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Nats finalize opening day roster

We knew this was coming, but the Nationals officially reassigned left-handed reliever J.C. Romero to minor league camp this afternoon, a move that finalizes their opening day 25-man roster. Romero will open the season in the bullpen at Triple-A Syracuse and serve as insurance in case of injury or if the Nats need more left-handed presence in their 'pen. The Nats will break camp with

Espinosa: "I feel like I can hit anybody"

Prior to the Nationals' exhibition game against the Yankees on Friday, with spring training all but over, I asked Danny Espinosa when the last time was that his left-handed swing had felt as good as it currently does. "More than two years," Espinosa responded. "Since I've been in the big leagues. By far." When Dr. Lewis Yocum, perhaps the leader in treatment for shoulder and

Owings feels strong spring validated change to position player

If Micah Owings had any doubts at all that he'd made the right decision by opting to become a position player after six big league seasons as a pitcher, those doubts were erased this spring. Owings came into camp knowing he had a tough task ahead of him as he pursued a bit of a career change, putting aside bullpen sessions and instead working on

Getting in on the extension action

It's a pretty good time to be a talented major league baseball player. OK, there isn't ever really a bad time to be a talented major league ballplayer, but given the contract extensions we've seen handed out over the last couple of days, there's no better time than now to be able to throw in the mid-90s or be a young, skilled position player. A

Various notes on Rodriguez, Garcia, catchers and more

I'm back in the press box at Nationals Park, perched high - and I mean high - above field level. After two months of press boxes in spring training parks where we were practically right on top of the action, this view is pretty jarring. Tough life, I know. I just seriously feel like I'm in the clouds right now. A bunch of changes have

Back in the district

No more "Viera, Fla. - ..." dateline. What a beautiful sight. I'm back in the mid-Atlantic region, where the temperature isn't really that much colder than it was on the east coast of Florida. The Nationals arrived back in D.C. last night and will take on the Yankees at 2 p.m. this afternoon at Nats Park, an exhibition that will serve as the final chance

Johnson wraps up Nats' Grapefruit League season (plus cuts)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals' Grapefruit League season is over. The bags in the home clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium are all packed and the players are dressed and ready for their flight up to D.C. Thirty-three spring training games are in the books. Only tomorrow's exhibition against the Yankees at Nats Park and two days off stand between the Nationals and the 2013 regular

Gonzalez's final regular season tune-up a strong one (Nats win 5-1)

VIERA, Fla. - It's 5-1 Nationals here in the eighth inning at Space Coast Stadium in what's turned into a minor league game. Neil Holland, who spent nearly all of last season at high Single-A Potomac, has worked the last two innings for the Nats. Remarkably, despite having been with the Nationals for two full springs now, Gio Gonzalez hadn't made a start at Space

LaRoche, Espinosa homer before starters exit

VIERA, Fla. - There weren't too many called strikes taken by Nationals hitters in their final Grapefruit League at-bats this afternoon. Everyone is eager to get the heck out of here and make their way up to D.C. The Nationals attacked Mets starter Domingo Tapia today, pouncing on early pitches in the zone and doing some damage with them. Adam LaRoche crushed a solo homer

Harper back in Nats lineup, Werth not

VIERA, Fla. - After getting his second game off in a five-day span in order to rest a sore left thumb, Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals lineup for today's Grapefruit League finale against the Mets. Harper sat out yesterday's game against the Braves after getting jammed the day prior in a two-hit performance in Jupiter. He said his thumb felt better when he

Barring a change, Rodriguez will grab final spot in Nats bullpen

VIERA, Fla. - Yesterday, we learned that both Henry Rodriguez and J.C. Romero would make the trip to D.C. with the Nationals following this afternoon's Grapefruit League finale, leaving the two relievers in the mix for the final spot in the Nats' bullpen. Today, manager Davey Johnson said that unless Rodriguez suffers some kind of injury when he appears in tomorrow's exhibition game against the

Relievers' lofty spring ERAs not a concern in Nats camp

VIERA, Fla. - It's here. The final day of spring training is here. Boy, these seven weeks really have flown by. I'm kidding. They really haven't. It's time to get out of here and get some meaningful games under way. I've jammed all my clothes into a couple bags, left some condiments in the fridge in my hotel room and am about to head out

His spring complete, Detwiler will play the waiting game

VIERA, Fla. - Add Ross Detwiler to the lengthy list of Nationals players who can't wait for the regular season to start. "Beautiful Viera, where the wind always blows out," Detwiler joked as reporters approached him in the Nationals' clubhouse after today's outing. Detwiler's final tune-up before the regular season was a pretty solid one. He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, both on

Zimmerman, Ramos discuss their power display

VIERA, Fla. - Eight home runs were hit at Space Coast Stadium today. Five of those eight came off the collective bats of Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos. Zimmerman crushed three home runs in a three-at-bat span this afternoon, giving him four longballs on the spring and boosting his Grapefruit League average to .308. Each year, Zimmerman says he needs 50 at-bats in spring to

No decision yet on final bullpen spot (Abad, Maldonado cut)

VIERA, Fla. - Following this afternoon's 11-2 split-squad win over the Braves, the Nationals made two cuts, sending left-hander Fernando Abad and catcher Carlos Maldonado over to minor league camp. Abad, who came into camp competing for a spot in the bullpen, impressed this spring. He went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in eight appearances spanning seven innings. Maldonado was 3-for-13 (.231) with a double

Ramos making a late case for the opening day catching job (Nats win 11-2)

VIERA, Fla. - Wilson Ramos is having himself a ballgame. And with opening day now just five days away, you have to wonder whether it will influence manager Davey Johnson's decision on who will be his opening day catcher. Ramos has crushed two home runs today - one to right field in the third inning and one way out to left field in the fourth

Strasburg gets in his final work of spring, final cuts coming soon

VIERA, Fla. - Instead of making the trip all the way to Jupiter to throw just a few meaningless innings the day before the Nationals leave Florida, Stephen Strasburg got in his final spring frames over on the minor league side today. Facing a lineup made up of members of the Nats' Triple-A team, Strasburg's outing was largely uneventful. He allowed back-to-back softly hit singles

