Cedeno hoping to build off strong finish to 2013, stellar winter ball effort

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals’ workout schedule today will pretty much mirror the one that they had yesterday. They’ll head out to the back fields around 10 a.m., get in some stretching, rotate through a few stations (bullpen sessions, pick-off practice, bunting drills and pitchers’ fielding practice) and then likely wrap up sometime around noon.

Those scheduled to throw bullpen sessions today: Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Ross Detwiler, Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Jerry Blevins, Felipe Rivero, Craig Stammen, Gabriel Alfaro, Clay Hensley Daniel Stange and Blake Treinen.

Rafael Soriano won’t throw today, but he will join this throwing group starting Tuesday. Manager Matt Williams said yesterday that Soriano’s throwing program will start a little later than most pitchers, and that he’s scheduled to take the mound for the first time in the bullpen on Tuesday.

Xavier Cedeno was among those who threw yesterday morning, the left-hander joining four other southpaws (Matt Purke, Sammy Solis, Tyler Robertson and Danny Rosenbaum) in the so-called “10-pack,” the stretch of 10 bullpen mounds out beyond the clover fields near the minor league complex.

Cedeno comes into camp with his arm already in top form, this after he spent the winter pitching for Santurce in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he posted some stellar numbers.

Here they are: Cedeno put up a 2.49 ERA in 19 games spanning 21 2/3 innings, striking out 36 and walking just seven (three of which were intentional). He posted a strong 0.83 WHIP in the process.

Yeah, that’ll do.

This winter ball performance comes after Cedeno dominated down the stretch last season, allowing just two hits and no walks with five strikeouts over his final eight appearances (4 1/3 innings).

“I didn’t want to go four months without seeing hitters, because for me, that’s the main thing - being in the game and feeling the adrenaline going,” Cedeno said. “That’s what I did, that’s why I went down to Puerto Rico and kept it going instead of just laying back and resting.”

He comes into spring this year riding a wave of momentum, which can only help as he tries to win a spot in a crowded Nationals bullpen. Cedeno does seemingly have one thing working in his favor over guys like Ryan Mattheus, Christian Garcia, Luis Ayala, Josh Roenicke and Manny Delcarmen, however - he throws a baseball with his left hand.

His numbers against left-handed hitters were solid last season (a .231/.333/.269 slash line), but he struggled mightily against righties, who hit .391/.517/.522 off him. Those are splits that Cedeno wants to improve, and he seemingly did down in Puerto Rico, where he held righties to a .127 batting average.

“Last year, I felt really good against lefties, but I don’t wanna be out of the bullpen for one hitter,” Cedeno said. “The main thing is just be focused on the game and attack the hitters. That’s what helped me last year and that’s what I’m gonna try to continue doing. Attacking the zone and getting ahead of guys.

“Just need to try and hit the spots better, because it’s easy when a lefty sees a lefty on the mound. It’s hard on them. But righties are different, it’s easier for them to face a lefty. So you’ve got to hit your spots better. You can’t miss.”

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