Zimmerman taking it slow and steady this spring, by design

Zimmerman taking it slow and steady this spring, by design
VIERA, Fla - When the Nationals embark early Wednesday morning on the three-hour drive to Port Charlotte for their Grapefruit League opener against the Rays, Ryan Zimmerman won't be on the bus. Then again, neither will any of the projected regular members of their starting lineup, veterans who generally don't have to make such a long spring training road trip. Zimmerman, though, isn't expected to be in the lineup for Thursday's home opener at Space Coast Stadium, even though several other...
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For Trea Turner, baseball is the easy part

For Trea Turner, baseball is the easy part
VIERA, Fla. - Forgive Trea Turner if the 2015 season remains a blur in his mind. He did, after all, play at three different levels of professional baseball, wearing four different uniforms for two different franchises. It all culminated with a six-week stint in Washington, Turner's first in the major leagues, in which he played in 27 games, dealt with the highs and lows of a pennant race, and got to be part of a no-hitter. And what was the biggest thing he took away from the whole...
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Observations and quotes from Monday at Nats camp

Observations and quotes from Monday at Nats camp
VIERA, Fla - Some more observations and quotes from today's second (and final) intrasquad game ... * Stephen Strasburg cruised through his first game-like appearance of the spring, retiring the side in the first inning on 16 pitches. He induced a pair of ground balls to the right side of the infield and then struck out Tyler Moore on a curveball. Strasburg's goal in this very preliminary outing was simple. "At this point, just go out there and try to command the fastball, mix in some...
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Arroyo impresses in first appearance versus hitters since surgery

Arroyo impresses in first appearance versus hitters since surgery
VIERA, Fla - It was one inning of relief, three batters faced, in an intrasquad game played before noon in front of several dozen fans on the final day of February. Not typically the kind of setting evaluators put much stock in when watching ballplayers. For Bronson Arroyo, this did carry significance. He hadn't faced any live hitters in anything resembling an actual baseball game since June 15, 2014, his last appearance in a major league stadium. This was Arroyo's first chance to make a...
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Pitching dominates during Nats' final intrasquad game

Pitching dominates during Nats' final intrasquad game
VIERA, Fla. - Intrasquad games in late February aren't designed so much for hitters as they are for pitchers, who use this opportunity to bridge the gap between live batting practice sessions and their first Grapefruit League outings later this week. So don't read too much into the dominant pitching that was on display today in the Nationals' second (and final) intrasquad matchup of the spring. The eight-inning "game" featured only two runs (one unearned) and saw only one clean hit...
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Starting lineups for Monday's intrasquad game

Starting lineups for Monday's intrasquad game
VIERA, Fla. - If yesterday's intrasquad game wasn't enough to whet your appetite for exhibition baseball, you're in luck: The Nationals are holding another intrasquad showdown today! It'll be the same format as yesterday's game. First pitch at 11 a.m., with free admission to the public. Pitchers are scheduled to go one inning apiece, and the game will be a maximum of eight innings. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez get the starts, their first game-like appearances of the spring. Several...
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Baker meets with Torre, Leyland about replay, rule changes

Baker meets with Torre, Leyland about replay, rule changes
VIERA, Fla. - Dusty Baker was out of baseball only two years, but a lot happened in those two years, most notably the expansion of instant replay in the sport. So Baker's biggest challenge now that he's managing the Nationals after a couple of years away from the game might have nothing to do with lineups or pitching changes, but replay challenge strategy. Baker got something of a crash course in that subject, plus Major League Baseball's recent rule changes, during a two-hour meeting this...
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Observations and quotes from Sunday's intrasquad game

Observations and quotes from Sunday's intrasquad game
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals held their first intrasquad game of the spring (actually, their first intrasquad game in years) today. And the final score was ... uh, well ... I don't know. I do know the Nationals won, beating the Nationals. Unless they tied. Which is possible. (Loyal reader Mark Strattner, who was in attendance, reports the final score was 4-1, with Joe Ross' team victorious. I'll take his word for it.) Suffice it to say, this wasn't exactly a traditional ballgame. Everybody...
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Nationals react to Desmond's signing, position switch

Nationals react to Desmond's signing, position switch
VIERA, Fla. - Ian Desmond finally has a new home. And a new position. Desmond has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Rangers worth $8 million, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Surprising as the low dollar figure and late timing of his signing is, even more surprising is the fact Texas plans to play the lifelong shortstop in left field. Such was the state of this offseason for Desmond, whose stock plummeted due to the combination of a subpar year with the Nationals,...
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Nats hit the field Sunday morning for intrasquad game

Nats hit the field Sunday morning for intrasquad game
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals haven't traditionally held intrasquad games at spring training, but Dusty Baker has. And what Dusty wants, Dusty gets. So it is that the Nats will split up into two teams this morning and play a pseudo-exhibition game against each other. Just don't count on this resembling anything like an official game. For one thing, the plan is to play at most eight innings. Possibly fewer than that, if all the pitchers get used up. Each pitcher is scheduled to throw one inning,...
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Players soak in Davey Lopes' knowledge on the bases

