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Johnson talks Strasburg and Mattheus, says Zimmerman will DH Sunday

VIERA, Fla. - After six games, the Nationals’ spring record looks more like one a hockey team would see next to its name in the standings: 1-3-2. That’s now two ties in the last five games, something Nats manager Davey Johnson isn’t a fan of. “Awful,” Johnson said with a laugh. “But at least we got 10 innings in and more guys got at-bats. (Ryan)

Strasburg on his repertoire, what he’s focusing on going forward (4-4 final in 10)

VIERA, Fla. - It’s 4-4 after seven innings here at Space Coast Stadium, as these two National League East squads have traded runs the entire evening. Yunesky Maya allowed single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, surrendering three hits and two walks in his two innings of work. Stephen Strasburg took a few positives out of his outing against the Mets tonight, a three-inning

Strasburg strikes out six in three strong innings

VIERA, Fla. - It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty impressive. Stephen Strasburg got into a bit of trouble in his three innings of work tonight, surrendering three hits and two walks and allowing a first-inning run after a Mike Baxter sacrifice fly brought in Jordany Valdespin. Apparently Valdespin reaches base every single time he comes to the plate against the Nationals. Strasburg still looked

Johnson talks Strasburg limits, Rodriguez, Abad

VIERA, Fla. - Yes, the headline says “Strasburg limits.” Get your jokes out of the way now. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that Stephen Strasburg will be on a 60-pitch limit tonight for his second start of spring. Pitching coach Steve McCatty likes to hold all starters to around 45 pitches their first time out, and it ups to 60 pitches for the second start.

Young pleased with first live BP (plus Mets, Nats lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - Because shoulder issues have plagued Chris Young for much of the last few years, it’s been a while since he’s had a normal spring training. Yesterday, Young took the mound on one of the side fields at the Nationals complex and threw his first live batting practice since signing a minor league deal with the team last week. That’s something that he

A name to watch in the race for the final bullpen spot

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals will host the Mets at Space Coast Stadium tonight, with first pitch coming at 6:05 p.m. Because the game is at night and at home, the Nationals won’t have a workout today until 2 p.m. The players not participating in road night games work out at Space Coast Stadium in the morning, but for home night games, the workouts are

Johnson on Nats’ loss, Young and Soriano’s mound sessions

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals might have had six projected opening day starters in their lineup this afternoon against the Marlins, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the line score from today’s 5-1 loss. Davey Johnson’s bunch, which included Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche for the first time this spring, managed just three hits, only one of which came in the first seven

Hearing from Haren following his spring debut (Nats lose)

VIERA, Fla. - It’s 5-1 Marlins as we go to the ninth inning here at Space Coast Stadium. After Craig Stammen relieved Dan Haren and pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts, Tanner Roark gave up four runs in his 1 1/3 innings of work, putting Miami up big. The Nationals loaded the bases with none out in the eighth, but brought across just one

Haren starts slow, then settles in

VIERA, Fla. - Even though Dan Haren has pitched in 10 big league seasons, it’s entirely possible he was a little nervous in his first inning of spring. Today was Haren’s first time pitching in a Nationals uniform, and his first time on a mound in a game situation in about five months. I wouldn’t blame the guy if he had some nerves early on.

Young, Soriano throw live BP, Rodriguez is next (with Vasquez note)

VIERA, Fla. - Javier Vasquez has pulled out of the World Baseball Classic and decided not to pitch in the major leagues this season, according to El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper. The Nationals had scouted Vasquez in Puerto Rico this offseason prior to the veteran right-hander suffering a meniscus injury. General manager Mike Rizzo went down to watch Vasquez in person, and had

Pregame notes on Zimmerman, Ramos, Kimball (plus lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - The Marlins have arrived at Space Coast Stadium, and after all the roster turnover that team underwent this offseason, Davey Johnson doesn’t really know exactly what he’s looking at. “I’m still trying to learn their names,” Johnson said. “And I’m not even sure what position the names are going in.” The Marlins will have Donovan Solano starting at second base today -he’s

It’s only spring training, but Harper wants in

VIERA, Fla. - After having a rain delay of at least an hour disrupt two of the Nationals’ last three games, it looks like we’re in the clear for today’s 1 p.m. game against the Marlins at Space Coast Stadium. That is, unless I’ve jinxed us. If it starts pouring this afternoon, I’ll have no one to blame but myself. Dan Haren will get the

Johnson talks Detwiler, Harper, Perry

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Had the rain postponed today’s game between the Nationals and Braves, Ross Detwiler’s pitching schedule would have gotten thrown all out of whack. Detwiler was scheduled to start today and then get one more outing with the Nats on March 3 before joining Team USA for the World Baseball Classic on March 4. If the rain that fell heavily from

Detwiler discusses his debut (Nats lose 9-5)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - It’s a 9-5 Braves lead here at Champion Field as we enter the ninth inning. Anthony Rendon and Sandy Leon delivered back-to-back RBI doubles in the eighth to make it a four-run game. It would be easy to disregard Ross Detwiler’s spring debut as a worthless Grapefruit League game against the Braves, an outing that Detwiler could toss aside as

