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Nationals 9, Mets 3: Postgame thoughts

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - We've been hearing all winter about the more aggressive, more athletic Nationals, the ones who would do with pluck, hustle and defensive smarts what they'd previously tried to do with power. As much as one spring training game can set a tone for that kind of thing, Monday's 9-3 win over the New York Mets in the spring opener did

Bryce Harper goes 0-for-2 in Nationals debut

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Bryce Harper's first spring training game with the Nationals is over, and if there's a theme to take away from it, it's this: Nobody, no matter how talented he might be, comes into the majors without a learning curve. Harper went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts, swinging at all three pitches he saw from lefty-killer Taylor Tankersley in his

Morse homers twice, Nats down Mets in spring opener

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Good afternoon from Digital Domain Park, where the Nationals are about to start their 2011 spring schedule against the New York Mets. I'll have game updates and analysis throughout the afternoon here, so keep checking this thread for the latest. Also, if you've got a question or an observation, leave it in the comments section, and I'll get back to

Ex-National Willie Harris adjusting to life with Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Willie Harris walked onto the field in a Mets uniform on Monday, and couldn't get through two sentences before a Nationals player or coach interrupted him with a handshake or hug. He and his wife drove up to Melbourne this week to have dinner with Ian Desmond and his wife, as well as J.D. Martin and his fiancee. He remains

Bryce Harper will get one at-bat, probably won't play field

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Hello from Digital Domain Park (I think I got that right), where the Nationals are a little over an hour from starting their spring schedule against the New York Mets. Manager Jim Riggleman met with reporters this morning, and almost all of the questions he took were about Bryce Harper, who will get his first at-bat sometime today. Harper will

For the Nationals, it's gameday

VIERA, Fla. - Baseball is back. I'm in my hotel room at the moment, but I'm packing up in a little bit to hit the road for Port St. Lucie, where the Nationals play their first spring training game this afternoon against the Mets. It's just the first of nearly 200 games between spring training and the regular season, but it means the ride is

Nationals set accelerated camp roster

VIERA, Fla. - Here is the Nationals' roster for their accelerated minor league camp, which begins this week with some of the team's best prospects: PITCHERS (22) Aaron Barrett James Barthmaier Mitchell Clegg A.J. Cole Paul Demny Robinson Fabian Marcos Frias Matt Grace Trevor Holder Taylor Jordan Rafael Martin Jack McGeary Brad Meyers Tom Milone Brad Peacock Hassan Pena Robbie Ray Daniel Rosenbaum Cameron Selik

Nationals Sunday workout observations

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals completed their final full squad workout of the spring early this afternoon, running through a light session of drills and batting practice at their training complex, and now have nothing standing between them and the first games of the year. They'll begin their spring schedule tomorrow at 1:10 p.m., traveling to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets before

Adam Carr and Corey Brown, reunited in Nationals camp

VIERA, Fla. - When the Nationals traded Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics in December, most of the feedback about the deal centered around Henry Rodriguez, the hard-throwing reliever they'd get from Oakland in return. But the trade also meant they'd get outfielder Corey Brown, a left-handed hitter with some power and speed who might be able to lead off for them one day. And

Morning Nationals notes

VIERA, Fla. - Good morning. The Nationals are headed out for their final full squad workout before tomorrow's exhibition opener, and the mood in the clubhouse this morning was looser than it's been in a while. Michael Morse was in charge of the clubhouse stereo, as he often is, and he put together an eclectic playlist that ranged from U2 to Drake to Katrina and

Nationals Saturday workout observations

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals finished working out at their spring training complex early this afternoon, and blessedly, they only have one more full-squad workout before their Grapefruit League schedule gets started on Monday. This part of camp seems to drag on every year, and players seem ready to get into games. I know I'm ready to write about them. Anyway, a few points from

Updates on Nationals pitchers Wang and Meredith

VIERA, Fla. - The way things are going right now, it's looking more and more like the Nationals will play a spring game with Chien-Ming Wang before they will play one with Cla Meredith. Wang, who will pitch a game in the Nationals' accelerated minor league camp on Friday, continued to look stronger in his latest bullpen session today, snapping his curveball with regularity and