Harper out of Nats lineup, not concerned about sore thumb (with lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals lineup today doesn't have Bryce Harper's name in it, and tomorrow's might not, as well. Harper is dealing with some inflammation in his left thumb after getting jammed by a pitch yesterday. While Harper says the thumb feels better today than it did after he left yesterday's game against the Marlins, he will get a day off today and the

Zimmerman discusses his throwing, Nats craving meaningful games

VIERA, Fla. - Watch Ryan Zimmerman warm up his arm in between innings of spring games with throws across the diamond, and it's clear that his adjusted throwing motion is still a bit of a work in progress. Some throws skip into the dirt, short-hopping first baseman Adam LaRoche. Some throws are wide, pulling LaRoche off the bag. Two straight warm-up tosses before the bottom

Despite the numbers, Haren says he's ready, confident

JUPITER, Fla. - It's been somewhat of an ongoing theme this spring: Dan Haren pitches pretty well, but has one bad inning or makes a few bad pitches and his stat line suffers, making it look as if he's getting bashed all around the park. Today, Haren worked six innings, allowing seven hits and five earned runs. He allowed four home runs - two off

Sore thumb could lead to a couple of days off for Harper

JUPITER, Fla. - You sure wouldn't know it by looking at his recent numbers, but Bryce Harper is still dealing with a sore left thumb, and it might force him out of the Nationals lineup for a few days. Harper initially injured his thumb Friday against the Tigers when he got jammed by a Drew Smyly pitch. After getting a day off Saturday, Harper has

Harper's spring streak continues (Nats lose)

JUPITER, Fla. - Bryce Harper's day is done after 4 1/2 innings of work, and while it's just spring, Marlins pitchers probably couldn't be happier that the Nationals left fielder is out of the game. Harper is on an absolute tear right now, as evidenced by the fact that he's reached base in 10 straight plate appearances. Nine of those 10 trips to the plate

If Young leaves, Duke will step into sixth starter's role (with lineups)

JUPITER, Fla. - As I mentioned earlier, Sports Illustrated has picked the Nationals to win the World Series. Your thoughts, Davey Johnson? "I don't care. It's nice," Johnson said. "Better than being picked to come in last." The Nationals have known for a little while now that Chris Young would almost certainly be opting out of his minor league contract and seeing whether he could

Nats grant Chris Young his unconditional release

JUPITER, Fla. - It's not much of a surprise, but Chris Young is now a free agent. The Nationals have granted Young his unconditional release, this after the veteran right-hander chose to opt out of his minor league deal following his start last night in Kissimmee. The Nats had 24 hours to place Young on their 25-man roster after the 33-year-old opted out, but they

What's left to accomplish in Florida?

VIERA, Fla. - If you don't happen to follow me on Twitter - and if you don't, what the heck are you waiting for? - this is what we had to deal with during the middle innings of last night's Nationals-Astros game. I feel like I'm fortunate to have made it out of that stadium alive. Of the seven Sports Illustrated writers polled on their

Johnson talks Young, Rodriguez's shaky inning, Romero's debut

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Because he had a handful of relievers needing to get in their work, Davey Johnson limited Chris Young to just four innings in tonight's 6-4 loss to the Astros. He liked what he saw in those four innings, though. And really, the Nationals have liked what they've seen from Young all spring. The veteran right-hander allowed just one uneared run on two

Young opts out of deal with Nats, says he wants to return (Nats lose)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Shortly after allowing just one unearned run over four strong innings tonight against the Astros, Chris Young said that he has opted out of his minor league deal with the Nationals. The Nats now have 24 hours to place Young on the 25-man roster - which is incredibly unlikely - or the veteran right-hander will become a free agent. Young, 33, again

Young strong again, LaRoche heating up, Rodriguez being Rodriguez

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Dating to March 14, Chris Young has now worked 12 straight innings without allowing an earned run. Some big league team out there has a hole in its rotation, and that team might be wise to take a shot on this 6-foot-10 right-hander. Young held the Astros to two hits and an unearned run through four innings tonight, and if not for

Elbow soreness behind him, Rodriguez will pitch tonight (plus rotation notes)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Yesterday morning, Davey Johnson reported that Henry Rodriguez was dealing with some soreness in his right elbow, which the Nationals right-hander had operated on last August to clean up a bone spur. Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo both said they weren't worried about Rodriguez's health, but any time you're talking about elbow soreness for a pitcher, especially one just seven months

Nats-Astros lineups and a few notes

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Kyle Lohse finally has a team. I guess his days of throwing simulated games against community college squads are over. Lohse agreed to a three-year, $33 million deal with the Brewers, according to reports. He'll now have a solid week to get to know his teammates before opening day. Former Nats starter John Lannan got smacked around a bit today. The Phillies

Some of this, some of that

VIERA, Fla. - After more than five long months of waiting, we only have to wait a bit longer. Opening day is just one week away. Only four more Grapefruit League games down here in Florida (not that anyone's counting or anything), an exhibition against the Yankees at Nationals Park and two off-days stand between the Nationals and their 2013 regular season opener against the

Garcia lands on DL, Rivero outrighted to Triple-A

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals made a couple of roster moves after today's rain-shortened game, placing right-hander Christian Garcia on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm tendon injury and outrighting infielder Carlos Rivero to Triple-A Syracuse. Garcia's DL stint is retroactive to March 22. Rivero had to clear waivers for the Nationals to outright him to Triple-A, and him doing so is a

Hearing from Zimmermann, Harper after rain-shortened win

VIERA, Fla. - The infield here at Space Coast Stadium is currently one giant lake. The grounds crew wasn't able to get the big tarp onto the field before the skies opened up in the top of the eighth inning this afternoon, and the Braves-Nationals game was called with the Nationals officially picking up a 9-3 win after seven innings of play. Jordan Zimmermann battled

Rosenbaum returned to Nats, Zimmmermann done after six (game called in eighth)

VIERA, Fla. - Within two days, the Nationals have gotten back both players they lost in the Rule 5 draft this offseason. The Tigers returned infielder Jeff Kobernus to the Nats yesterday, and today, a source confirmed that left-hander Danny Rosenbaum has been returned by the Rockies. Rosenbaum spent last season at Double-A Harrisburg, going 8-10 with a 3.94 ERA. The 25-year-old went 2-1 with

Zimmermann keeps cruising, Harper keeps raking

VIERA, Fla. - Think Jordan Zimmermann is ready for games that actually mean something? The guy just finished off a stretch where he had retired 27 hitters in between base hits allowed. Working through a stiff cross wind that is blowing around 25 mph, Zimmermann went the first three innings without surrendering a hit to the Braves this afternoon, facing the minimum over that span.