Perry roughed up by the Braves’ bench

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Things started just fine for Ryan Perry here today. Perry came into this afternoon’s game in the third inning with two runners on base, inherited from Ross Detwiler, and he struck out Dan Uggla looking to end the frame. In the fourth inning, Perry allowed two singles, but he got an inning-ending double play, with a hand from Anthony Rendon,

A smooth start for Detwiler, Harper starts spring on fire (Detwiler’s done)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Largely because he reports to spring training so early, Ross Detwiler usually finds himself one of the Nationals’ most game-ready pitchers each year in the early stages of camp. Detwiler has been in Florida for nearly a month now, throwing and building up arm strength. That work has showed so far today, as the left-hander has allowed just one hit

Mattheus knows his role might change a bit (we’re under way)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The rain is still falling, and we’re in a delay that might not be lifted anytime soon. Radar over the Orlando area shows plenty of rain is still coming, so Ross Detwiler might have trouble getting his two or three innings in this afternoon. Ryan Mattheus takes a look around the Nationals’ clubhouse these days and sees a lack of

Nats hoping to play through the drops, plus lineups

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The tarp is on the field here at Champion Stadium at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, and the skies have opened up. They’re calling for some pretty heavy showers here this afternoon and I’ve even heard rumblings of a tornado watch, but the Nationals are really hoping to get today’s contest in, largely because they want to get Ross Detwiler

Ramos closing in on a return to action

VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche are both scheduled to make their spring debuts tomorrow. Manager Davey Johnson has slotted Werth in right field (hitting third) and LaRoche at first base (hitting fourth) for tomorrow’s home game against the Marlins, giving two of his most-tenured veterans their first action this spring. Dan Haren will start tomorrow for the Nationals. Chad Tracy, who didn’t

Karns makes quite an impression in first big league spring contest

VIERA, Fla. - If not for a dazzling defensive play from Mets outfield prospect Matt den Dekker, who scaled the center field wall at Tradition Field last night to bring in Anthony Rendon’s deep fly, Rendon would have had himself two straight games with a two-run homer. The catch by den Dekker ended up as No. 3 on the top 10 plays on “SportsCenter” last

Johnson analyzes Gonzalez’s outing, Nats’ 6-4 win

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - There wasn’t much not to like about Gio Gonzalez’s spring debut tonight at Tradition Field. He pitched two clean innings, worked on fastball command, showed off a sharp, bending curve and left his manager, Davey Johnson, impressed. “Gio was great,” Johnson said. “He had a little rough first inning with an error behind him. He threw 25-something pitches in the

Gonzalez happy to hear “fans still support you and they still love you” (Nats win)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez was sporting a small scar on his forehead after his spring debut. Had he gotten hit on the head with a ball unbeknownst to reporters? Had he taken a tumble while taking part in fielding drills during a recent workout? Nope. Gonzalez said the scar was rug burn, the result of a bit of a wrestling match with

Gonzalez shaky in first spring inning (but finishes strong)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Most pitchers throw fastballs almost exclusively in their first outing of spring in an attempt to build up arm strength and work on their location. Gio Gonzalez went a different route. Gonzalez leaned heavily on his curveball in his first inning of work, throwing at least six hammers, by my count, in a 23-pitch frame. The left-hander didn’t have good

Tracy, Owings battling bumps and bruises (plus two guys impressing Davey)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Two Nationals that were scheduled to make today’s trip to Port St. Lucie ended up staying in Viera. Chad Tracy is dealing with a bruise on his right triceps area after getting hit by a pitch yesterday against the Marlins, and manager Davey Johnson said the Nationals’ plan is to keep him out of the lineup both today and tomorrow.

Nats-Mets lineups for Gonzalez’s spring debut

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Of the players the Nationals brought with them on today’s road trip to Port St. Lucie, likely just three will find themselves on the opening day roster. Gio Gonzalez will get the ball against the Mets tonight, in a game being broadcast in the D.C. and Baltimore regions on MLB Network, but behind him will be a host of prospects

From D.C. to Japan and back

VIERA, Fla. - A few years ago, Brandon Mann was living in the Washington D.C., area, watching Stephen Strasburg dominate in his first season in the majors while Mann tried to scrap together a career on the diamond himself. A former 27th-round pick of the Rays, Mann’s baseball journey took him from Double-A ball in 2009 to Independent League ball in 2010 to Japan in

Rendon shares laughs with his skipper, shines on both sides of the ball

VIERA, Fla. - Just two days after taking on the Mets down in Port St. Lucie, the Nationals will head back down Interstate 95 today for yet another game at Tradition Field. Today’s contest has a 6:10 p.m. first pitch and will be aired on MLB Network for those of you in the D.C. and Baltimore markets. The Nats players who won’t suit up tonight

Storen far from worried after blown save, plus Espinosa quotes

VIERA, Fla. - When Drew Storen took the mound for his first appearance of the spring last year, he says he attacked the outing much like he would if it was the regular season, throwing with nearly full force right out of the gate. The next day, Storen said he could tell something was wrong with his right elbow. The Nationals reliever ended up needing

Johnson discusses Zimmermann, Storen and more after 2-2 tie

VIERA, Fla. - Two spring training games are in the books for the Nationals: a loss to the Mets yesterday and a 2-2 tie with the Marlins today. “We’re making progress,” manager Davey Johnson joked after today’s game. “Broke that losing streak.” Jordan Zimmermann got things off on the right foot, allowing just one run on two hits over three innings of work. The right-hander

