Scherzer ramping up pitches, batting for himself today in Viera

Scherzer ramping up pitches, batting for himself today in Viera
VIERA, Fla. - There are several signs that you've reached the home stretch of spring training - starting pitchers going five to six innings, position players going back-to-back days, empty lockers throughout the clubhouse after players were cut - but here's another sign that the end is almost here: No more DH. Yes, Max Scherzer will be batting for himself this afternoon, the first time this spring a Nationals pitcher has stepped to the plate in a game. Scherzer also is slated to throw up to...
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Efficient Strasburg strikes out nine Yankees on 68 pitches

Efficient Strasburg strikes out nine Yankees on 68 pitches
VIERA, Fla. - No, it didn't come against anything that remotely resembled the Yankees' regular lineup, but all Stephen Strasburg can do is pitch against the lineup that goes up there to face him. And he pitched awfully well this evening, no matter who those guys were wearing Yankees jerseys at the plate. Strasburg struck out nine over five scoreless innings without issuing a walk. He did surrender six hits but came through with some perfectly executed pitches when he needed them most to...
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Nats put a hurting on Tanaka with seven early runs (Nats rout Yankees 13-0)

Nats put a hurting on Tanaka with seven early runs (Nats rout Yankees 13-0)
NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 13, Yankees 0 Recap: Stephen Strasburg dominated the Yankees' traveling lineup, striking out nine over five scoreless innings and needing only 68 pitches (51 strikes) to do it. It helped that Strasburg's teammates gave him a huge cushion early: They racked up seven runs off Masahiro Tanaka, six of them coming during a third-inning explosion. Stephen Drew and Wilson Ramos each homered during that rally. Anthony Rendon rapped out three hits of his own off...
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Baker on tough decisions, Perez on returning from WBC

Baker on tough decisions, Perez on returning from WBC
VIERA, Fla. - As the days down here dwindle, the Nationals must prepare to make their toughest decisions of the spring: the final roster spots on their bench and in their bullpen. And though baseball executives and managers typically won't admit it, there oftentimes are more to these decisions than the simple question of which player is better than the other. "Contrary to popular belief, contractual things do make a difference sometimes on who you're trying to keep," manager Dusty Baker...
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Giolito sent down, but Nats expect him in D.C. before long

Giolito sent down, but Nats expect him in D.C. before long
VIERA, Fla. - Lucas Giolito knew the situation when he walked into the clubhouse for his first big league camp last month. He wasn't here to make the Nationals' opening day roster. He was here to get as much experience and soak up as much knowledge as possible before he was sent back to the minors to continue his development. So when the roster move finally came today - the Nationals officially reassigned him to minor league camp - Giolito took everything in stride. "I had assumed going in...
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Strasburg, regulars take on Yankees in the twilight

Strasburg, regulars take on Yankees in the twilight
VIERA, Fla. - Rested and refreshed from their only day off this spring, the Nationals are back at it later this afternoon, hosting the ... well, it's not quite the New York Yankees, though it's still better than the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka made the long trip over from Tampa to start this game. Brett Gardner is here, as well. But that's it as far as projected members of their everyday lineup. The Nationals, on the other hand, have Stephen Strasburg on the mound and a...
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Five questions facing the Nats over the final week of camp

Five questions facing the Nats over the final week of camp
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals enjoyed their lone day off of the entire spring Tuesday - who am I kidding, reporters covering the Nats really enjoyed their lone day off of the entire spring - but now they return to the field for the home stretch. There are eight remaining days of Grapefruit League games, beginning at 5:05 p.m. this afternoon when the Nationals host the Yankees (televised on MASN, by the way). Up to this point, the spring has been about making sure everyone gets their work in and...
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For Wilson Ramos, seeing is believing after LASIK surgery

For Wilson Ramos, seeing is believing after LASIK surgery
VIERA, Fla. - It seems too simple an explanation to actually be true. Then again, sometimes the simplest explanation really does apply. Wilson Ramos struggled at the plate last season. Despite avoiding the disabled list for the first time in his major league career, the Nationals catcher posted a career-worst .229 batting average, .258 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage while striking out in a career-high 20 percent of his plate appearances. Then earlier this month, Ramos left...
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Burke Badenhop among latest relievers cut from camp

Burke Badenhop among latest relievers cut from camp
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals trimmed their list of bullpen candidates by three after today's game, reassigning right-handers Burke Badenhop, Erik Davis and Michael Brady to minor league camp. None of the three moves was surprising, but Badenhop entered camp with a realistic shot to make the roster given his track record of success. The 33-year-old right-hander, who signed as a minor league free agent during the first week of spring training, owns a 3.74 ERA in 418 career big league games with...
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Weary new father Gonzalez tries to get back to work (Nats win 5-3)

Weary new father Gonzalez tries to get back to work (Nats win 5-3)
NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 5, Astros 3 Recap: Gio Gonzalez returned to the mound four days after the birth of his son and admittedly struggled at times to find the strike zone. The left-hander needed 87 pitches to get through 4 1/3 innings, though he only allowed one run. Batterymate Wilson Ramos supplied offensive support, homering to left-center to continue his recent surge since having LASIK surgery. Ryan Zimmerman later added a two-out, two-run double to expand the Nationals'...
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Planned rotation to begin season: Scherzer, Gonzalez, Strasburg

