a little bit of a learning experience and I gave myself something to build on in the offseason.”
After a 25-homer, 73-RBI season that gave him the Silver Slugger award for National League shortstops, Desmond will go into the 2013 season looking to back up his offensive numbers from a year ago. There are those who might doubt whether Desmond can match the stellar campaign he put up in 2012, but if he can, he’ll firmly establish himself as one of the top shortstops in the game.
But if you think the 27-year-old is worried about his individual numbers this season, you aren’t too familiar with his baseball mentality.
“Team success builds personal success,” Desmond said. “I think if I go out and hit .250 this year and we win the World Series, I don’t think at the end of the year I’m gonna be mad by any means. I’m gonna come out and every situation, I’m gonna try to give it my best and try to answer the bell for what the team needs in that given at-bat, or on defense, or whatever it might be. I think at the end of the year the numbers will be what they’ll be.
“The ultimate goal now and in the future for this organization is to win a World Series. That’s my goal coming in and I think that’s the rest of the guys’ as well.”