Storen coughs up lead in ninth in spring debut (Nats, Fish end in tie)

VIERA, Fla. - Results mean absolutely nothing on Feb. 24. Let’s all make sure we understand that before I type this next sentence. Drew Storen allowed a run in the top of the ninth inning in his first appearance this spring, turning a 2-1 lead into a 2-2 tie. Storen, seeing his first game action since his blown save in Game 5 of the National

Rendon goes yard, Zimmermann feels his changeup is improving

VIERA, Fla. - We’re back under way after a rain delay of 1 hour, 6 minutes, and the Nationals’ lineup looks a heck of a lot different than it did before the tarp was pulled onto the field. Denard Span, Bryce Harper, Chad Tracy, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki have all been pulled, with a host of minor leaguers replacing them in the

Zimmermann doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat (we’ve got some rain)

VIERA, Fla. - It might only be Feb. 24, but Jordan Zimmermann looks like he’s in midseason form. Zimmermann has quickly fired two scoreless innings this afternoon, allowing just a two-out single in the first. The Nationals right-hander has kept the ball down, inducing five groundball outs and getting Matt Downs swinging on an off-speed pitch in the second inning. Through these two frames, Zimmermann

Johnson reminisces, Purke progressing, Mayor Gray visits Viera

VIERA, Fla. - A few Nationals players not in the lineup today are making their way over to Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500, which led manager Davey Johnson to reminisce about his own experience at the race. Johnson says he was invited to ride in the pace car before the Daytona 500 some 40 years ago, and while he didn’t recall who won

Christian Garcia could miss two weeks, plus notes on Henry Rodriguez, Chris Young

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals are confident that Christian Garcia’s wrist/forearm strain isn’t anything serious, but they’re not taking any chances with the promising right-hander. As a result, Garcia will be held out for the next 10-14 days, according to manager Davey Johnson. Garcia said today that he’s been feeling better in recent days after first experiencing some tightness in his throwing wrist/forearm area when

Nats, Marlins lineups for home opener at Space Coast Stadium

VIERA, Fla. - The new-look Marlins (is that a nice way to say it, or what?) come to town this afternoon to take on the Nationals in their home opener at Space Coast Stadium. Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki will make their spring debuts this afternoon under cloudy skies, as the Nationals face young right-hander Henderson Alvarez, one of the arms the Marlins got from

This spring, Strasburg looking more at the big picture

VIERA, Fla. - There was a time not too long ago when Stephen Strasburg would have thrown a mini fit had he allowed a two-run homer to the light-hitting Ruben Tejada and needed 31 pitches to get out of his first inning of spring. That time might’ve even been last February. “I think last year at this time, if he would’ve done what he did

Johnson discusses Nats’ 5-3 loss in spring opener

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - If Stephen Strasburg wasn’t going to harp on the negatives from his spring opener, manager Davey Johnson sure wasn’t. The Nationals skipper knew that Strasburg would be throwing mostly fastballs, and he knew that Mets hitters would be looking to tee off. This early in spring, Johnson was mainly happy that Strasburg made it through his two innings and was

Strasburg focuses on positives after a “debacle” of a first inning

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - If you’ve watched Stephen Strasburg pitch enough, you’re aware of the fact that he can be one of his toughest opponents. The Nationals right-hander is so competitive and gets so amped up for big starts that he can end up fighting himself on the mound, resulting in stretches where he overthrows and loses his effectiveness. You can understand, then, why

Game updates plus Harper, Desmond quotes (Mets top Nats 5-3)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Not much has changed from last year. Davey Johnson’s still getting plenty of use out of Craig Stammen’s right arm. Stammen worked two innings this afternoon, throwing 39 pitches, and apparently will get a workload similar to that of the Nationals’ starters early in spring. Stammen allowed three hits and one run, knotting the game at 3-3 for a brief

Strasburg allows two-run bomb in first inning of spring (much sharper in second)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - I told you the wind could be a factor today. Stephen Strasburg’s first inning of spring saw him surrender a two-run homer to a guy - Ruben Tejada - who had just one home run in 114 games last season. Tejada took a 93 mph Strasburg fastball over the left-center field fence, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead over the

Johnson responds to report claiming Storen battled injury in NLDS

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Asked today about a CBSSports.com report that claimed Drew Storen was battling “unbearable” back spasms during Game 5 of the National League Division Series, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that it was inexperience, not injury, that led to Storen blowing a save in that game. “Only thing I recall is he didn’t throw too many strikes,” Johnson said. “And I

Johnson talks Strasburg limits, plus Nats, Mets lineups

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Greetings from Tradition Field, where the sun is out and the breeze is, as well. A nice wind is blowing out to center this afternoon, and the Nationals were taking full advantage during batting practice. One BP group, made up of Bryce Harper, Tyler Moore, Chris Marrero and Micah Owings, sent dozens of souvenirs out to the fans beyond the