Cla Meredith's elbow still bothering him

VIERA, Fla. - Reliever Cla Meredith, who cut a workout short for the second time this spring yesterday, is still having trouble with his elbow after offseason surgery to remove bone chips. He already had an MRI on his elbow this spring, and is undergoing more tests. "We're going to get some results back later today," manager Jim Riggleman said. "I'm sure he's really down

The Nationals' first spring lineup

VIERA, Fla. - Here is the lineup manager Jim Riggleman will use on Monday against the Mets in the Nationals' first spring training game: CF Nyjer Morgan SS Ian Desmond LF Roger Bernadina RF Michael Morse DH Matt Stairs C Wilson Ramos 1B Kevin Barker 2B Danny Espinosa 3B Jerry Hairston Jr. P Chad Gaudin Jesus Flores is also on the trip to Port St.

Chien-Ming Wang on the way back for Nationals

VIERA, Fla. - Chien-Ming Wang's shoulder rehab has progressed to the point the Nationals finally have him slated to pitch in a spring game, and while the pitcher's recovery from surgery is still moving slowly, the team is more encouraged about his progress than it has been in a while. Wang will throw an inning in a simulated game on March 4 against minor leaguers

Chris Marrero hoping to finally change from "not yet" to "now"

VIERA, Fla. - Chris Marrero is going into his sixth season in the Nationals' organization. It's his fourth as the team's first baseman of the future, and at some point, his time with that designation is going to have to end. 
The signs of it are there already: The Nationals put Marrero on the 40-man roster at the end of last season to block him

The Nationals' murky left field picture

VIERA, Fla. - There probably hasn't been a position on the Nationals' roster that was more affected by their offseason maneuvers than left field. When they signed Jayson Werth, they effectively displaced Roger Bernadina and Michael Morse to fight for playing time there and elsewhere. When they traded Josh Willingham, Morse was temporarily slated to play first base, with Bernadina getting all of the at-bats

The Nationals' travel list for Monday's Mets game

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals published their travel list for their exhibition opener Monday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. The lineup will mostly include younger players. Here's how I'd expect it to look, based on the list that was posted this morning. C Wilson Ramos 1B Chris Marrero 2B Danny Espinosa SS Ian Desmond 3B Jerry Hairston Jr. LF Roger Bernadina CF Nyjer

Nationals flip Marquis and Zimmermann in spring rotation

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals made a switch in their pitching rotation to start the spring. Jordan Zimmermann will now pitch the fourth game of the spring, and Jason Marquis, who was scheduled to pitch that game against the Cardinals, will instead pitch the fifth game of the spring against the Braves. The Nationals will throw Chad Gaudin in the first game of the spring

Afternoon Nats notes: Ramirez arrives, Marquis hopes to rebound

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals finished a light workout early this afternoon; most of their morning was planned out with the Major League Baseball Players Association meeting here today, and because of it, their work on the back fields didn't feature as much action as the last couple days. Coaches threw batting practice to players, instead of pitchers throwing live BP, and the Nationals doubled

Nationals agree to terms with 16 international free agents

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals announced this morning they have agreed to terms with 16 international free agents, landing a group headlined by a pair of 17-year-olds: catcher Raudy Read and outfielder Randy Novas. They expect Read to be talented enough offensively to play regularly in the majors, and also like his arm behind the plate. The Nationals are also touting Novas as a five-tool

Bryce Harper to debut Monday against the Mets

VIERA, Fla. - A few notes from manager Jim Riggleman's morning media session about the Nationals' first game of the spring Monday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie: * Bryce Harper will travel to the Nationals' first game Monday, Riggleman said. He won't start, but will likely get an at-bat in the game against the Mets. "The more that he kind of goes up

Nationals notes: The pitching staff

VIERA, Fla. - Good morning from Space Coast Stadium. It's a bit of a chaotic day here - the clubhouse has been closed most of the morning because of a union meeting, and I've got a series of little news items from manager Jim Riggleman's media session. So instead of putting them in a long post, I'm going to break them up into a couple

Wednesday Nationals workout observations

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals are well into live batting practice sessions at this point in camp, and today's workout actually brought a couple interesting matchups. The most notable of those was Drew Storen pitching to Jayson Werth - and brushing him back - after Werth hit a walk-off grand slam off Storen last September in Philadelphia. But there were some other good pairings, too.