Players soak in Davey Lopes' knowledge on the bases
VIERA, Fla. - Davey Lopes has been doing this - either as a player, a coach or a manager - for more than four decades now. Baserunning is his livelihood, and few have ever done - or taught - it better. So when the 70-year-old first base coach (reunited with the Nationals a decade after he held that same position on Frank Robinson's staff) stood on Field 2 outside Space Coast Stadium this morning offering a 45-minute clinic on the craft of baserunning, every position player on the roster was...
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Observations and quotes from Saturday's workout (with videos)

Observations and quotes from Saturday's workout (with videos)
VIERA, Fla. - Some observations, notes and quotes about today's full-squad workout, the final one before intrasquad games start up Sunday ... * The session opened with a lengthy baserunning clinic run by Davey Lopes. I'll have a full post on this later, but just know the session lasted about 45 minutes and literally covered every base. Lopes started with everyone at the plate, then moved to first base, second base and third base. It was as comprehensive a clinic as I can remember seeing on...
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It's Scherzer vs. Ross in Sunday's intrasquad game

It's Scherzer vs. Ross in Sunday's intrasquad game
VIERA, Fla. - It's a lazy Saturday morning here at Nationals camp, the doldrums of spring training starting to set in. Everyone is heading over to the back fields now for another full-squad workout, featuring the usual live BP sessions, defensive drills, etc. The biggest news of the morning so far: Danny Espinosa shaved his beard. Given how big it had grown, it might well have taken two hours to do it. You'll be happy to know (or perhaps horrified to know) that Danny had his official...
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Saturday morning Q&A from Nats camp

Saturday morning Q&A from Nats camp
VIERA, Fla. - Spring training has now officially been underway for more than a week, and though more than five weeks still remain until opening day, enough has taken place here in Viera to start getting a sense of how the 2016 Nationals look. Dusty Baker (along with his coaching staff) has begun to put his stamp on this franchise. Bryce Harper has forgiven Jonathan Papelbon and proclaimed he won't put any limits on himself, even in the wake of an MVP performance. Ryan Zimmerman reported...
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News and notes to wrap up the work week in Viera

News and notes to wrap up the work week in Viera
VIERA, Fla. - Some odds and ends to wrap up the work week at Nationals spring training ... * We had a rare, star-studded matchup in live batting practice this morning, with Max Scherzer on the mound to face a group of hitters that included Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. That sort of thing doesn't happen very often. (I recall a last-minute session last spring that pitted Harper against Stephen Strasburg, but that's about the only other showdown of this caliber I can remember taking place...
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Injury-plagued season behind him, Rendon starts anew

Injury-plagued season behind him, Rendon starts anew
VIERA, Fla. - It was a seemingly innocuous play, a simple dive to field a hard bouncer to his left. Anthony Rendon made the play, snagging Alberto Callaspo's chopper and firing a one-hopper to first to nail the Braves infielder. The sparse crowd at Space Coast Stadium applauded. Who could have known at the time that last March 9 play would have such lasting consequences for Rendon, and perhaps the Nationals as a whole? "Just bad luck," Rendon said this week, recalling the incident. What at...
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Werth returns to camp, believes he can return to past form

Werth returns to camp, believes he can return to past form
VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth was back at Space Coast Stadium this morning, still under the weather but feeling better than he did Thursday, when the Nationals sent him home so his illness wouldn't spread through the clubhouse. A day or two off at this early stage of the spring won't do anything to set Werth back in his preparation for the season. But as he approaches 37, with a surgically repaired right shoulder he suggested still isn't 100 percent and a history of freak-yet-serious left wrist...
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Baker's message: "Think like a family"

Baker's message: "Think like a family"
VIERA, Fla. - Dusty Baker had plenty of time to think about what he wanted to say to his new Nationals roster in his first full-squad meeting Thursday morning. He prepared an outline in his mind, but he has always preferred not to write out an actual speech in advance. He'd rather speak from the heart once the time arrives. So what was Baker's message when he finally opened his mouth before Thursday's first full-squad workout of the spring? "You want them to start thinking like a...
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Observations and quotes from Thursday's workout

Observations and quotes from Thursday's workout
VIERA, Fla. - Conditions weren't exactly ideal when the Nationals trotted onto the back fields outside Space Coast Stadium for their first full squad workout of the spring. Temperatures in the 50s? A 30-mph wind howling from the northwest? Not quite what Dusty Baker expected. "It was kind of chilly, considering we're in Florida," the new manager said. "But they didn't say anything. They just worked, which is what I like." Some observations (non-weather-related) from today's workout...
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Sent home sick, Jayson Werth misses first workout

Sent home sick, Jayson Werth misses first workout
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals' first full-squad workout of the spring came and went without one of the club's most recognizable players in attendance. Jayson Werth was absent from this morning's workout on the fields outside Space Coast Stadium due to an illness that left the veteran outfielder in bed. "We sent him home," manager Dusty Baker said. "He was sick. So we quarantined him. We didn't want him to spread it." Werth had appeared at the stadium several times earlier this week,...
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