Let the games begin

VIERA, Fla. - The last couple weeks have been fun and all, with players reporting to camp, discussing their goals for the 2013 season and kicking off the start of spring training. But you can bet the guys in the Nationals clubhouse are glad the start of the Grapefruit League season is finally here, and frankly, so are the beat writers. There are only so

Garcia getting second opinion on forearm, Zimmerman has strong BP session

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals believe that the lingering tightness in the area between Christian Garcia’s right wrist and forearm is due to a strain, but they are awaiting a second opinion on the right-hander’s MRI results, which they hope will clear up what manager Davey Johnson has called “a strange injury.” Garcia has been feeling tightness in his right arm for the last few

Chris Young on his health, how he views his future with Nats

VIERA, Fla. - Right about now, Chris Young should be toeing a mound somewhere at the Nationals’ spring facility, throwing a bullpen session in front of his new pitching coach, Steve McCatty, and other Nats staffers. Young got to the Nationals’ complex this morning after signing a minor league deal with the team last night, and spent the early part of today going through various

Gio Gonzalez says blood, urine tests for PEDs came back negative

VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez has received word from the Major League Baseball Players Association that he has tested negative for performance-enhancing drugs. Two days after the Miami New Times listed Gonzalez among a group of players linked to Biogenesis, a Miami-area anti-aging clinic that was allegedly supplying performance-enhancing substances to players, Gonzalez had both his blood and urine tested by MLB. The Nationals left-hander,

Rizzo discusses Young signing (with Saturday’s travel roster)

VIERA, Fla. - It’s not hard to spot Chris Young, so when I walked past the trainer’s room a bit earlier and saw a 6-foot-10 figure to my right, I knew the newest Nationals pitcher had arrived in camp. Young, who the Nats signed to a minor league deal yesterday, will throw a bullpen session for the Nationals today and then the team will decide

News and notes on the final workout day before spring games

VIERA, Fla. - Ready for a few fun facts about the Nationals’ newest pitcher, Chris Young, who was signed to a minor league deal yesterday? Young spent the 2003 season in the Expos’ minor league system after being acquired from the Pirates in as part of a deal for Matt Herges, and pitched for high Single-A Brevard County and Double-A Harrisburg. He was traded to

Nats sign right-hander Chris Young to minor league deal

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals have added some starting pitching depth to their organization, agreeing to terms with veteran right-hander Chris Young on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. Young, 33, has spent the last two seasons with the Mets, but has also seen time with the Rangers and Padres. The 6-foot-10 righty made the All-Star team with San

Now healthy, Rendon confident he can show his stuff

VIERA, Fla. - Anthony Rendon knows that he’s been labeled injury-prone by some around the league. He knows that scouts and fans have seen him suffer three ankle injuries in a four-year span, with a shoulder injury thrown in there, as well. The former first-round pick understands that some might doubt whether he can put together a full, healthy season and deliver on the promise

Pitching schedules for today’s live BP and first two spring games

VIERA, Fla. - Tyler Moore faced Stephen Strasburg, a 15-game winner last year, during live batting practice yesterday morning. Moore will square off against Dan Haren, a 10-year veteran and three-time All-Star during live BP today. “Bring ‘em on,” Moore said this morning with a chuckle. “Rack ‘em up.” It’ll be Haren, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeremy Accardo, Ryan Perry and Brendan Mann throwing to hitters on

One area of focus that could put Detwiler “over the top”

VIERA, Fla. - Dating back to the second half of last season, one of Davey Johnson’s ongoing goals has been to convince Ross Detwiler to utilize more off-speed pitches while on the mound. Detwiler has success largely because of his sinker, a biting two-seam fastball that hitters can’t lay off, but often can do little with. It’s Detwiler’s bread and butter, and when the 26-year-old

Hearing from the catchers (plus Gonzalez statement)

VIERA, Fla. - Kurt Suzuki looks at live batting practice sessions from multiple perspectives. As he stands in the batter’s box, he obviously sees the pitches coming in at him with a hitter’s mindset. But the Nationals catcher also views things from the perspective of a guy who will be behind the plate on the receiving end of these pitches. Suzuki was in the box

Strasburg discusses his first live batting practice session

VIERA, Fla. - There’s only so much you can take out of a throwing session in which the players standing in the batter’s box know exactly what’s coming. During live batting practice, the hitters are made aware of what pitch will be heading their way, leading to confident swings when the player actually chooses to take the bat off his shoulder. But even though it

Quick-hit notes from Wednesday’s workout

VIERA, Fla. - Tyler Moore, Roger Bernadina, Chris Snyder and Chad Tracy all took their hacks against Stephen Strasburg this morning in the right-hander’s first live batting practice session of spring. As Bernadina warmed up just before stepping into the cage, he turned around and started chatting with a couple of reporters. I asked whether Bernadina would be going yard off Strasburg, and Bernadina quickly

Schedule set for live batting practice sessions

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg will throw live batting practice this morning. Bryce Harper will hit off live batting practice this morning. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the two former No. 1 overall picks will be facing off against each other out on the minor league fields today during the Nationals’ workout. Strasburg is scheduled to be the first pitcher to throw live BP out

