VIERA, Fla. - For those of you who are interested in keeping up with the jersey numbers of the new Nationals - and I know you people are out there - I have updates for you.
Outfielder Nate McLouth, who signed a two-year deal this offseason, will wear No. 15, which was worn by Dan Haren last season. Right-hander Doug Fister, acquired in a December trade with the Tigers, will wear No. 58. And Jerry Blevins, the left-handed reliever the Nats got in a trade with the A's, will wear No. 13.
Manager Matt Williams will be sporting No. 9 with the Nats.
I won't wear a jersey number, but I'll be No. 1 in your hearts.
If you're looking for the latest facial hair news regarding Nats players (if we want to call it news), Ryan Mattheus has kept his beard, which is approaching Jayson Werth level. Here's a picture of it, courtesy of Gio Gonzalez's Instagram feed.
Mattheus asked around to make sure he would be allowed to keep the beard into the regular season, if he so desires, and apparently he got the go-ahead from Williams and pitching coach Steve McCatty.
McCatty had a simple message on that topic, which Mattheus relayed to me this morning.
"If you get guys out, I don't care what you look like," McCatty told him.
A funny moment from this morning came when right-hander Taylor Jordan made his way over to Nathan Karns to wish Karns well before he departed for Rays camp. Jordan had just become aware of the trade that was causing his buddy to pack up his belongings, but he hadn't heard where Karns had been dealt.
"What team?" Jordan asked. "The A's?"
Jordan asked the question without a hint of sarcasm, and he might have just misheard someone, because Rays and A's sure sound a lot alike. But Jordan's mistake caused a couple of reporters to crack a smile, knowing that if we had to guess a team that had acquired Karns, it would probably indeed be Oakland, because the Nationals and A's have made so many darn trades together over the last couple of years.
Livan Hernandez drew quite a crowd in the Nats clubhouse late in the morning, the former starter wearing a neon green polo and looking like he was ready to hit the links as soon as he departed the building. He dished out hugs and handshakes to players, sporting a big smile on his face, and then expressed some confusion when Olympic curling came onto the clubhouse TV.
Hernandez is in camp as an instructor, and will assist during workouts, once they begin Saturday. And if the Nats need a pitcher to step in and eat innings following a spring training rain delay, I'm sure Livo would be willing to help there, too.
I passed along some quotes from Wilson Ramos earlier today in regards to his new teammate, Jose Lobaton, but Ramos also talked about his winter and how he feels coming into camp.
Ramos got married early this offseason and then played in the Venezuelan Winter League, getting 123 at-bats with Tigres de Aragua. He didn't catch, serving only as the designated hitter, and put up strong numbers, posting a .309/.368/.463 slash line, with four homers and 18 RBIs.
"When the season was over last year, I was feeling great. Now it feels good, too," said Ramos, who landed on the disabled list due to hamstring injuries twice last season. "I was working in Venezuela with my leg. I just played DH in Venezuela, but it feels great with my body right now. Now I'm here for work with my leg and try to help the team and be healthy for the rest of the season."
Ramos desperately wants to prove that he can stay healthy and become a true everyday catcher in the big leagues, and the Nats would love it if he can stay on the field enough that he eclipses the 100-game mark this season for just the second time in his career. Lobaton's presence, however, will give Williams another proven option if Ramos needs a day off or is injured.
"I want to stay healthy," Ramos said. "I want to work with my legs and try to be strong mentally to catch 130, 135 games. That's the point right now. So I concentrate on that. I want to work, I want to know my pitching staff better. See what happens for the season."