Five reasons to be optimistic about the 2016 Nationals

Five reasons to be optimistic about the 2016 Nationals
There is no rational way to review the Nationals' just-completed spring and not emerge optimistic. Pretty much everything of consequence the Nationals needed to see or do over the last six weeks came to fruition. There were hardly any setbacks along the way. Players are healthy. The new manager has instilled a much-needed laid-back and confident vibe around the clubhouse. And then there's the actual on-field performance. The Nationals won the mythical Grapefruit League pennant, going a...
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Nats close out spring with another offensive outburst (Nats rip Mets 12-1)

Nats close out spring with another offensive outburst (Nats rip Mets 12-1)
NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 12, Mets 1 Recap: After two straight rainouts, the Nationals finally got a chance to play a full game without interruption this afternoon, then proceeded to stomp on their National League East rivals in their Grapefruit League finale. Ryan Zimmerman homered off Matt Harvey, Jayson Werth homered off Noah Syndergaard and Stephen Drew homered off Zack Thornton to lead the power attack. With Max Scherzer held back in Viera to pitch in a minor league game, the...
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Dusty Baker on the altered pitching schedule and final decisions

Dusty Baker on the altered pitching schedule and final decisions
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Nationals' Grapefruit League finale today got underway on time, with sunshine actually hovering over Tradition Field. This was no mundane fact, considering the weather the Nats have had to deal with over the last week. Four rainouts in 10 games, including back-to-back washouts the last two days, forced Dusty Baker and pitching coach Mike Maddux to alter their plans, multiple times over. To wit: Max Scherzer originally was scheduled to start Tuesday's game against...
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With rain again in forecast, Nats using relievers only today vs. Mets

With rain again in forecast, Nats using relievers only today vs. Mets
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - And so, after 42 days of camp, 24 completed exhibition games and four rainouts, the final day of spring training has arrived. The Nationals and Mets are set to square off here at Tradition Field, a preview of what could be quite an entertaining pennant race all season between these two rivals ... if they're able to play this one. Yes, once again there's rain in the forecast. The tarp has been on the infield all morning and batting practice was canceled. It does appear...
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Breaking down the final bench candidates

Breaking down the final bench candidates
JUPITER, Fla. - The Nationals essentially have two more roster decisions to make by Sunday's major league deadline. One involves the bullpen. The other involves the bench. We've gone through the various bullpen options (which are complicated some by the possibility of the Nats carrying eight relievers until they need a fifth starter on April 13), but we haven't spent as much time running discussing the final bench options. There are all sorts of factors to consider here. It's not nearly as...
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Nats, Strasburg try to adjust after yet another rainout

Nats, Strasburg try to adjust after yet another rainout
JUPITER, Fla. - There are two ways to react to bad weather: complain about it or just accept it. Dusty Baker most definitely takes the latter approach. The Nationals manager could be lamenting the fact that four of his team's last 10 exhibition games have been rained out, but he knows it wouldn't make the clouds go away, so why bother? "You've still got to deal with it," Baker said after today's game against the Cardinals was called in the top of the fourth when a thunderstorm struck...
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Nats rained out for fourth time in their last 10 games

Nats rained out for fourth time in their last 10 games
JUPITER, Fla. - The Nationals simply can't catch a break with Mother Nature right now. They also probably can't wait to get out of Florida after a week of scorching heat, humidity and enough rain and lightning to significantly interfere with their end-of-spring preparation. It happened again today, with a thunderstorm sweeping through Roger Dean Stadium and forcing the cancelation of the Nationals' game against the Cardinals in the top of the fourth inning. This is the fourth time in their...
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Nats want Turner to work on defense, leadership at Triple-A

Nats want Turner to work on defense, leadership at Triple-A
JUPITER, Fla. - Trea Turner knew the cards were stacked against him to make the Nationals' opening day roster. So when the news came down Monday afternoon that he was being sent to Triple-A, the 22-year-old shortstop wasn't shocked. That doesn't mean Turner wasn't disappointed to learn he'll be opening the season in Syracuse, especially after he got a taste of Washington and the big leagues late last season. "I would assume that nobody ever wants to go back," he said. "You get spoiled a...
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Strasburg faces Cardinals in final spring tune-up

Strasburg faces Cardinals in final spring tune-up
JUPITER, Fla. - Hello from Roger Dean Stadium. Again. Why does it feel like we're here every other day? Probably because we are. This is the Nationals' third scheduled game in Jupiter in the last five days. The first (against the Marlins) was rained out. Then they played the Cardinals on Saturday. Now they're playing St. Louis one more time this afternoon. After yesterday's rainout in the scheduled finale at Space Coast Stadium, Stephen Strasburg was pushed back to start today. He'll be...
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Belisle officially added to roster, will make opening day bullpen

Belisle officially added to roster, will make opening day bullpen
JUPITER, Fla. - The Nationals officially made Matt Belisle a part of their opening day roster this morning, purchasing the veteran reliever's contract. Belisle, 35, had been in camp as a minor league invitee but all along appeared to be a strong candidate to make the club given his experience and ties to Dusty Baker, who managed him in Cincinnati. The right-hander has appeared in six Grapefruit League games so far, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk in 6 1/3 innings. (All three runs...
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Why we shouldn't make too big a deal out of the opening day roster