Impact of the newest report on Gonzalez, Biogenesis

VIERA, Fla. - Some might wonder whether yesterday’s ESPN report claiming Gio Gonzalez did not receive performance-enhancers from Biogenesis, a Miami-area anti-aging clinic, will have any effect on Gonzalez as the Nationals lefty prepares for the season. Will it lift a weight off Gonzalez’s shoulders? Will the report get rid of a distraction that has lingered around the Nationals’ clubhouse for the last week and

Report: Gonzalez did not receive PEDs from Biogenesis

VIERA, Fla. - Ever since being linked to Biogenesis, a Miami-area anti-aging clinic that allegedly was supplying performance-enhancing drugs to major league players, and its founder, Tony Bosch, Gio Gonzalez has denied any wrongdoing or PED usage. “At the end of the day,” Gonzalez said a week ago, “I’ve never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I never will.” A report from ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” backs

Gonzalez keeps things light, Span sprays line drives

VIERA, Fla. - With both the “A” and “B” pitching groups having the day off to rest up from bullpen sessions, the Nationals took part in a laid-back workout on the minor league fields this morning. Pitchers all participated in various pickoff drills, infielders got in some work doing rundowns, and the final part of the workout before batting practice got under way was reserved

Detwiler to pitch for Team USA in World Baseball Classic (updated with quotes)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals now have two pitchers on the Team USA roster for the World Baseball Classic. Ross Detwiler has accepted an invitation to pitch for Team USA, the Nats announced this morning. Detwiler joins fellow Nats left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the Team USA roster. Gonzalez isn’t scheduled to participate in the WBC until the second round, instead staying with the Nats until

Bray eager to bounce back from “worst year I’ve ever had in baseball”

VIERA, Fla. - Not only does Bill Bray come to Nationals camp this year fighting to win a job, he comes in fighting to put the bad habits he picked up during an injury-plagued 2012 season behind him. And it’s a process that isn’t as easy as it might sound. Bray excelled with the Reds in 2011, putting up a 2.98 ERA in a whopping

More on the Christian Garcia dilemma

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Davey Johnson gets why Christian Garcia might prefer to remain a reliever. Johnson knows that after spending eight-plus years in the minor leagues, Garcia finally was able to make it to the bigs because he became a dominant late-inning guy out of the bullpen. The Nats skipper understands that if everything else was equal and Garcia had his pick of

Rizzo on Garcia’s role, Skole’s progress, Rodriguez’s health

VIERA, Fla. - Is Christian Garcia a starter? Is the promising 27-year-old a reliever? No one knows at this point, not even Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo or manager Davey Johnson. The Nationals’ decision makers are coming into this spring with an open mind on Garcia, letting how the righty pitches and how their pitching staff is constructed steer their decision on how Garcia will

Soriano impresses in first bullpen session as a National

VIERA, Fla. - This was Rafael Soriano’s first bullpen session since arriving at Nationals camp on Saturday, so he wasn’t about to overdo it. Soriano took part in some long toss as the Nationals’ pitchers warmed up at the start of their workout, then chatted with manager Davey Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty, the three men discussing how heavy a workload to give Soriano

Strasburg to start Nats’ spring opener (plus Ramos note)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals’ Grapefruit League opener is now just five days away, and while pitchers haven’t started throwing live batting practice yet, manager Davey Johnson already knows who his starter for the spring opener will be. Stephen Strasburg will get the ball Saturday, as the Nationals head to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets in their first Grapefruit League game of

Various Monday morning odds and ends

VIERA, Fla. - He might have a new team’s colors on these days, but Michael Morse can still crush a baseball. That apparently hasn’t changed. Now a member of the Mariners after being traded out west this offseason, Morse reportedly struck a ball so well during batting practice yesterday that it not only flew over the outfield fence, but also had enough distance to carry

Notes from the first full-squad workout of spring

VIERA, Fla. - Players, coaches and reporters braved the elements this morning for the first full-squad workout of Nationals camp, spending about 1 hour, 45 minutes on the minor league fields. OK, so I know low-40s and windy is nothing compared to what those of you up north are dealing with these days. But humor me as I continue a baseball writer’s spring training tradition

Johnson on Cole Kimball: “I think he’s back”

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals fans got a glimpse of Cole Kimball’s immense ability in the early part of the 2011 season. Unfortunately, it was just a brief glimpse. Kimball posted a 1.93 ERA over 12 appearances in 2011, holding hitters to a .174 batting average and not looking at all like an intimidated 25-year-old rookie. A torn rotator cuff derailed Kimball’s career, however, costing him

Gonzalez to join Team USA for second round of World Baseball Classic

VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez is excited to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, but the Nationals lefty will need to wait until the second round of the tournament before taking the mound for his country. Nats manager Davey Johnson was informed by Team USA pitching coach Greg Maddux that Gonzalez will pitch in the WBC March 12, should Team USA not

One of the more intriguing players in Nats camp

VIERA, Fla. - With Rafael Soriano’s visa issue in the past and all their position players having reported, the Nationals now have all 53 of their guys in camp. The physicals have all been taken, the eye and dental exams complete. It’s time for the first official full-squad workout of spring. It’s a chilly 40-degree morning here on the east coast of Florida, and before