Rodriguez battling elbow soreness, Harper good to play (with lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - You never know what information will come out of an interview session with Davey Johnson. Today, reporters learned that former Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger never wore a cup. Don't ask how we got there. We also learned that Henry Rodriguez has hit a bit of a snag in his spring throwing progression, and the question now is whether it will at all

Young yet to make a decision on future with Nats

VIERA, Fla. - Chris Young is going to wait at least another day before deciding whether to opt out of his minor league contract with the Nationals. Under the terms of his current deal, Young could choose to opt out of his contract with the Nats today and search for a big league deal on the free agent market, but instead, he's planning on making

Scanning the spring stats (with Young note)

VIERA, Fla. - Stats mean very little in spring. We know this. Ask a player about his sub-par spring training numbers, you're bound to get an eye-roll and a "C'mon, man!" type of look. On the flip side, what's a .375 spring batting average get you? Unless you're competing for a roster spot or a starting job, it'll get you a whole lot of nothing,

Kobernus returned to Nationals

VIERA, Fla. - Oh, hey there. I'm back. After a few days home, I've returned to Viera ready for the final stretch. The Nats now have just five more days down here before shipping up north to take on the Yankees in an exhibition game at Nationals Park on March 29, and I'll have you covered the rest of the way. Big thanks to Pete

Three Nats, one inning, nine pitches, three strikeouts

VIERA, Fla. - A two-run loss to the Dominican Republic two nights ago and a one-run loss to Puerto Rico last night, and that's it for Team USA. The World Baseball Classic is over for the American squad. Team USA will not be a part of the semifinal round, with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Japan and the Netherlands making up the four teams left

Haren: "I had slop out there. It was embarrassing" (plus Johnson quotes)

JUPITER, Fla. - Dan Haren sure doesn't sugarcoat things. The veteran right-hander allowed five runs on six hits over five frames today in a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals, and as reporters approached to ask about his outing, Haren cracked a smile and tossed out a few obscenities. With his typical brutally honest and incredibly self-aware style, he then started delving into his issues on

Haren hit around in the first (Nats lose)

JUPITER, Fla. - Five batters into the bottom of the first inning here at Roger Dean Stadium, it was already 4-0 Cardinals. Dan Haren gave up a solo home run to Jon Jay on a 3-2 pitch to open the game, marking the second straight day a Nationals starter surrendered a leadoff homer. Chris Young did the same yesterday. Haren then gave up back-to-back singles

Zimmerman could make spring debut at third base tomorrow (rotation notes)

JUPITER, Fla. - Joe Namath is in the house today at Roger Dean Stadium. The New York Jets legend, who apparently lives nearby, walked onto the field right as the Nationals started taking batting practice, and stood near the cage with former Orioles star and MASN broadcaster Jim Palmer. Davey Johnson and Steve McCatty both came up to the group at various points to chat

Nats, Cardinals lineups

JUPITER, Fla. - We've got a pretty good pitching matchup here at Roger Dean Stadium today, as Dan Haren and Adam Wainwright will take the mound this afternoon. The Nationals faced Wainwright here back on March 2 and smacked him around to the tune of five runs (four earned) on eight hits over three innings. Haren has looked pretty sharp this spring, and has felt

Some of this, some of that

VIERA, Fla. - Ross Detwiler was on normal rest yesterday, but the Nationals left-hander didn't get the call during Team USA's 3-1 loss to the Dominican Republic in last night's World Baseball Classic. Team USA starter R.A. Dickey went five innings in the loss, so there wasn't much need for another multiple-inning guy. Manager Joe Torre went to five different relievers last night, none of

Johnson on Young and Owings: "Those are veteran guys who are opening some eyes"

VIERA, Fla. - Chris Young provided a solid four innings on the mound, Micah Owings provided the pop. The Nationals beat the Astros 6-3 this afternoon in large part due to the efforts of a 33-year-old pitcher and a 30-year-old pitcher-turned-position-player who are both in camp on minor league deals. Young threw four innings of one-run ball this afternoon. Outside of a leadoff homer that

Owings goes yard, Young happy with his progress (Nats win)

VIERA, Fla. - Micah Owings' power is as advertised. Owings crushed a grand slam way out to right field in the seventh inning, his second home run of spring, giving the Nationals a 6-3 lead. A former pitcher attempting to make the transition to a position player, Owings has really impressed with his bat this spring. He now is batting .368 in 19 at-bats, and

Young's done, Werth homers, Zimmerman continues to impress (Soriano update)

VIERA, Fla. - After his last spring outing, his first in a Nationals uniform, Chris Young called his performance "erratic," saying that he would follow up a solid string of pitches with a handful of disappointing pitches in a row. Young was a little better today, bouncing back from surrendering a leadoff homer to open the game and throwing four solid innings. The veteran right-hander

More on the catching competition

VIERA, Fla. - Earlier today, I wrote about Wilson Ramos working his way back into the conversation about who should be the Nationals' starting catcher on opening day. Until recently, it hadn't actually been much of a conversation. The job was Kurt Suzuki's, both because of the way Suzuki performed down the stretch last season and also because Ramos wasn't expected to be ready to

Johnson discusses Rendon's role this season, other cuts

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals officially sent seven players to minor league camp today, a group that includes infielders Anthony Rendon and Matt Skole and right-hander Nathan Karns. None of those three had a legitimate chance to make the Nationals' 25-man roster out of spring training, but all three still made good use of their time in big league camp. Rendon was the one who

Rendon among Nats' cuts (updated with more cuts)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals sent four more players over to minor league camp this morning, according to a team source: infielders Anthony Rendon and Matt Skole, right-hander Nathan Karns and left-hander Pat McCoy. Update: In addition to the four players listed above, infielder Will Rhymes, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Eury Perez have also been sent to minor league camp, manager Davey Johnson announced.

