Rizzo on roster depth, payroll and relationship with Baker

Mike Rizzo knows too much about injuries to his roster, having spent the majority of the 2015 season trying to patch and re-patch his Nationals club together for months after a host of key players went down.

So when it happened again on opening day in Atlanta, when Ben Revere strained a right oblique muscle on his very first swing in the very first inning, Rizzo knew he'd be calling upon his organizational depth yet again.

Rizzo-Baker-Presser-Sidebar.jpg"We try and think of every different type of scenario for injuries, but it's a 25-man roster, so you can only have certain amount of depth on the ballclub," the general manager said today prior to his club's home opener. "We like the players we have. Our backup players are real big league players. They've been through the wars before. They've had success in the big leagues on their own. And we feel when somebody go down, we have a good reserve and a good guy that can take over for him."

Rizzo saw that immediately Wednesday night, when Michael A. Taylor made two standout plays in center field in Revere's absence and the just-recalled Matt den Dekker arrived mid-game from Triple-A Syracuse and wound up driving in the game-winning runs with a pinch-hit double in the seventh inning.

Taylor is back in the lineup today against the Marlins, with den Dekker on the bench as part of the active roster. Revere is here, as well, and was introduced to the crowd with the rest of his teammates, moving gingerly out of the dugout and down the first base line.

Revere is scheduled to have an MRI taken at some point today to determine the full extent of his oblique strain. Rizzo remains hopeful it won't keep him out long-term.

"We don't think it's too serious, but we've said that before and guys have missed time," he said. "But we feel we've got enough depth that we can handle such a problem, such an injury. But we want Ben back. He's a huge part of our club. He's a catalyst. He's a leadoff man and an energy bunny that could make us well."

Among the other subjects Rizzo addressed before today's home opener:

On the club's payroll going down for the first time in nine years, and whether that will give him more flexibility to make in-season acquisitions: "The Lerner family has never been one to curtail us about putting the best team on the field. We feel good about the roster we have right now. And I would imagine if we had to pick up a player that would add to the payroll, we would certainly do that."

On how he thinks his team has come together so far: "We like the team that we put together in the winter. Spring training was great. We stayed healthy. We got a lot of work in. We found out about ourselves and what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are and how we're going to compete in a really tough division. We feel good about the personnel we have, the new medical staff we have, the coaching staff, the manager. Everything about the ballclub, we feel optimistic."

On how his relationship with manager Dusty Baker has developed: "It's terrible. It's a terrible relationship. We hate each other. We fight all the time. (Pause to take his tongue out of his cheek.) No, Dusty's a beautiful man. I've got great respect for him. Always had great respect for him. And just being this close to him, it's an honor for me to have a Hall of Fame manager. He has a way with people - not just players, but people. The doorman. Everybody he comes into contact with, he has a positive interaction with them. He's a special guy."

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