Storen's rematch with Werth a learning experience

VIERA, Fla. - We must be getting close to the conclusion of spring training's first act; the Nationals' workouts are getting shorter, and there's actually some competition in them. The big story in today's workout was Drew Storen facing Jayson Werth for the first time since Werth hit a walk-off grand slam against him last September in Philadelphia. When Werth dug in for live batting

Riggleman identifying Nationals' leaders

VIERA, Fla. - Before Nationals manager Jim Riggleman met with the media this morning, he pulled three players - outfielder Jayson Werth, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and shortstop Ian Desmond - into his office. Riggleman was drafting a list of "standards," as he called them, for the Nationals' clubhouse, and wanted players to be in charge of writing most of them. There were a couple

The Nationals' rotation starts to take shape

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals' spring rotation is coming into form about how it was expected to look. John Lannan will pitch the third game of the spring, and Jason Marquis will pitch the fourth. But just because those two pitchers are following Livan Hernandez in exhibition games doesn't mean they'll necessarily pitch the second and third games of the regular season. The Nationals' early

Bryce Harper enters Nationals camp with confidence to spare

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals continue to say Bryce Harper has little chance of making it to the big leagues this year. The odds of him making the team at age 18, out of spring training with no minor league experience, are next to nil. But Harper probably wouldn't be Harper if he believed that. In his first interview with reporters at spring training, Harper

Jayson Werth thinks Nationals can win sooner than later

VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth met with reporters for the first time this spring today, taking stock of what had happened with the Nationals since they rocked the baseball world last December by giving him a seven-year, $126 million contract. Werth alternated between talking points and frank opinions, saying at one point that he thinks the Nationals are going "to do some things most people

Tuesday Nationals workout observations

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals finished their first full-squad workout early this afternoon, on a day where Bryce Harper again claimed much of the attention. The 18-year-old took live batting practice against Shairon Martis and Brian Broderick, fouling off a handful of pitches and hitting two hard balls that might have gone for hits in a real game. But today's session didn't feature any of

Riggleman's message to Nationals: "Let's exceed expectations"

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals' first full-squad workout is this morning, and before that, the team had its traditional beginning-of-spring meeting with players and coaches. Manager Jim Riggleman said much of the session dealt with logistics - times of meetings, team policies, etc. - and some introductions of new players and coaches. But he did have a quick message for the team. "A lot of

Nationals adjusting to life with Bryce Harper

VIERA, Fla. - Bryce Harper's first day in Nationals camp, at times, had the feeling of a rock concert. He was just taking batting practice on Monday and shagging some fly balls, but everything from his hair (the faux-hawk that spiked out the back of his helmet) to the way he left the field (autograph seekers cornered him against a fence and tailed him back

Interview with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo: Part 2

VIERA, Fla. - Good morning, NatsTown. It's supposed to be 80 and sunny here today. I've been informed by the saltier readers of this blog that I can't brag about the weather too much. But let me just say that if there were a day I was going to do it ... well, today wouldn't be a bad choice. Anyway, it's Meeting Central at Space

Monday Nationals workout observations

VIERA, Fla. - The big story at Nationals camp on Monday was the arrival of Bryce Harper, the 18-year-old phenom who will spend at least a week or two in major league spring training as part of his introduction to professional baseball. Still sporting a mohawk that he fiddled with on a couple occasions, making sure it still spiked out the back of his cap,

Bryce Harper arrives at Nationals camp

VIERA, Fla. - Let the circus begin. Bryce Harper arrived at Nationals camp today, walking onto the practice fields to an audible murmur as fans realized the 18-year-old was walking past. He played catch with his new teammates for about 15 minutes, tossing to outfielder Roger Bernadina, before shagging fly balls in right field taking batting practice for the first time. Harper hit four homers

The Nationals' interchangeable backups

VIERA, Fla. - If there's one characteristic a Jim Riggleman bench must have, it's versatility. The Nationals manager makes liberal use of the double switch, and will often put a player in the on-deck circle to force a pitching change, only to replace him with another player. He learned the game in an era where players had logged time at a number of positions, and

Interview with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo: Part 1

VIERA, Fla. - I sat down with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo yesterday for a brief one-on-one interview, to get a sense of how he feels about the team at the start of 2011 spring training. Rizzo weighed in with his thoughts on the future of manager Jim Riggleman, how the team will handle Bryce Harper and what he thinks of the way players handled