Ramos putting himself in the conversation for opening day starting job

VIERA, Fla. - Chris Young will get his second start of spring this afternoon as the Nationals host the Astros at Space Coast Stadium. Those in attendance this afternoon will also get to catch Rafael Soriano, Henry Rodriguez and Tyler Clippard, all three of whom are scheduled to take the mound today. Young will be throwing to Wilson Ramos, who will be behind the plate

Harper not getting carried away by red-hot spring

VIERA, Fla. - It would appear that Bryce Harper is as locked in as locked in can be right now. The Nationals left fielder has 16 hits in 36 spring at-bats, good for a .444 average. After pulling a three-run home run over the right-center field fence today, Harper has three homers, two doubles and a triple this spring. He's slugging a ridiculous .806 in

Johnson on Storen, Harper, Ramos and more after Nats' 8-5 win

VIERA, Fla. - So much for that dead-arm phase that Jordan Zimmermann was going through. Two days after notching a hole-in-one during a team par-3 team golf tournament, the first ace of his life, Zimmermann found a pretty good groove on the mound against the Mets, allowing just one earned run (three runs total) over 4 2/3 innings, with six strikeouts. "Jordan threw the heck

Harper still streaking in spring (Nats beat Mets 8-5, beat Astros 9-7)

VIERA, Fla. - Not that kind of streaking. Take it easy. Bryce Harper continues to hit the cover off the baseball this spring, only elevating expectations for what could be to come in his second major league season. Harper crushed a three-run homer off Mets right-hander Matt Harvey in the first inning today, smoking a ball over the advertisements above the right-center field wall. It

Gonzalez lining up to start WBC title game, cuts looming for Nats (plus notes and lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - Should Team USA advance to the championship game of the World Baseball Classic, Nationals manager Davey Johnson says Gio Gonzalez will get the ball. Johnson said today that he's been informed that Gonzalez will be in line to pitch the title game, if Team USA does indeed get that far. Gonzalez would be pitching on six days' rest, two more than pitchers

Stephen Strasburg named Nats' opening day starter

VIERA, Fla. - In no way is this a surprise, but Stephen Strasburg will be the Nationals' opening day starter for the second straight season. It's been clear for some time now that Strasburg was lining up to get the ball for April 1 against the Marlins at Nationals Park. Strasburg's spring training pitching schedule has him set to be on normal rest come April

Werth talks tracking pitches, improved strength in wrist

VIERA, Fla. - It's been a little more than 10 months since Jayson Werth broke his left wrist sliding for a ball in right field during a game against his former team. Since that May 6 game against the Phillies, Werth has rehabbed the wrist, returned to a major league diamond and shown that he can still produce at a high level even without being

Gonzalez leads Team USA to WBC win over Puerto Rico

VIERA, Fla. - It certainly doesn't compare to the intensity level of his two starts in the National League Division Series last October, in which he allowed five runs and 11 walks in 10 innings. But in his first true competitive outing in nearly five months, and in a pretty big spot on an international stage, Gio Gonzalez delivered a stellar performance. Gonzalez pitched five

Not many negatives to be found during Nats' first month in Viera

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals have their second off-day this spring today, which allows the players a chance to play in their annual golf tournament. I'll try and pass along who won at some point tomorrow, but we do know it won't be Davey Johnson. The Nationals manager - a scratch golfer who plays as often as he can during spring - joked that the

Suzuki on Strasburg, Strasburg on the stretch

VIERA, Fla. - There isn't a stadium radar gun at Space Coast Stadium, but Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki said he was pretty sure Stephen Strasburg was throwing in the 95-97 mph range today in the right-hander's fourth start of spring. "Easy," Suzuki said, indicating Strasburg was bringing heat without using much effort. "So easy." Strasburg dominated through his first five innings of work today before

Johnson on Strasburg, Duke and Rodriguez after 7-2 loss

VIERA, Fla. - Outside of a Carlos Rivero RBI groundout and a Tyler Moore solo home run in the ninth inning, the Nationals were shut down today by a group of Braves hurlers led by Paul Maholm. Maholm held the Nats scoreless over five strong innings, striking out five, and the Nats fell to Atlanta 7-2. Had Stephen Strasburg been pulled after five innings, he

Strasburg totally locked in vs. Braves (Nats lose 7-2)

VIERA, Fla. - When I looked at Stephen Strasburg's stat line before today's game, I was surprised how inflated it was. Through his first three outings this spring, Strasburg had a 5.19 ERA, having allowed five runs in 8 2/3 innings, with 11 hits, three walks and 13 strikeouts. That's why spring stat lines mean almost nothing. Strasburg had been much better than his numbers

A few pregame notes plus Wednesday's split-squad update

VIERA, Fla. - In case you missed it over the weekend, former Nationals manager Manny Acta has joined ESPN as a bilingual analyst. Acta had the reins in D.C. from 2007-09 and spent the last three seasons as the manager of the Indians, compiling a record of 214-266. He has said that he hopes to get back into a big league dugout in the near

Karns to get X-ray on leg, Garcia getting closer to throwing (plus lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - When Davey Johnson sat down for his pregame session with reporters late this morning, the Netherlands was tied with Cuba in the bottom of the ninth inning of its elimination game in the World Baseball Classic. By the time Johnson's session had ended, the Netherlands had won on a walk-off sacrifice fly. Johnson, who managed the Netherlands in the 2004 Summer Olympics,

