Good morning, NatsTown - I know a few of you have been asking about a list of non-roster invitees to major league spring training. This certainly isn’t the full list, but there are a few available names of minor leaguers headed to camp:
I don’t see any great candidates to make the team in that group, with the possible exception of Stairs. But I think he’ll start the year in the minors and come up when the Nationals have a need for him.
Mattheus is an interesting case; he was acquired in the Joe Beimel deal at the 2009 trade deadline, but had Tommy John surgery and missed most of last year. The Nationals see some potential in him, though, and it’ll be interesting to see how much he helps himself with a look in camp. Gaudin could get a shot as a long reliever, too.
I’d expect a handful of names to be added to this list, like infielder Stephen Lombardozzi and possibly pitcher Tom Milone. But the Nationals don’t have a great need for a big roster this spring, since most of their ideal 25-man group is already finalized. They’ll want to evaluate a few of their prospects against big league pitching, and they’ll need some inventory for early spring games (though they only have one split squad game on the schedule). It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if the team went into camp with a roster in the low-to-mid 50s. There just doesn’t seem to be a need for many more players than that. Especially with starting pitchers, the Nationals were running out of work last year; Livan Hernandez’s first several outings were in simulated games on back fields.
They’ll take enough players to camp to create competition in the rotation, bullpen and bench, but the days of 70-man camps (which doubled as controlled tryouts in some cases) under Manny Acta would appear to be over.