Derek Norris hoping to make a big impression on Nationals this spring

VIERA, Fla. - Derek Norris' locker in the Nationals' clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium is close to the main entrance from the dugout, about as far away from the lockers of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth as he can get. He is wearing No. 66 this spring - the kind of high number that doubles as a trademark for a player who's eventually headed to

Mike Rizzo says he has "great confidence" in Jim Riggleman

VIERA, Fla. - If there was going to be any chance Nationals manager Jim Riggleman got through the early part of the 2011 season without questions about his contract, it went away as soon as the manager met with reporters. The first question Riggleman took in his introductory press conference last Wednesday was whether he considers 2011 to be a "must-win" season for him. And

Sunday Nationals workout observations

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals' pitchers and catchers workouts are starting to involve more hitters as players file into camp, and with many players participating ahead of Tuesday's first full-squad workout, the first stage of spring is almost at its end. Every position player has reported to camp, and the Nationals are only missing Elvin Ramirez and Henry Rodriguez from their group of pitchers because

Gonzalez needs to accept role with Nats, Riggleman says

VIERA, Fla. - The way the Nationals' roster was structured last year was the worst possible scenario for Alberto Gonzalez to get playing time. The utility infielder had carved out nearly 300 at-bats for himself in 2009, but by 2010, the Nationals had signed Adam Kennedy and brought Ian Desmond to the majors. Cristian Guzman was still there, and Willie Harris could play second base

Saturday Nationals workout observations

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals concluded their third pitchers-and-catchers workout of the spring early this afternoon. Here are a couple observations from the workout: * Ross Detwiler was trying to work out his mechanics last year, but his surgically repaired hip prevented him from doing everything he wanted to do. You can see early this spring that Detwiler has made some changes. He's not throwing

Cla Meredith's elbow is fine

VIERA, Fla. - After feeling discomfort in his elbow and ending a bullpen session early yesterday, right-handed reliever Cla Meredith said today his arm is still healthy. The submariner had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow over the offseason, but a MRI and X-ray showed no structural damage to his arm. Meredith has never had surgery before, so he's hoping the pain he

Chien-Ming Wang looks better in second bullpen session

VIERA, Fla. - After a bullpen session on Thursday where he still looked months away from pitching in the majors, Chien-Ming Wang showed some improvement on Saturday. His velocity was up, his pitches looked crisper and Wang said his arm felt better on Saturday than it did Thursday. It's only a small step, but Wang continues to believe he's heading in the right direction. "I

An update on three Nationals relievers

VIERA, Fla. - At present, the Nationals are missing three relievers; visa issues are still delaying Henry Rodriguez and Elvin Ramirez, while Cla Meredith underwent a medical examination after cutting a bullpen session short yesterday. The Nationals hope to have both pitchers in camp sometime next week - they both throw in the high 90s, and each has a strong chance to make the team.

Two items to close the day (Harper, single-game tickets)

VIERA, Fla. - Just getting back to the hotel after a lovely afternoon at the Barry Svrluga Memorial Panera Bureau. A couple quick notes: * The Nationals announced a few minutes ago that single-game tickets for the 2011 season will go on sale March 3 at 10 a.m.. They can be purchased at the Nationals Park box office, by going to Nationals.com or by calling

Michael Morse looks for his shot with the Nationals

VIERA, Fla. - In sports, there are typically two schools of thought on how a player should answer reporters' questions about the possibility of sharing his playing time or dealing with a reduced role. The first: Answer the question confidently, but not defiantly. Say something like, "I'm confident I can play every day," or, "If I play the way I know I can, I expect

Riggleman says Rodriguez will be Nats' starting catcher

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals enter the spring with more competition at catcher than just about any other position on their roster. But manager Jim Riggleman framed that competition in a little different light this morning, saying Ivan Rodriguez will be the starter, at least to open the year, while Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores will battle to back him up. "My thought is that

Will the Nationals' bullpen be better? It's not a guarantee

VIERA, Fla. - You're likely to hear a lot from Nationals camp this spring about their bullpen being the foundation of the team, how the Nationals have strengthened a strength by adding relievers Todd Coffey and Henry Rodriguez, among others, to a group that had the fifth-best ERA in baseball last year while working the most innings. Heading into the spring, there's a high likelihood

A Viera roll call

VIERA, Fla. - As the spring goes on and activity starts to heat up in the Grapefruit League, I'm guessing some of you will be heading south to watch the Nationals work out, or perhaps to take in a few games. If you're traveling to Florida and want to meet up with other Nats fans, leave a comment below with the dates you'll be here.