Gonzalez gets his shot, Haren gets in-depth about his stuff

VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez will actually get a chance to put on a Team USA jersey. For a while there, Team USA looked like it might get bounced from the World Baseball Classic early, failing to make it out of pool play and leaving Gonzalez without an opportunity to pitch in the tournament. Instead, the Americans made a late comeback against Team Canada yesterday,

Haren adding to his repertoire against right-handed hitters

LAKELAND, Fla. - Even pitchers entering their 11th major league season come into spring training looking to add to their repertoire. Dan Haren is by far the most accomplished pitcher in the Nationals' rotation, with 119 career wins and three All-Star Games on his resume. He holds the fifth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in major league history. But that doesn't mean that he isn't trying to add

Johnson pleased with Haren, Storen and Skole in 2-1 loss

LAKELAND, Fla. - It was a fairly uneventful afternoon from an offensive perspective here at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Nationals and Tigers combined for three runs on 11 hits in a 2-1 Detroit win, and all four of the hits in the Nats' column were singles. From a pitching perspective, however, Davey Johnson saw a bunch of positives. Dan Haren went four strong innings, allowing

Haren looks good in third start of spring (Nats lose 2-1)

LAKELAND, Fla. - If not for a couple defensive miscues in the second inning, Dan Haren might have had a pretty darn impressive outing. Instead, it was just pretty impressive. We'll leave out the "darn." Haren allowed two runs on five hits with two strikeouts over four innings, and he gives way to Drew Storen to start the fifth. Making his third start of spring,

Pregame notes and lineups from Lakeland

LAKELAND, Fla. - Nationals manager Davey Johnson saw yesterday's brawl between Canada and Mexico in the World Baseball Classic and like most of us, was a bit shocked that things got to that point. "We've come close when I was managing the U.S. against Mexico, but we never got that far," Johnson said. "That was a little over the top." If you haven't seen the

Detwiler dominates, Zimmerman pleased with spring progress

VIERA, Fla. - How about Ross Detwiler? Making his World Baseball Classic debut last night, Detwiler worked four crucial innings, allowing just one hit and a walk with three strikeouts as Team USA beat Italy 6-2. Detwiler came on in the sixth and went the final four innings, locking things down for the Americans. The left-hander threw 51 pitches, 36 for strikes, and not only

Johnson on Zimmerman, Young, Walters and Stammen after 8-7 win

VIERA, Fla. - It hasn't taken long for Ryan Zimmerman to get his swing back after offseason shoulder surgery. With his 3-for-3 performance today against the Marlins, Zimmerman is now 6-for-12 on the spring with two extra-base hits. One of the two is a home run, which Zimmerman crushed off Marlins lefty Brad Hand in the fifth inning this afternoon to tie the game 6-6.

Young discusses his first spring start (Nats win)

VIERA, Fla. - Zach Walters just crushed his second homer in as many games, a deep shot out to right-center that gave the Nationals the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Carlos Rivero added an RBI single later in the inning, giving the Nats an 8-6 lead going to the ninth. Given Chris Young's line today in his spring debut (3 IP, 3 H,

Young done after three so-so innings (Harper, Zimmerman go back-to-back)

VIERA, Fla. - Chris Young wasn't awful in his first Grapefruit League start this spring. He wasn't great, either. Great analysis, I know. Young worked three innings this afternoon, allowing three runs on three hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Threes were wild. At times, the 35-year-old right-hander lost complete command of the strike zone. He issued a four-pitch walk to open the game

A new nickname for McCatty, plus Karns confident leg issues are minor

VIERA, Fla. - Davey Johnson debuted a new nickname for Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty today: "Mother Hen McCatty." "He likes to have (his pitchers) close and at hand," Johnson said, breaking out into a giant smile. Johnson joked that "Mother Hen" didn't handle yesterday's beatdown by the Cardinals too well. "After giving up 16 runs yesterday, he had a hard day yesterday and a

Ohman granted his release, plus Werth and Garcia updates

VIERA, Fla. - Bill Bray has reported to the Nationals' minor league camp after being reassigned on Sunday, but Will Ohman has not. Ohman, who also was reassigned to minor league camp, requested and was granted his unconditional release. The 35-year-old, who made just one spring appearance with the Nats, allowing two hits and two walks in an inning of work, is now a free

Gonzalez's WBC outing not a certainty

VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez might not get a chance to represent his country after all. In a bit of a shocker, a stacked Team USA lost to Mexico in the first round of play in the World Baseball Classic last night. Adrian Gonzalez (who was born in the United States, mind you) hit a two-run homer off R.A. Dickey and the Mexican team scored

In his spring debut, Henry Rodriguez feels "like the old Henry"

VIERA, Fla. - It was just eight pitches, but for Henry Rodriguez and the Nationals, it was a big step in the right direction. Rodriguez worked one inning in this afternoon's 16-10 loss, setting the Cardinals down in order in the sixth. The hard-throwing righty threw eight pitches, seven of which were strikes, in retiring J.R. Towles, Ryan Jackson and Greg Garcia. This was Rodriguez's

Zimmermann battling dead arm, Karns to get examined for leg injury

VIERA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann didn't really look like himself this afternoon in the Nationals' 16-10 loss to the Cardinals. Neither did Nathan Karns. There might be a reason for that. Zimmermann gave up eight runs on nine hits over three innings, while Karns surrendered seven runs (one earned) in just 2/3 of an inning. According to manager Davey Johnson, both guys were battling medical

Rodriguez delivers a scoreless debut, Zimmermann discusses his rocky outing (Nats lose)

VIERA, Fla. - While Jordan Zimmermann and Nathan Karns took a beating today for the Nationals, Rafael Soriano and Henry Rodriguez delivered scoreless innings in relief. Rodriguez, making his spring debut after working back from elbow surgery and some biceps tightness, pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning this afternoon, and needed just eight pitches to do so. Manager Davey Johnson had originally planned to give the

Zimmermann rocked in his third spring outing (so is Karns)