Nats making early attempt to cut down on stolen bases allowed

VIERA, Fla. - It was a very quiet morning out on the minor league fields today. Little of note actually went down, as pitchers and catchers took part in a basic rotation of drills that included bunting, pickoff throws to first base, comebackers, pickoff throws to second base and fielding dribblers up the line. The Nationals give their pitchers two days off after bullpen sessions

Twenty good minutes with Jayson Werth

VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth arrived at Space Coast Stadium today, took a look around the Nationals clubhouse and liked what he saw. Werth talked with reporters for more than 20 minutes this afternoon, covering a wide range of topics. But one of the first things Werth discussed was how talented the Nationals are. Such comments drew a question about whether Werth had even been

Soriano arrives, Zimmermann talks contract

VIERA, Fla. - Rafael Soriano had hoped to arrive to Nationals camp a little early in order to get acclimated to a new team, coaching staff and teammates. A visa issue delayed his arrival by a few days, but after getting his visa stamped yesterday, Soriano arrived at Space Coast Stadium this morning, ready to get things started. He gave a hug to Gio Gonzalez,

The decision that set Ryan Perry’s career on a new track

VIERA, Fla. - It was almost midway through the season last year when Ryan Perry placed a phone call. Perry, a 6-foot-4, 215-lb. right-hander with a power fastball and an intimidating mound presence, was confident that he had the ability to pitch at the major league level. He got a cup of coffee with the Nationals in May, appearing in seven games out of the

Nats, Zimmermann agree to terms, avoiding arbitration (updated)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann have agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2013 season, avoiding arbitration, the team announced. Zimmermann, 26, was eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason. His agent had asked for $5.8 million for the 2013 season, while the Nationals had countered with $4.6 million. Terms of the deal are not yet known.

Talking haircuts, contracts and expectations with Adam LaRoche

VIERA, Fla. - When Adam LaRoche walked into the Nationals clubhouse this morning, his 11-year-old son Drake was right behind him, as is often the case, and was wheeling a bag filled with baseball gear. Nationals players and clubhouse staffers flocked from all around to welcome the LaRoches - both of them - with hugs and handshakes. This is a beloved duo around these parts.

Johnson impressed with Haren, likes Rodriguez’s progress

VIERA, Fla. - Dan Haren’s first mound session as a member of the Nationals was a strong one. Haren, signed to a one-year, $13 million deal this offseason, stood between fellow right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Tyler Clippard this morning, and the 32-year-old toed the rubber and fired pitches into the glove of catcher Jhonatan Solano. It was the first time Haren has thrown in front

Ryan Zimmerman returning to his natural throwing motion

VIERA, Fla. - The days of the robotic throwing motion are over. No longer will Ryan Zimmerman need a seemingly 12-step process to get the ball from his glove to the first baseman. And boy, are Zimmerman and those around him happy about it. Zimmerman had arthroscopic surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder early this offseason, a procedure that should allow him

Soriano has his visa, plus workout notes

VIERA, Fla. - Rafael Soriano has obtained his visa and is expected to be at Nationals camp in the next day or two, according to a team source. The deadline for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training was Tuesday, but Soriano was unable to arrive on time due to an issue with his visa. A native of the Dominican Republic, Soriano should be

Haren eager to show injuries, drop in velocity won’t hold him back

VIERA, Fla. - Assuming Mother Nature doesn’t play a factor, we should have plenty going on around Nationals camp today. Pitchers and catchers will take to the fields again this morning, with the hurlers who did not take part in bullpen sessions yesterday doing so today. We’ll also see a host of guys trickle in throughout the morning and afternoon, as today is the report

Johnson talks lineup possibilities

VIERA, Fla. - During his session with reporters earlier today, Bryce Harper was asked whether he felt moving to a spot in the middle of the batting order would be a normal progression for him. “I hope not. I like the two-spot,” Harper replied, before adding that he’d gladly hit anywhere in the Nationals order as long as he remains in the lineup. Davey Johnson

Wilson Ramos: “I feel like I’m on the team again. I’m back”

VIERA, Fla. - As Wilson Ramos dropped into his crouch and prepared to receive the first pitch thrown by Zach Duke late this morning, Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty hollered at the 25-year-old catcher from behind the pitcher’s mound. “The Tin Man’s back!” McCatty shouted, referencing the all-grey gear that Ramos sports behind the plate. It had been a while since Ramos had tossed on

A bulked-up Harper arrives with lofty personal, team goals

VIERA, Fla. - When Bryce Harper first walked into the Nationals clubhouse this morning, one thing was evident immediately. He’s packed on a few pounds. I don’t say that in a negative way. It’s not like Harper was pounding Krispy Kremes all offseason and now has a gut. Far from it, in fact. He’s a mountain of muscle now, with broad shoulders and a toned

Johnson discusses Soriano’s absence, reactions from first workout

VIERA, Fla. - As I mentioned earlier, the Nationals have confirmed that closer Rafael Soriano’s arrival at camp has been delayed by a visa issue. According to a source, because Soriano has a new employer, his previous visa, which was for five years, needs to be adjusted. While the Nats would obviously prefer to have Soriano in camp, it’s still very early. Camp is extended

No sign of Rafael Soriano at Nationals camp (updated twice)