Planned rotation to begin season: Scherzer, Gonzalez, Strasburg
VIERA, Fla. - Max Scherzer will start on opening day for the Nationals. That's been known, if not officially stated, all along. The order of the Nationals rotation after Scherzer, however, may come as a surprise to some: Gio Gonzalez will start the season's second game, with Stephen Strasburg following him. Manager Dusty Baker confirmed that plan this morning, revealing that Gonzalez will pitch April 6 in Atlanta, with Strasburg starting the home opener at Nationals Park against the Marlins...
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Ross says heel "barely sore at all," expects to make next start

Ross says heel "barely sore at all," expects to make next start
VIERA, Fla. - Joe Ross says his heel is "barely sore at all" after he was struck by a comebacker during Sunday's outing against the Tigers, and that he expects to remain on schedule and make his next start as planned. Ross said once the initial shock of taking Nick Castellanos' line drive off his right heel wore off, he realized the injury wasn't serious. "The ball hit me, and I went to put my foot down and it was pretty painful at first," he said. "I think it was more the shock, a...
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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Astros in Viera

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Astros in Viera
VIERA, Fla. - I really not to complain about the weather while in Florida, because I know it falls on deaf ears up north. But facts are facts, and the fact is, it's really cold here today. The Space Coast Stadium thermometer read 48 degrees when the Nationals emerged from the clubhouse to begin stretching around 10 a.m. It's going to warm up a bit by gametime, but there's also a 20 mph steady wind blowing from the northwest. Not exactly pristine conditions for spring training. OK, that's...
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Treinen shines, but rest of bullpen struggles in loss to Tigers

Treinen shines, but rest of bullpen struggles in loss to Tigers
VIERA, Fla. - While much of the focus yesterday in Lakeland was on Bryce Harper's two homers and Joe Ross' early exit after taking a comebacker off his right heel, there were some other interesting developments during the Nationals' 7-6 loss to the Tigers. Let's run through the highlights and lowlights of the afternoon ... * Blake Treinen was outstanding during an unexpected, four-inning relief appearance. Treinen wasn't supposed to enter until the sixth, and he wasn't supposed to throw...
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Bryce Harper leaves Lakeland raving after two-homer game

Bryce Harper leaves Lakeland raving after two-homer game
LAKELAND, Fla. - Al Kaline, who only has been watching spring training games at Tiger Town since 1953, called it the longest home run he's ever seen hit here. Willie Horton, another Detroit legend, made sure to track down the young man who hit it and compliment him. Mike Maddux, having spent the last three decades in the game as a big league pitcher, coach and brother of a Hall of Famer, turned to Nationals manager Dusty Baker and gushed: "We get to watch this every day?" Lofty praise, all...
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Joe Ross leaves game with right heel contusion (Nats lose 7-6)

Joe Ross leaves game with right heel contusion (Nats lose 7-6)
NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Tigers 7, Nationals 6 Recap: After Saturday's rainout in Viera, the Nationals sent their entire lineup to Lakeland this afternoon, a rare occurrence for the 90-minute drive to Tigers camp. That lineup, of course, included Bryce Harper, who rose to the occasion by homering twice off former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, including a monster shot over the 30-foot-high batter's eye in center field. Daniel Murphy also notched a couple of hits off...
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With Revere and Murphy, Nats emphasizing contact at the plate

With Revere and Murphy, Nats emphasizing contact at the plate
LAKELAND, Fla. - Dusty Baker, as a ballplayer, was considered something of a slugger for his time. He hit at least 20 home runs six times in his career. He also felt like he struck out too often. Hank Aaron, his Hall of Fame teammate in Atlanta at the start of his career, urged young hitters to shoot for striking out only once every 10 times up. Baker couldn't quite pull that off, ending his career with a strikeout rate of 11.5 percent. Three decades later, Baker will fill out a lineup card as...
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Full Nats lineup travels to Lakeland to face Verlander

Full Nats lineup travels to Lakeland to face Verlander
LAKELAND, Fla. - Yesterday was a washout for the Nationals, literally and figuratively, since heavy rain canceled their game against the Mets before a single pitch could be thrown. As a result, manager Dusty Baker has brought his entire regular lineup to Joker Marchant Stadium for today's game against Justin Verlander and the Tigers. It's not often all these guys make the 90-minute drive to Lakeland, so this will provide a rare and intriguing matchup against a former AL MVP and Cy Young Award...
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Putting together an organizational depth chart

Putting together an organizational depth chart
VIERA, Fla. - As much as we focus on the guys who will be starting on a daily basis for the Nationals during the course of the season, spring training really is more about who will be backing up those starters, the jobs that actually are up for grabs in March. With that in mind, it seems like an appropriate time to assemble an updated organizational depth chart. This isn't anything official, just an educated glimpse at how the Nats stack up at every position on the field. This includes...
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Martinson reassigned to minors, Schafer granted release

Martinson reassigned to minors, Schafer granted release
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals trimmed their spring training roster a bit more Saturday, reassigning infielder Jason Martinson to minor league camp and granting outfielder Logan Schafer his unconditional release. Martinson hit .292 (7-for-24) with two RBI, four walks and 11 strikeouts this spring as a non-roster invitee. The 27-year-old infielder, a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft, spent last season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he hit .218 with 19 homers, 56 RBIs and a .299 on-base percentage in...
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