VIERA, Fla. - As Dan Haren noted the other day, when pitchers look good in spring training outings, they'll talk about how great they felt. When they get smacked around in spring training outings, they'll talk about how they were just working on stuff. Jordan Zimmermann was just working on stuff today. Zimmermann got smacked around in his three innings of work this afternoon, allowing

Nats holding out hope Garcia could be ready by opening day

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals have a bit of a policy when it comes to pitchers working back from injuries: They need to rehab one day for every day that they were shut down. Christian Garcia first felt discomfort in his right wrist/forearm during a bullpen session Feb. 17 and last threw on Feb. 21. He's been shut down ever since, after doctors determined that

Final bullpen spot is Rodriguez's to lose

VIERA, Fla. - Six spots in the Nationals' bullpen are already set, barring injury, leaving an opening for just one more arm. Henry Rodriguez, Fernando Abad, Cole Kimball and Christian Garcia have been mentioned as candidates for that final bullpen spot this spring. But in manager Davey Johnson's mind, the job is Rodriguez's to lose. Asked today what he needs to see from Rodriguez this

Bulk of Nats' regulars in lineup vs. Cardinals

VIERA, Fla. - Roger Bernadina went 0-for-3 with a walk, but the Netherlands beat Cuba 6-3 last night in the opening second-round game of the World Baseball Classic. Orioles infield prospect Jonathan Schoop blasted a three-run homer and Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons had two hits as the Netherlands continued its hot play to start the WBC. Team USA opens play at 9 p.m. tonight as

Catching up with Micah Owings

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals and Cardinals square off again today, marking the third time in six days these two teams have seen each other. This is what happens these days when your spring training facilities are on the east coast of Florida. It'll be Jordan Zimmermann getting the start for the Nationals, with an interesting group of pitchers following him to the mound: Rafael

Johnson on Harper, Gonzalez, Storen and Mattheus

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Prior to today, I can't recall ever seeing a left fielder make a throw all the way to first base because a runner had made a wide turn around the bag. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was Bryce Harper who gave that throw a shot this afternoon, firing a strike about 250 feet from medium-depth left field to Tyler Moore at first, in

Hearing from Gonzalez after his three strong innings (Nats lose 4-2)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Drew Storen pitched a scoreless inning for the Nationals, allowing an infield single and a base knock to left but striking out two in the seventh. The Nationals then knotted the score at 2-2 in the eighth on Michael Taylor's two-run single to center, but Ryan Mattheus surrendered two runs in the bottom half of the inning, putting the Astros back up

Gonzalez's final tune-up before WBC a solid one

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Ideally, Gio Gonzalez would have worked four or five innings against the Astros this afternoon, allowing him to build up arm strength while getting a chance to face as many live hitters as possible before leaving to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Instead, Gonzalez worked just three innings against Houston, throwing 42 pitches (27 strikes) before giving way

Notes on Gonzalez's pitch limit, rotation possibilities

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The World Baseball Classic has established fairly strict pitch-limit rules in order to avoid pitchers getting overused during the tournament. Some of these rules are incredibly tough to understand. The language is very dense, and even after reading over the pitch-limit restrictions a few times, I still don't completely have a grasp of how they should be interpreted. It sounds like Team

Nats-Astros lineups as Gonzalez makes final pre-WBC start

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Jayson Werth chose not to get into the Nationals-Phillies fray this morning. I swung by the Nationals complex at Space Coast Stadium before making the drive here for this afternoon's game against the Astros, and checked in with Werth to see if he had anything to offer after yesterday's incident involving Stephen Strasburg, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Tyler Moore. Werth, who

A few additional takeaways from yesterday's incident in Clearwater

VIERA, Fla. - At one point late yesterday afternoon, after the Nationals-Phillies game had ended, interviews had been completed and reporters had all made our way back up to the press box to work on our postgame stories, I turned to another local writer and asked him if he had any idea what the final score of the game was. About five minutes later, one

More from Strasburg, plus Rendon discusses his hot spring

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Now that we've gotten all the dramatic stuff out of the way ... Outside of the fastball to Chase Utley that nailed the Phillies second baseman in the left ankle, Stephen Strasburg was pretty pleased with his stuff and his outing overall. Strasburg allowed two runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one. He threw 67

Johnson, Moore, Manuel discuss Nationals-Phillies incident

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg hit Chase Utley on the left ankle. Roy Halladay threw behind Tyler Moore. Strasburg said he had no reason to hit Utley. Halladay said the pitch to Moore slipped. Then Halladay smiled. What was set up to be another quiet Grapefruit League game between the Phillies regulars and a Nationals lineup made up primarily of minor leaguers turned a bit

Nationals-Phillies rivalry ratchets up another notch

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Nationals and Phillies have had some interesting interactions over the years. John Lannan hit Chase Utley with a pitch in a 2007 start, breaking Utley's hand. Lannan was ejected from that game, which was his first major league start. Last season, Bryce Harper was drilled in the back by Cole Hamels, who acknowledged after the game that he hit Harper intentionally.

Strasburg done, Halladay throws behind Moore (Rendon homers again)

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Davey Johnson tried to give Stephen Strasburg four full innings of work this afternoon, but after Strasburg gave up a two-out single and a walk in the fourth, "Captain Hook" came trotting out of the dugout to get his right-handed starter. Strasburg finishes his third spring outing having allowed two runs on five hits. He walked one, struck out six, hit a

Now in a Phillies uniform, Lannan holds no grudges against Nats

CLEARWATER, Fla. - When Nationals manager Davey Johnson saw John Lannan in a Phillies uniform during warm-ups on the field at Bright House Field late this morning, he had a message for his former starter. "You look like (expletive) in that uniform," Johnson told Lannan. Lannan's response to reporters a little bit later, while chatting in the Phillies clubhouse: "He's gonna have to get used

Johnson closing in on an opening day starting lineup (with Nats, Phillies lineups)

CLEARWATER, Fla. - After using up about half a tank of gas on the trek across Florida, I've arrived at Bright House Field for today's Nationals-Phillies Grapefruit League contest that will feature two of the game's best pitchers. Stephen Strasburg and Roy Halladay will toe the mound today, and while Strasburg will face a Phillies lineup filled with major leaguers, Halladay won't get that luxury.