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals pitchers and catchers are getting ready to take the fields for their first official workout of spring. All of them, that is, except for Rafael Soriano, who has not yet been seen at Nats camp. The deadline for pitchers and catchers to report was midnight Tuesday. Soriano’s locker has clearly not been touched since it was assembled by the Nationals’ clubhouse

Storen learning, growing through his toughest moments

VIERA, Fla. - “The Chief” is making a comeback. Chad Cordero, who spent six seasons with the Expos/Nationals organization and saved 128 games in that time, announced last night on Twitter that he has signed a minor league deal with the Angels. Now 30, Cordero won’t be receiving an invitation to big league spring training, according to reports, so his journey back to the majors

Early reports positive on Espinosa’s shoulder

VIERA, Fla. - A fairly quiet day at Space Coast Stadium is winding to a close, as players and coaches who spent much of the morning getting physicals have pretty much all rolled out for the day. In addition to the final group of pitchers reporting to the Nationals’ facilities, we also saw a few more position players arrive today. Center fielder Denard Span, infielder

Rizzo: Gonzalez’s situation doesn’t intensify search for a starter

VIERA, Fla. - We spoke to Gio Gonzalez yesterday about his involvement with Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to major league players. Today, we talked to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo about Gonzalez and his future. Because of Major League Baseball’s ongoing investigation into Biogenesis and Tony Bosch, who ran the clinic, Rizzo couldn’t say too much on Gonzalez and the

Notes and quotes from Davey Johnson’s first media session this spring

VIERA, Fla. - Davey Johnson strolled into the home dugout at Space Coast Stadium a bit ago, wearing a blue track suit and sneakers, a smile on his face as the last season of his managerial career has gotten under way. After participating in meetings with coaches and front office members over parts of the last couple of days and taking his physical this morning,

For Desmond, new training regimen, same baseball mentality

VIERA, Fla. - While the last few days have consisted of just some light workouts for the players who chose to arrive early to Nationals camp, today marks the first mandatory day in camp for pitchers and catchers. All pitchers and catchers on the roster were expected to report that they were in the area by midnight last night, so as of this morning, we

Nats will get lots of love on FOX in 2013 (plus spring training statement)

VIERA, Fla. - As part of a recent partnership between MASN and WUSA 9, the Nationals will have 20 regular season games simulcast on Channel 9 in 2013. Nats fans will also be able to catch their squad on FOX a number of times this season. According to this FOX release, the Nats are scheduled to appear on their Saturday regional broadcasts a whopping nine

A few notes on Strasburg, Rodriguez, Solis

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals’ clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium is starting to become a bit more crowded, as a handful of pitchers have been filing in throughout the morning, checking in with team trainers and coaches, and getting their throwing programs started. Christian Garcia, Matt Purke, Ryan Perry and Ryan Mattheus were among the guys to get in a bullpen session this morning, and

Gonzalez discusses his decision to play in World Baseball Classic

VIERA, Fla. - After fielding five minutes of questions about his link to Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic that has allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to players, Gio Gonzalez shifted to answering questions about his decision to suit up for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Gonzalez recently got a voice mail from Team USA’s manager, Joe Torre, inviting Gonzalez to join in on the WBC

Gonzalez “very confident” he’ll be cleared despite link to PED clinic

VIERA, Fla. - After arriving here yesterday and taking part in a workout at Nationals camp this morning, Gio Gonzalez met with reporters and repeated the same message he delivered in a statement a couple weeks ago: He has never taken performance-enhancing drugs. Gonzalez talked with reporters for 15 minutes just a bit ago in the home dugout at Space Coast Stadium, and said that

Two different approaches to the World Baseball Classic

VIERA, Fla. - Danny Espinosa was planning on participating in the World Baseball Classic. He had intended to suit up for Team Mexico and was looking forward to wearing a jersey with the Mexican flag, honoring his parents’ heritage in the process. That won’t be happening. Espinosa told reporters yesterday that he has decided to skip the WBC and will instead stay with the Nationals

Ramos nearly fully healthy, gunning for starting job

VIERA, Fla. - Nine months after suffering a gruesome injury to his right knee that required two major surgeries, Wilson Ramos is back at Nationals camp feeling almost completely healthy. Ramos tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee in a May 12 game against the Reds last season, ending his season and leading to months and months of grueling rehab. You wouldn’t know

Nats giving Gonzalez his space (plus clubhouse notes)

VIERA, Fla. - I’ve got a couple more locker-positioning notes for you. Bryce Harper, who last spring was given a wide locker normally reserved for veterans only to see Jayson Werth take over half of it with his own stuff, has a big locker again this year. I’m guessing Werth won’t be pushing his weight around this spring when it comes to Harper’s locker, however.

