VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium was buzzing this morning, packed with pitchers and catchers in advance of their first official workout of the spring. Jonathan Papelbon took control of the stereo and blasted country music throughout the room, which came alive with players, coaches and others laughing and introducing themselves to newcomers.
There are plenty of position players here already, as well, including Bryce Harper, who strolled in this morning. (No, he wasn't cradling his MVP award as he walked through the door.) Among the other early arrivals: Anthony Rendon, Ben Revere, Danny Espinosa, Clint Robinson, Michael Taylor, Chris Heisey, Tony Campana, Reed Johnson and Scott Sizemore.
Those position players will hold an informal workout of their own inside the stadium, beginning at 10 a.m. At the same time, the pitchers and catchers will begin their first official workout at the practice fields next to the minor-league complex down the road.
I asked Dusty Baker yesterday what kind of camp he runs, whether he likes it to be regimented or more free-flowing. Here's his answer, which caught me a little by surprise...
"It's regimented," he said. "I think guys like regimentation. But it's free-flowing at the same time. I like things run on time. I'm a big stickler on time and promptness. You're going to have to be here all day to accomplish your goal, which No. 1 is to get in shape, and No. 2 to get in shape both mentally and spiritually. I run a camp where I try to be firm but fair, and let guys be themselves."
Now before you start worrying that Baker is going to be Matt Williams 2.0, with every second of every workout mapped out months in advance, I don't think that's going to be the case. Dusty does seem to like structure - the man was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve way back in the day - but he also wants his players to have fun and be loose. I think we'll see a combination of both this spring.
As for what's on top today, the highlights (as are usually the case with these early workouts) are the bullpen throwing sessions. Half of the pitchers are scheduled to throw off the mound today, the other half tomorrow, divided into groups of four. Here's who is scheduled to throw this morning...
Group 1: Tanner Roark, Joe Ross, Max Scherzer, Yusmiero Petit
Group 2: Sammy Solis, Matt Grace, Nick Lee, Sean Burnett
Group 3: Rafael Martin, Taylor Jordan, Erik Davis, Nick Masset
Group 4: Austin Voth, Paolo Espino, Abel De Los Santos, Wander Suero
When they're not in the bullpen, pitchers will be moving from station to station, working on all the old spring training fundamental standbys: PFP (pitchers fielding practice), pickoff moves, bunting, covering first base, etc.
Check back throughout the day for updates and some observations ...