Strasburg on rehab, Harper and quitting chewing tobacco

VIERA, Fla. - In his time away from the spotlight, it's clear Stephen Strasburg has gotten more comfortable with being in it. He was as relaxed and open today with reporters as he has been in his time with the Nationals, and he had a number of choice quotes, both of the revealing and humorous variety. Here they are: * Strasburg has historically shied away

Strasburg on his way back, but Nats will be cautious

VIERA, Fla. - On Jan. 31, Stephen Strasburg threw a baseball for the first time after Tommy John surgery, so what he did Thursday morning wasn't anything different than what he's been doing for the last two weeks. He played catch with trainer Lee Kuntz for about 10 minutes today, stretching out to about 45 feet before finishing with some light tosses. But Strasburg's career,

Thoughts on the Nationals' morning workout

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals just finished their first pitchers and catchers workout of the spring, with a handful of pitchers throwing bullpen sessions, working on fielding drills and playing catch. But in the midst of that, Stephen Strasburg threw a baseball in public. And the public was happy to observe and chronicle all of it. Strasburg played catch with trainer Lee Kuntz for about

The logic behind Todd Coffey's bullpen runs

VIERA, Fla. - Once the regular season starts, Nationals fans will likely be treated to a sight that became an unusual tradition in Milwaukee the last two years: a 6-foot-4, 240-lb. reliever sprinting like mad from the bullpen to the mound. That sprint has become one of Todd Coffey's calling cards. He's been doing it all seven seasons he's been in the majors. The Brewers

The Nationals' first pitchers and catchers workout is today

VIERA, Fla. - Good morning from Viera, where the high today is projected to be 79. I'll pause for a moment so you can swoon. Everybody good? Now that we've got that out of the way - and I promise I won't do too much of it - let's get down to business. The Nationals have their first workout for pitchers and catchers today. And

Fully healed, Nats' Jordan Zimmermann expects big year

VIERA, Fla. - After the 2010 season - probably the longest year of Jordan Zimmermann's baseball life - ended, Zimmermann retreated to the tiny town of Auburndale, Wis., where he grew up. He hunted for as long as he could through the fall in nearby Mosinee and added a trip to South Dakota. Zimmermann trekked through the woods with a bow or a rifle, shooting

The Nationals' old guard is still kicking

VIERA, Fla. - The deals the Nationals gave Ivan Rodriguez and Livan Hernandez before last season were two of those contracts that make baseball people chuckle, in a good-thing-that's-not-us kind of way. Rodriguez got a two-year, $6 million deal at the 2009 Winter Meetings, with the Nationals saying they wanted a veteran catcher. The future Hall of Famer was at the top of their list

Aside from visa problems, Nationals pitchers and catchers are here

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals announced a few minutes ago that all of their pitchers and catchers are in camp, save for three players who are having visa problems: right-handed relievers Elvin Ramirez and Henry Rodriguez, and catcher Carlos Maldonado. The team expects all three players should be in camp within a few days.

A quiet morning in Viera; Atilano designated for assignment

VIERA, Fla. - As I got up this morning, I realized today is essentially the last unstructured day of the baseball season - and thus, of my life - until October. And it's started out quietly so far. Pitchers and catchers are taking physicals this morning, so there's scant activity in the clubhouse, and while some players will be working out later today, official workouts

How two Nationals spent their winters

VIERA, Fla. - Barring any news, this will be the last thing I'll have for you today, but I just wanted to share a couple interesting items on how two Nationals people - second baseman Danny Espinosa and assistant GM Bob Boone - spent their winters. Espinosa, of course, had surgery to remove the hook of hamate bone in his right hand in November. He

Video, Facebook and more

VIERA, Fla. - Good afternoon. I'll get back to posting Nationals content shortly, but I have a couple other things to point out to you before I do that: - First, we've got our first video from spring training live on our Nationals Facebook page, and I'll be posting a few more clips yet today from Jim Riggleman's media session. The camerawork is nothing riveting

Jim Riggleman on the Nationals' pitching staff

VIERA, Fla. - First, let's get this out of the way: The pitching staff the Nationals have at the start of spring training is not their ideal group. Not even close. In a perfect world, Stephen Strasburg would be healthy. They'd also have another top-of-the-line starter to pair with him, like Zack Greinke, whom they tried to get this winter. Even with Strasburg recovering from

If the Nationals' season started now ...