Zimmermann talks contract negotiations, Purke talks about his health

VIERA, Fla. - Greetings from the so-called “Panera Bureau” here in Viera, a popular spot for beat writers looking to grab a bite while working. If you’re in town in the next couple weeks and swing by the local Panera around lunch time, you’re bound to see a couple of us pounding away on our laptops. If I make fewer than 15 appearances in here

Strasburg “100 percent over” last season, eager to enter 2013 without limits

VIERA, Fla. - The vast majority of pitchers are already in camp at this point, and with the exception of non-roster invitee Chris Snyder, every catcher is already here ahead of tomorrow’s report date for pitchers and catchers. Gio Gonzalez is set to arrive tomorrow, and will speak with reporters about his link to the anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, which is being investigated into its reported

Nats sign Will Ohman to minor league deal, plus early notes

VIERA, Fla. - A whole host of Nationals players and staffers are at Space Coast Stadium today, getting in some throwing, taking some light batting practice and getting settled in for spring training. Among the players here already are Jordan Zimmermann, Craig Stammen, Ross Detwiler, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Stephen Strasburg, Nathan Karns, Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Jhonatan Solano, Sandy Leon, Roger Bernadina

MASN partnering with WUSA 9 to simulcast 20 games in 2013

VIERA, Fla. - Coming off a 98-win season and the first National League East title in team history, anticipation and excitement for Nationals baseball has never been higher. And now, all Nats fans living in the Washington, D.C., area, even those without MASN, will be able to catch the action. MASN and WUSA 9 are partnering to simulcast 20 MASN-produced Nationals games on WUSA 9

Setting up shop

MELBOURNE, Fla. - After a little bit of a bumpy flight and a 55 minute wait in line to get my rental car, I’m all set up in my hotel room and ready for spring training to get going. I’ve traded in my winter coat for a pair of sunglasses, and my freezing cold hands for a sweaty back. Too much information? Yeah, I figured

Off to Viera we go

Some people consider the day after the Super Bowl to be the beginning of baseball season. Personally, I consider the beginning of baseball season the day that I first hear the click-clack of cleats against the dugout floor and the loud pop of a ball settling into a mitt. That day is today. I’m taking off for Viera, Fla., and Nationals spring training in just

Gio Gonzalez to pitch for Team USA in World Baseball Classic

Gio Gonzalez isn’t shying away from the spotlight after being linked to a Miami-area anti-aging clinic accused of dealing performance-enhancing drugs. USA Baseball has announced that Gonzalez, a Hialeah, Fla., native, has accepted an invitation to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. The Nationals now have three players on their 40-man roster who are on the provisional roster for teams competing in

The Nationals’ camp roster

My remaining hours in the mid-Atlantic region are dwindling. I leave for Viera, Fla., and Nationals spring training tomorrow morning, meaning today is my final day to run errands, pay bills and pack seven weeks’ worth of clothes into two suitcases. OK, so there’s a laundry room in my hotel, and I don’t actually need seven weeks’ worth of clothes. But I really hate doing

Nats announce promotions notes and ticket info

I’ve got another jersey number switcheroo to report. Wilson Ramos will make the switch from No. 3 to No. 40, which was his number in winter ball, according to his publicist. Ramos had only three home runs last season while wearing No. 3, as his torn right ACL and meniscus cut short his season. I bet he wouldn’t mind too much if he hit 40

A few arms to keep an eye on

We all know the major storylines involving the Nationals’ pitchers this spring. How will Gio Gonzalez react to all the off-the-field issues regarding his linkage to Biogenesis, the anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to major league players? Can Dan Haren stay healthy and showcase the form he displayed over his last seven starts last season, when he pitched to a 2.76 ERA? How

A Lucas Giolito update

After months of rehabilitation following Tommy John surgery late last summer, Lucas Giolito has started to pick up a baseball again. Giolito, the Nationals’ first-round pick in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, pitched just two professional innings last season (for the Gulf Coast League Nationals) before needing to undergo surgery to repair a small tear in his UCL. That surgery came in late August,

Nats sign pitcher-turned-first baseman Micah Owings to minor league deal

The minor league deals are coming fast and furious now. And this one’s pretty interesting. The Nationals have agreed to terms with first baseman Micah Owings on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. Yes, you read that correctly. Owings, a former starter turned reliever who went 8-0 with a 3.57 ERA in 2011 and picked up a win in

Some more on Ramos’ health, Gonzalez’s future

Just a couple of hours after the Nationals announced that they had signed veteran catcher Chris Snyder to a minor league contract yesterday, a deal that provides even more depth should Wilson Ramos’ surgically repaired right knee not allow him to be ready opening day, Ramos sent out a couple tweets. One of the tweets, written in Spanish, roughly translates to the following: “Almost green-lighted

Nats add to catching depth, sign Snyder to minor league deal (Nats sign Accardo)

Of all the positions on the diamond, the Nationals might have the most organizational depth at catcher. Kurt Suzuki and Wilson Ramos appear poised to make up one of the most talented catching duos at the major league level, and waiting in the wings on the farm, the Nats have Jhonatan Solano, Sandy Leon and Carlos Maldonado, ready to step in if needed. But with

A year later, a look at the Gio Gonzalez trade

Just a little over a year after being shipped out to Oakland as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade, Brad Peacock finds himself switching organizations yet again. Peacock, the former Nationals right-hander who was a key piece in the Gonzalez deal last January, was traded to the Astros last night in a five-player deal that will send infielder Jed Lowrie to the Athletics. The trade

Who has to step up?

I sarcastically made enough comments about the Ravens and Nationals making the postseason every year that I covered them that I might as well take responsibility for what happened last night, as well. The year that I stop covering the Ravens, they win a Super Bowl. Call it the Reverse Kolko Factor. Now that the NFL season is over, there’s nothing but time standing between

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