Why we shouldn't make too big a deal out of the opening day roster
VIERA, Fla. - Monday's flurry of transactions moved the Nationals closer to finalizing their opening day roster, but they didn't completely settle the matter. If anything, the club now faces a couple of really difficult decisions in rounding out its bench and bullpen. "I wish we could carry 27, 28 guys, but you can't," manager Dusty Baker said. "Whoever it is, it's going to be tough. Because players have fans. They all have fans. One way or another, it's probably not a very popular...
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Turner demotion highlights busy afternoon of transactions

Turner demotion highlights busy afternoon of transactions
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals made several key transactions following today's rained-out finale at Space Coast Stadium, though not enough to bring absolute clarity to their opening day roster. Trea Turner, the organization's top position player prospect who came to camp trying to win the starting shortstop job, was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse in a move that had grown in likelihood over the course of the spring. Reliever Rafael Martin also was optioned to Syracuse, while outfielder Tony...
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Final spring game at Space Coast Stadium rained out

Final spring game at Space Coast Stadium rained out
VIERA, Fla. - Maybe Mother Nature just couldn't bear the thought of watching the Nationals and Marlins play the final Grapefruit League game ever at Space Coast Stadium. Today's finale wound up getting canceled after the ballpark was drenched by a storm that swept through Central Florida and left the field and warning track under water. It won't be rescheduled. The Nationals desperately wanted to get this game in, both for sentimental reasons - it was going to be their final spring training...
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Baker trots out potential opening day lineup for Viera finale (game canceled)

Baker trots out potential opening day lineup for Viera finale (game canceled)
VIERA, Fla. - And so we have come to this historic moment: the final spring training game ever played at Space Coast Stadium. And it's only fitting that it features the only two franchises that have called this place home since it opened in 1994: the Nationals and Marlins. The Marlins, who have trained in Jupiter since 2003, aren't bringing anybody here today who would have been a part of those teams that played in this ballpark back in the day. They aren't bringing much of anybody of...
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A final and fond farewell to Viera

A final and fond farewell to Viera
VIERA, Fla. - The question inevitably would come from someone every February, once you mentioned you were getting ready to leave for spring training. "Where do the Nationals train?" "Uh, it's a town called Viera. You've probably never heard of it." "Vero Beach?" "No, Viera. It's near Melbourne." "Where's that?" "Do you know where Cocoa Beach is?" "Sort of." "Well, it's ... eh, it's 45 minutes east of Orlando." You'd have thought after 12 years folks would have learned...
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Thoughts and observations on Nats' 7-2 win over Braves

Thoughts and observations on Nats' 7-2 win over Braves
VIERA, Fla. - Some thoughts, observations and quotes from today's 7-2 Nationals split-squad victory over the Braves in the penultimate spring training game ever at Space Coast Stadium ... * Gio Gonzalez probably put together his best start of the spring. Yes, he gave up a couple of runs and seven hits over six innings. But most importantly, he didn't walk anybody after issuing four free passes in each of his last three starts. "I felt great knowing there were no walks," he said. "I know I...
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Nats trade Moore to Braves for fellow first baseman Freiman

Nats trade Moore to Braves for fellow first baseman Freiman
VIERA, Fla. - Tyler Moore's time in the Nationals organization officially ended today when the recently demoted first baseman was traded to the Braves for fellow 29-year-old minor leaguer Nate Freiman. Moore had been outrighted to minor league camp Friday evening after clearing waivers, a transaction that kept him in the organization but removed him from the 40-man roster. Two days later, the Nationals and Braves found common ground on a trade for two players with similar traits. Freiman...
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Potent Nats lineup continues to rake vs. Braves (Nats beat Braves, tie Mets)

Potent Nats lineup continues to rake vs. Braves (Nats beat Braves, tie Mets)
NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Scores: Nationals (ss) 7, Braves 2; Nationals (ss) 4, Mets 4 Recap: Forced to split their squad into two rosters despite the late date on the spring calendar, the Nationals kept most of their regulars in Viera to face the Braves. That group continued its impressive offensive production, rapping out 10 hits off starter Jhoulys Chacin. Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman delivered back-to-back RBI singles in the first inning. Brendan Ryan, trying to force his way onto the opening...
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Nats hoping good health carries over into regular season

Nats hoping good health carries over into regular season
VIERA, Fla. - As they count down the final days of spring, the Nationals also can count their blessings, thankful they have mostly avoided the kind of significant injuries that have plagued them in previous years. Think back only 12 months ago. When the Nationals headed north for opening day, they were without their projected No. 1 (Denard Span), No. 2 (Anthony Rendon) and No. 3 (Jayson Werth) hitters. They were without their projected primary set-up man (Casey Janssen). And though he wasn't...
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Nats split-squads host Braves on MASN, face Mets in Port St. Lucie

Nats split-squads host Braves on MASN, face Mets in Port St. Lucie
VIERA, Fla. - The countdown has begun. There are only four days' worth of games left down here, and only two games left to be played at Space Coast Stadium ever. Before we go to tomorrow's teary-eyed finale, though, the Nationals first must play split-squad games today. They've got the Braves here in Viera and the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Most of the regulars, as is custom, are playing in the home game. And most are scheduled to play nine innings, something that becomes important during this...
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