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 of visa issues. There were more hitters on the field today than there have been yet, with several groups of players shuttling between batting practice and bunting drills.
Here are some observations from the workout:
* The Nationals preached to players about the importance of coming to camp in shape, and that message seems to have gotten through. Wilson Ramos was among the most impressive players in the cage today, blasting a handful of homers, including a couple long shots to right field. Michael Morse also hit a couple bombs, and Derek Norris looked impressive in the batting cages.
* Matt Stairs, working out for the first time on reporting day for position players, also was sharp in the batting cages, hitting a couple homers to left. The soon-to-be 43-year-old is competing for one of the Nationals' last bench spots, and his success as a pinch hitter (he's the majors' all-time leader in pinch homers) might put him there.
* Morse was also shagging balls in left field, trying to get used to his new position.
* For those asking, Bryce Harper has dropped off his luggage, effectively having reported to camp, but was in South Carolina this weekend, where his brother Bryan is starting his career with the University of South Carolina as a junior. Bryce Harper was taking batting practice with the Gamecocks this weekend, and will arrive in Viera on Monday or Tuesday.
* Lastly, Jim Riggleman had the quote of the day this morning when talking about the health of his pitchers and the wear and tear most of them go through in their careers. "If you're late 20s to early 30s, you've had something with an 'itis' on it - tendinitis, bursitis, colitis," Riggleman said. Uh, Jim, one of those doesn't belong.
I caught up with Norris this afternoon, and will have more from him tonight.