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Jim Riggleman held his introductory press conference with reporters early this afternoon, discussing how he thinks the 2011 team looks at the start of spring training. He got a handful of questions about how the Nationals' lineup, rotation and bullpen would look if the season started now, which are mostly useful at this point to establish a baseline for the

Tidbits from the Nationals clubhouse

VIERA, Fla. - Players are starting to file in at Space Coast Stadium, which leads to an important spring custom: the traditional round of hellos, how-are-yous and how-was-your-winters in the clubhouse. A couple interesting items out of those before I head out to watch players work out: * Drew Storen, now sporting No. 22, is already on his sixth jersey number in the Washington organization

Nationals camp is officially open

VIERA, Fla. - It's Feb. 15, the sun is shining in Viera, Fla., and Space Coast Stadium is starting to fill up with activity. Pitchers and catchers report today, and Nationals spring training is officially underway. Jim Riggleman will meet with the media for the first time at noon today, and we'll have plenty more from that. I'm also hoping to shoot a little video

The Nationals' early arrivals

VIERA, Fla. - When I arrived at Space Coast Stadium early this afternoon, things were relatively quiet, which is how you'd expect them to be the day before pitchers and catchers are due to report to Nationals camp. Players arrived early to get their work in, and many were on their way out of the complex, perhaps to squeeze in a round of golf on

The Nationals' spring TV schedule

Hello from Orlando, where it's in the high 50s and the sun is shining. It's time for baseball. I'm blogging from the rental car line at Orlando International (this iPhone is making life easier already), and I'm headed for Space Coast Stadium just as soon as I get behind the wheel. I'm very excited for the first year where I'll be able to run Pandora

Heading to Orlando, then on to Viera

I'm sitting at Washington Dulles right now, about to hop on a flight to Orlando for the start of spring training. The waiting area, to this point, doesn't look too full of overexcited kids. So that's a good thing. That's my one and only complaint about flying to Orlando today. I promise. Anyway, I'll be arriving at Space Coast Stadium later today, and will have

Elijah Dukes says he smoked marijuana while with Nationals

Elijah Dukes, the troubled former Nationals outfielder cut by the team last spring, said in a Tampa Tribune interview this week that he smoked marijuana during his 2 1/2 seasons with the team. In the interview, Dukes blamed "peer pressure" from teammates and said he was blackballed by Major League Baseball after coming forward with his allegations of drug use by fellow players. In the

Nationals spring stories to watch: The Strasburg/Harper debuts

The Nationals' future with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper is not here yet. Really, it's not even close to being here. Harper has to scale four levels of minor league baseball before he'll reach the majors, and to get back there after Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has to build from playing soft toss (which he did for the first time yesterday) to unleashing the triple-digit

Stephen Strasburg throws for first time after surgery

In his road back from Tommy John surgery, Stephen Strasburg will pass lots of little milestones like the one he reached today. He'll throw from certain distances for the first time, he'll take a mound for the first time, he'll begin to throw breaking pitches again, he'll pitch batting practice and simulated games, and he'll finally begin a rehab assignment. Today's development, in the grand

Nationals' radio broadcasts likely headed to WJFK

The Nationals are close to an agreement with WJFK-FM to make the sports talk station their flagship radio affiliate, according to sources familiar with the deal. The team would keep WFED-AM, which has been the team's radio rightsholder, as a relay station. Though the deal is not finalized yet, sources said there is a verbal agreement in place. WJFK's signal is strongest in northern Virginia,

Would Francisco Liriano be a possibility for the Nationals?