New offensive approach paying dividends for Espinosa

VIERA, Fla. - Word down here in the south is that you fine folks back up in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia areas are about to be hit by a decent little snow storm. Hope everyone stays safe up there and doesn't have too much hatred toward me for being in 75-degree weather right about now. If it makes you feel any better, I'm just about to take

Clippard talks about his curve, Zimmerman talks about his throwing

VIERA, Fla. - Earlier in his career, when Tyler Clippard was a starter in the Yankees' system, he complemented his fastball and change-up with a curveball, a pitch that he was able to throw consistently because he'd obviously work multiple innings at a time. Clippard made the switch to a long reliever a few years ago, and now that he's in his current role as

Johnson on Haren, Soriano and Clippard (Purke sent to minor league camp)

VIERA, Fla. - Following today's 7-1 win over the Astros, the Nationals optioned left-hander Matt Purke to low-A Hagerstown. Purke, who is recovering from shoulder surgery he underwent last summer, will head over to minor league camp to continue his rehab. The 2011 third-round pick has been throwing bullpen sessions every Tuesday and Friday at about 50 percent effort. "His rehab is coming along great,

Soriano throws a scoreless inning, Haren discusses his start (Nats win)

VIERA, Fla. - Rafael Soriano just faced three hitters in a scoreless seventh inning, throwing 12 pitches (seven strikes) and striking out Astros outfielder Robbie Grossman to end the frame. Making his Grapefruit League debut with the Nationals, Soriano gave up a flyout to deep center off the bat of Justin Maxwell, then allowed a single to J.D. Martinez, which bounced off the glove of

Haren and Ramos both look sharp vs. Astros

VIERA, Fla. - Dan Haren worked both sides of the plate, mixed in some sharp off-speed stuff and cut his way through the Astros' lineup through his first two innings of work this afternoon. Haren retired the first six Astros hitters he faced, not letting a ball out of the infield in that time, before hitting a bit of a bump in the third. The

Bo Porter is back

VIERA, Fla. - Bo Porter spent much of the late morning walking around the field inside Space Coast Stadium, giving friendly handshakes and dishing out big hugs. The Astros' new manager, who spent the last two years with the Nationals as the team's third base coach, is back in Viera today to play his former team. As the Nats took batting practice, Porter weaved his

Soriano makes his debut today, Ramos behind the plate (with lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Davey Johnson used yesterday's off-day the same way many of use spend our days away from the job: He got stuff done around the house. Johnson went back to his home in the Orlando area and took care of a couple "dangerous jobs," including replacing a handful of light bulbs that were 24 feet off the ground. He got through

Changing teams can leave players feeling like the new kid in school

VIERA, Fla. - Roger Bernadina's World Baseball Classic journey will continue for at least another week, as the Nationals outfielder delivered an RBI single early this morning, helping the Netherlands defeat Australia to advance to the second round of the WBC. The Netherlands will now fly from Taiwan to Japan for second-round action, which will start later this week. Bernadina, who is racking up some

Young declares himself ready for Grapefruit League debut

VIERA, Fla. - Chris Young has never been a guy who wows scouts with his overpowering stuff or blows hitters away with a fastball that reaches the mid-to-upper 90s. The veteran right-hander has made a nice career out of throwing strikes, deceiving hitters with his repertoire and using his 6-foot-10 frame to create a different pitch trajectory than batters are used to. Today, pitching in

Walters attempting to stand out while still blending in

VIERA, Fla. - Zach Walters admits he has a bit of flair. Born in Cheyenne, Wyo., but raised in Las Vegas, Walters has a colorful personality, and he's got a bit of a colorful wardrobe, as well. One day earlier this spring, Walters, an eager 23-year-old shortstop in the Nationals' organization, was getting ready for a workout at the team's facilities at Space Coast Stadium.

A closer look into Rendon's offensive potential

VIERA, Fla. - Today marks the Nationals' first day off so far this spring, and of course it comes on a day when temperatures are expected to barely make it into the 60s. It's currently 38 degrees here on the east coast of Florida. So much for a beach trip this morning. The Nationals' facilities will be open to players and coaches looking to work

Johnson on Detwiler and Ramos, plus Ramos on his return

VIERA, Fla. - Not only did Wilson Ramos make his long-awaited return to game action, he also played an integral part in the Nationals' walk-off win over the Cardinals. Appearing in his first game since tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee last May 12, Ramos went 1-for-2, grounding out to third in his first at-bat and then doubling off the base of

Bray, Ohman among four Nats sent to minor league camp

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals have made their first round of cuts, sending left-handed pitchers Bill Bray, Will Ohman and Brandon Mann, and right-hander Tanner Roark to minor league camp. Bray and Ohman, brought in on minor league deals, were hopeful of winning a role in the Nats' bullpen. Mechanical issues set Bray back this spring, and he allowed three runs (two earned), five hits

Hearing from Detwiler after his final pre-WBC outing (Nats walk off with win)

VIERA, Fla. - We've got a 5-5 game here in Viera, as the Cardinals responded to Chad Tracy's two-run homer in the sixth with three runs of their own off Brandon Mann in the top of the seventh. Tracy's longball was his first of spring and gave the Nationals four home runs in their last two games. Wilson Ramos just stepped in for his first

Detwiler done after two in final WBC tune-up (Zimmerman notches first RBI)

VIERA, Fla. - Battling a stiff wind and cool conditions, Ross Detwiler pitched two innings of one-run ball in his final appearance for the Nationals before leaving to join Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Detwiler allowed back-to-back singles to open the game, then struck out the side, with Matt Carpenter, Ty Wigginton and Matt Adams all going down swinging. In the second, Detwiler

Wilson Ramos: "I feel like I'm a ballplayer again"

VIERA, Fla. - A few minutes before I went over to Wilson Ramos' locker to have a brief chat with the Nationals catcher this morning, he met with manager Davey Johnson. In that meeting, Johnson told Ramos that the team's medical staff had cleared the 25-year-old to begin playing in Grapefruit League games. That in itself was great news. But Johnson then told Ramos that

