Vanilla is tasty enough for Scherzer in spring start vs. Mets (Nats win 9-4)

Vanilla is tasty enough for Scherzer in spring start vs. Mets (Nats win 9-4)
NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 9, Mets 4 Recap: The first of at least 25 head-to-head meetings in 2016 (six in spring training, 19 in the regular season) between these National League East rivals didn't have near the importance that future showdowns likely will, but the Nationals happily put together a quality performance all around to thump the defending division champs. Their new-look lineup burst out of the gates for four runs in the bottom of the first against right-hander Rafael...
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Netting expanding to far edge of dugouts at Nationals Park

Netting expanding to far edge of dugouts at Nationals Park
VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals are expanding the netting behind the plate at their ballpark this season in response to Major League Baseball's recent push for better fan safety. The netting at Nationals Park, which previously sat between the two dugouts, now will extend to the far end of each dugout. "In December, Major League Baseball released new guidelines regarding field netting," said Jennifer Giglio, Nationals vice president of communications. "An internal review of those guidelines led...
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Wilson Ramos returns to D.C. for LASIK surgery

Wilson Ramos returns to D.C. for LASIK surgery
VIERA, Fla. - Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos left camp this morning and returned to Washington, D.C., for LASIK eye surgery in an attempt to improve his vision. Ramos didn't suffer from any injury or ailment, manager Dusty Baker said. The problem simply was discovered during the annual eye exam all players are given as part of their spring training physical. "They just discovered it," Baker said. "That's the reason why they didn't do it earlier, when you do the exams and all that stuff....
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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Viera

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Viera
VIERA, Fla. - There will be far more at stake when the Nationals and Mets for the first time in the regular season in May (and each time through September, perhaps beyond), but any time these two rivals get together on the diamond, it's worth a little extra attention. After the way things played out last year, this has become by far the best current rivalry in the National League East. After a 6-2 victory over the Rays in Port Charlotte yesterday, the Nationals get to host New York in their...
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Observations and quotes from Wednesday's victory

Observations and quotes from Wednesday's victory
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Dusty Baker is undefeated as Nationals manager. OK, so it was only the Grapefruit League opener. And it came in a game played almost exclusively by reserves and prospects. And it won't show up anywhere on Baker's career managerial record. But the Nats put together a solid all-around effort in defeating the Rays 6-2 at Charlotte Sports Park, rewarding their new skipper in his return to the dugout after a two-year hiatus. So, Dusty, was it just like riding a bike? "Aw, I...
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Roark strong in spring debut, Ross labors out of bullpen (Nats win 6-2)

Roark strong in spring debut, Ross labors out of bullpen (Nats win 6-2)
NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 6, Rays 2 Recap: The Nationals didn't bring any regular starting position players on the 3 1/2-hour bus ride to Port Charlotte, but they still acquitted themselves well in their Grapefruit League opener, thanks to solid pitching and one big blast. Tanner Roark was sharp during a scoreless two-inning start, striking out the final three batters he faced. Joe Ross labored some out of the bullpen, but the two runs he allowed in two innings were unearned. The...
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After two-year hiatus, Dusty Baker relishes return to dugout

After two-year hiatus, Dusty Baker relishes return to dugout
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Dusty Baker hadn't given very much thought to the subject because he's been too busy getting to know a 62-man spring training roster and everything else involved in managing a new ballclub, including a 3 1/2-hour bus ride from Viera that departed at 7 a.m. But when Baker did arrive at Charlotte Sports Park, stepped onto the field and into the visitors dugout, his return to baseball after a two-year absence moved a step closer to reality. There was a game to manage...
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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Rays in Port Charlotte

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Rays in Port Charlotte
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla - After five long months, the Nationals today will take the field and play another team in an actual (exhibition) baseball game. No, it's not opening day, but it is the Grapefruit League opener, and that counts for something, right? Game 1 of 31 total exhibitions to be played over the next month in Florida and Washington takes place clear on the other side of the state from the Nationals' home base. This is their first-ever trip to Rays camp, and all it takes for them to...
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Wrapping up the final day of workouts at Nats camp

Wrapping up the final day of workouts at Nats camp
VIERA, Fla - This was something of a historic day here: the final workout for the Nationals at the practice fields down the street from Space Coast Stadium. From here on out, all workouts will take place inside the ballpark, prior to Grapefruit League games. And, of course, next spring the Nats will be opening their new shared complex with the Astros in West Palm Beach. (At least, that's what everyone hopes and assumes will happen.) For all the flaws this complex and this location have...
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Pitchers break up monotony of camp with ... Wiffle ball

Pitchers break up monotony of camp with ... Wiffle ball
VIERA, Fla - There comes a point every spring where the monotony of workouts really sets in, when pitchers' fielding practice and defensive fundamentals and pick-off drills just don't cut it anymore. That point came today, the final day of workouts before Grapefruit League play commences. Recognizing this, Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux figured out a way to get his players the work they needed while at the same time breaking up the monotony with a fun contest: Wiffle ball. Yes, Wiffle...
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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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