The Nationals' search for a top-of-the-rotation pitcher might lead them to another candidate. There was news out of Minnesota last night that the Twins, who just avoided arbitration with left-hander Francisco Liriano, don't consider him part of their long-term plans and might be looking to trade him before he becomes a free agent in 2012. Joe Christensen (who's a former Orioles beat writer, a fellow

Nationals spring stories to watch: The youth movement up the middle

We're now officially inside of a week until pitchers and catchers report. And in true Viera fashion, it's time for me to look at the weather forecast and get a shred of hope about warmer temperatures. This, of course, will be followed with the traditional forecast re-check on Saturday, where I find they're not forecasting anything warmer than 60 degrees in the near future. Such

Nationals spring stories to watch: Washington's new outfield

We're counting down the days to spring training - pitchers and catchers report a week from today - and players are already starting to trickle into Viera. To whet your appetite, Florida Today reporter Mark DeCotis has a story on a few of the early arrivals to Nationals camp; Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzelanny and Nyjer Morgan are among them. (DeCotis, it should be noted, is

And now, on to baseball season

Good morning, NatsTown. I'm coming to you live from Cloud Nine. My voice is gone and I'm running on minimal sleep. And it couldn't feel any better. (By the way, if you watched Fox's report about the Steelers and Packers bars on Capitol Hill being next to each other, and you saw somebody in a throwback Packers jersey walking through the back of the shot

Nationals sign three to minor league deals, invite Norris to spring training

The list of players scheduled to be in the Nationals' major league camp this spring continued to grow on Friday. The team signed three players - pitcher J.D. Martin, catcher Carlos Maldonado and first baseman Kevin Barker - to minor league deals with invitations to spring training. They also invited three more players, including starter Matt Chico and top prospect Derek Norris, to big league

How many more spring trainings do the Nationals have in Viera?

A week from Monday, I'll be hopping on a plane from Washington Dulles to Orlando and wading through one of the country's worst airports. I'll pick up my rental car and start the 45-mile drive - east on State Highway 528, then south on Interstate 95 - from Orlando International Airport to Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. There's nothing special about the trek, through

Nationals minor leaguer Adrian Nieto suspended for PEDs

Adrian Nieto, a switch-hitting catcher whom the Nationals took in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, according to a Major League Baseball release. The release said Nieto tested positive for Oxandrolone, a drug primarily used to stimulate weight gain, and metabolite, which is a performance-enhancing substance. His suspension will start at the

Nationals sign Laynce Nix to minor league deal

The Nationals added another outfielder to the mix for a roster spot this spring, today signing former Reds outfielder Laynce Nix to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Nix, who turned 30 in October, gives them another left-handed bat who can platoon in left field and provide some pop off the bench. He hit 15 homers in 116 games for the

An early look at the Nationals' 2011 draft picks

Good morning, NatsTown. Getting a bit of a late start today after staying up late for the iPhone presale last night. After all the advice I got about smartphone purchases, I ultimately decided to get the Verizon iPhone 4 now, rather than waiting for a new one. The logic went like this: First, nobody knows whether the next iPhone will be 4G, what improvements it

Nationals sign Ex-O's pitcher Meredith to minor league deal

The Nationals announced this afternoon they have signed former Orioles and Padres right-hander Cla Meredith to a minor-league deal with an invite to major league spring training. They also officially announced the minor league contract for Alex Cora, with whom they'd agreed to a deal last month. Meredith, of course, pitched the last year and a half with the Orioles after spending three and a

Nationals trade Justin Maxwell to Yankees

The Nationals designated Justin Maxwell for assignment last week, taking the outfielder off their 40-man roster and making it unlikely he would ever fulfill his promise as the team's center fielder of the future. Today, they officially ended their association with Maxwell. The Nationals traded Maxwell, an Olney, Md., native they took in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, to the New York Yankees

The Nationals' catching battle

When the Nationals' pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Viera, Fla., two weeks from yesterday, there figure to be only a few legitimate battles for spots on their 25-man roster. But the spots that are up for grabs will likely be contested throughout the spring. And of those few spots, there might not be one more intriguing than the second catcher's spot. Here's

Which teams had baseball's best, worst offseasons? (updated)

We're only a couple weeks out from spring training, so that means we're coming up on our last two editions of the Tuesday Talker List. And it's officially February, which means we can, for the most part, start assessing grades for each team's offseason. I'm obviously not looking for a recap of the winters of each team, but here's my question to you today: Which

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