Zimmerman, Ramos to make spring debuts; Rodriguez, Garcia updates (and lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - It's a brisk 48 degrees with a stiff breeze here at Space Coast Stadium this morning, weather that led Nationals players to snatch up beanies and ear sleeves in the clubhouse and toss on their windbreakers before taking the field for delayed warm-ups. A few of the Nats' veteran position players sent 11-year-old Drake LaRoche into manager Davey Johnson's office to ask

Having some leftovers for breakfast

VIERA, Fla. - Yesterday, it was the Cardinals loading up their lineup with regulars, giving Gio Gonzalez a tough test on the road while the Nationals' batting order was filled mostly with backups and minor leaguers. The script will be flipped this afternoon at Space Coast Stadium, as the Nationals should have nearly all their starters in their lineup against the Cardinals and left-hander Jaime

Johnson on Gonzalez's outing, Nats' power surge and Storen's inning (Perez to play in WBC)

JUPITER, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez didn't seem to think a strikeout-less outing was anything abnormal for him, given the circumstances today. Neither did his manager, Davey Johnson. Johnson attributed some of Gonzalez's issues with a lack of command of his secondary pitches to the conditions. It was a cool (by Florida standards) and breezy day in Jupiter today, leaving Gonzalez's hands dry and the ball

Gonzalez speaks after a strikeout-less outing (Nats win 6-2)

JUPITER, Fla. - While reporters were talking to Gio Gonzalez about his outing, Anthony Rendon ripped a double to center. Rendon now has two home runs and three doubles in seven games and is batting .438. Decent, I guess. Nathan Karns labored a bit through a scoreless fourth inning and Ryan Perry followed with three shutout innings of his own. Drew Storen is now on

Rendon goes yard again as Nats pile it on early (Gonzalez goes three)

JUPITER, Fla. - Davey Johnson has stated unequivocally that Anthony Rendon has no shot of making the Nationals' opening day roster. Rendon doesn't seem to be letting that bit of news affect him in the least. The 22-year-old infielder just crushed his second home run of the spring, a long fly to dead center that bounced high off the batter's eye. It was a two-run

Ramos update and other pregame notes (with lineups)

JUPITER, Fla. - After getting examined by medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih this morning, catcher Wilson Ramos has been cleared to take part in some sliding drills back at the Nationals' complex at Space Coast Stadium, according to manager Davey Johnson. This will mark the first time sliding for Ramos since undergoing surgery to repair a torn right ACL and meniscus last summer. Ramos typically

Bernadina posts two RBIs in WBC debut, Wang excels

JUPITER, Fla. - Spoiler alert: I'm about to provide updates of the Netherlands/Korea World Baseball Classic game, which is apparently airing on a time delay on MLB Network. I got scolded on Twitter by one fan who said that I ruined the game by posting an update on Roger Bernadina, so be warned, everyone. If you're really into the game on TV and don't want

What an improved changeup could mean for Zimmermann, plus plans for Rendon

VIERA, Fla. - We've been here before, with Jordan Zimmermann feeling like he's turned a corner with his changeup, so to speak. Zimmermann has been working on his changeup for three straight years, hoping to get it to the point that he has enough confidence in the pitch to use it in games. Last year, Zimmermann thought he was at that point. He worked on

Johnson talks Zimmermann, Clippard after Nats win

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - It looked for a second like the Braves were going to tie tonight's game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Jordan Parraz singled up the middle just behind the second base bag. Joey Terdoslavich (boy, what a name that is) made a turn around third and was ready to head for home, but Nationals second baseman

Zimmermann loving how his changeup has progressed (Nats win)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann has been working on his changeup for three years now. He's struggled to get a good feel of the pitch in the past, had issues finding the right arm action and searched for the proper velocity to maximize the changeup's effectiveness. Zimmermann didn't trust his changeup last year, and therefore threw it just 2.2 percent of the time.

Clippard's spring debut a strong one, Rendon in at short

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Tyler Clippard took a while before getting into a spring game, but once he did, he looked just like his old self. Clippard pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning tonight, striking out Christian Bethancourt swinging for the second out of the frame. The right-hander threw nine pitches, seven for strikes. He threw three changeups, by my count. That pitch is still

Zimmermann pounding the zone, Harper homers (updated)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Bryce Harper put the Nationals on the board just three batters into tonight's game at Champion Stadium, smacking an opposite-field home run off Braves starter Julio Teheran. The wind is blowing out to left here tonight, and a ball that looked like it might come down feet short of the fence ended up landing on the berm just beyond the

Harper mashes, Young's schedule is set

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Every time the Nationals make the trip here to face the Braves, I look forward to watching Bryce Harper take batting practice, assuming he's on the trip. About 20-40 feet beyond the right field fence here, there's a castle-like tan wall that stands maybe 20 feet tall. I'm not really sure what purpose it serves, but it's out there, and

Johnson: Rendon has no chance of breaking camp with Nats

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Based on all we know about Anthony Rendon and the makeup of the Nationals' roster, it was probably safe to assume that Rendon has no shot at making the team out of camp this year. After all, Rendon has only 133 career professional at-bats under his belt, and he batted just .162 in 21 games at Double-A Harrisburg last year,

Harper lands another cover, plus a few pitching updates (with Braves lineup)

VIERA, Fla. - Not only was Bryce Harper featured on his second Sports Illustrated cover last week, the Nationals' 20-year-old phenom has also landed on the cover of Men's Health. Harper joins Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Giants catcher Buster Posey on one of the covers, but each player will also have his own individual cover, as well. Here is Harper's solo cover, which refers

Some Friday morning notes and quotes

VIERA, Fla. - After a lengthy night game last night, the Nationals will travel to Lake Buena Vista today for another 6:05 p.m. start, this time against the Braves. This will mark three night games in a five-game span, but after today, the Nats will play 13 straight afternoon contests. Players much prefer matinee games in spring, as do reporters. Night games, especially those on

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