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 Coast Stadium today, which means we won't have much access to the Nationals' clubhouse. But Bryce Harper is supposed to talk to reporters later today, and to tide you over in the meantime, I've got Part 2 of my Q-and-A with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. Here you go:
Ben Goessling: With Harper, you guys have talked a little about the plan for him. But what do you want him to get out of being in camp this first time and being around big leaguers?
Mike Rizzo: (I want him to) get his feet wet, find out how this works, what it takes to be a big leaguer, to absorb from the experienced players here.
BG: He's going to have all the attention in the world on him. How early do you guys set him aside and say, 'You don't have to try and make the club in your first year.' How much of that do you talk to him about?
MR: I don't want to zap any of his competitive juices or anything like that. I don't think that's a conversation we'll have, specifically. I think he's going to come in, and he's going to get a lot out of the camp.
BG: You talked about guys making changes to their physique, and Roger Bernadina is obviously one that sticks out. With him coming in the way he did, and (Michael) Morse looking good, too, does that give you any kind of encouragement about the kind of production you might be able to get from those guys (in left field)?
MR: We're counting on it. We've counted on it from the winter. Roger's physical appearance last season wasn't too bad, either, and neither was Morse's or (Rick) Ankiel's or (Laynce) Nix's. Those guys are all in terrific condition, and the way they came to spring training as a group, in general, was terrific. That was a point of emphasis when the guys left. That was a point of emphasis when we talked to guys in the winter - this is a competition, we're going to compete for jobs, and it would behoove you to come into camp ready to go.
BG: How encouraging is it, then, for you to know your message got through?
MR: It's encouraging that people are taking their profession seriously, and they came here ready to get after it. I've seen the early returns on a high-energy, energetic camp where guys are going to have a lot of fun, but we're going to play hard. There are jobs to be won and money to be made, because jobs won equal money made.
I'll have more later this morning. Enjoy your snow!