VIERA, Fla. - In addition to providing an update on Bryce Harper's injured ankle, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo weighed in on a number of topics during a brief meeting with the media Tuesday morning.
* Rizzo considers the battle between Nyjer Morgan, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina for the team's everyday center field job to be a continuing competition. "They all bring a different skill set to the position, but I do think it's still an open competition," Rizzo said. The general manager said it would "be difficult" to keep all three left-handed hitting outfielders on the roster, but said there was no reason to make a decision until the end of spring training. "We can go until I'm comfortable with the decision," Rizzo said.
* Pitcher Elvin Ramirez, a Rule 5 draft pick from the New York Mets who has yet to pitch because of a sore right shoulder, is progressing with his rehabilitation. "He's in the long-toss phase and he's doing a shoulder rehab. I think he's pretty far along there," Rizzo said. "He'll probably step on the mound and throw a light bullpen soon." The Nationals must keep Ramirez on the 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Mets, but Washington can retain Ramirez if they place him on the disabled list. When he's healthy, he must be activated or returned to the Mets.
* Rizzo is impressed with the contributions of the team's other Rule 5 selection, right-hander Brian Broderick, who was plucked from the St. Louis organization. Broderick has posted an 0.71 ERA in eight relief outings and is positioning himself to make the 25-man opening day roster. "I not only like his stuff, I like his poise and confidence on the mound," Rizzo said. "He's done a great job for us. That's a great example of scouting at its best. It's a terrific Rule 5 selection whether he makes the club or not."
* Despite the bullpen's struggles through spring training, Rizzo is comfortable with the makeup of the relief corps. "I know there's a lot of gloom and doom I read in the newspapers from you guys. You wrote the same thing last year - I remember exactly what you wrote last year. This is spring training - it's spring training for a reason. Guys are preparing themselves for the regular season and my opinion of our bullpen going into opening day hasn't changed. I still feel we're going to have a productive bullpen." Rizzo said it's manager Jim Riggleman's decision how the closer-by-committee approach is employed. "Someone's going to take the (ninth-inning) job and run with it," Rizzo said.
* Rizzo wouldn't comment when asked whether he thought there would be any disciplinary measures meted out after Monday's bench-clearing incident against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter.
* Asked whether it would be possible that struggling right-handed reliever Drew Storen, who has an 11.74 ERA in seven spring outings, could start the season somewhere other than the majors, Rizzo said, "You're talking in generalities and possibilities. We've got eight games left. We're going to see what happens on the field. There's going to be competition for the job and there's several different scenarios that could play out."