Thursday morning notes

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Nationals roster is about to become whole again.

With the World Baseball Classic now concluded, Tanner Roark and Daniel Murphy are on their way back to Florida for the remainder of the spring. Both players, who were in uniform at Dodger Stadium last night as the United States faced Puerto Rico in the championship game, are scheduled to fly cross-country today and be back with the Nationals on Friday.

Manager Dusty Baker said he has tentatively penciled Murphy into his lineup for one of Friday's split-squad games. The veteran second baseman, who barely played during his two-plus weeks away during the WBC, now has less than a week-and-a-half to get himself ready for opening day.

Murphy, who hit .347 last season, was struggling to find his swing through the first week of Grapefruit League play, going just 3-for-17. He was 0-for-6 in the WBC, plus an additional 1-for-7 in two exhibition games the USA played before opening the tournament.

daniel-murphy-crazy-happy.jpg"We've got to get Murphy going, cause he's kind of behind on all that," Baker said. "So we've got to get him up to speed."

Roark is in better shape from a preparation standpoint. After throwing 48 pitches in four scoreless innings during Tuesday night's semifinal victory over Japan, the right-hander is on track to make two more exhibition starts (Sunday against the Astros in West Palm Beach, March 31 against the Red Sox at Nationals Park) to build up his pitch count before he makes his first start of the regular season (expected to be April 5 against the Marlins).

* Among the other tasks Baker faces as the final week of camp arrives is making sure all of his regulars get used to playing a full nine innings. That process started this week, with Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper having all gone the distance once.

Jayson Werth is slated to play all nine innings soon, as are catchers Matt Wieters and José Lobaton.

"They handled it pretty good," Baker said after several players finished Wednesday's game. "I asked Trea how was he feeling. And Trea said he's young, no effects. I've got to push Jay to nine. ... Bryce went nine yesterday, and he'll probably go nine another time, then I'll back him off some. Cause invariably you end up first week of the season playing 13 innings sometime. The guys have handled it well. All except my catchers. I didn't feel that Wieters and Lobaton were ready to go nine yet."

* Erick Fedde is scheduled to start today against the Mets (1:05 p.m. EDT on MASN), likely the prospect's final opportunity to pitch in big league camp before he is reassigned to the minors.

Fedde, the organization's top-rated pitching prospect, has been given two starts so far this spring. In four overall appearances spanning 8 2/3 innings, he has allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits, with four walks and four strikeouts.

With Roark returning from the WBC and Max Scherzer now back in the rotation after recovering from a stress fracture in his ring finger, the Nationals aren't likely to have any more available starting slots for Fedde. The 24-year-old is projected to open the season with Double-A Harrisburg.

Starting lineups: Nats vs. Mets in West Palm Beach...
Nats breathe sigh of relief after Scherzer passes ...
 

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