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Aaron Barrett on getting the win in his major league debut: “That was unbelievable”

NEW YORK - Imagine you’re making your major league debut. Your knees would be shaking and your heart would be in your throat if that debut was in July in front of 15,000 fans with your team 10 games out of first place, right? Now imagine that you’re making your major league debut on opening day. In front of a sold out crowd of more

Here’s your Nats opening day lineup

NEW YORK - Hello from Citi Field, everyone. There was snow falling from the sky when I left my hotel early this morning - how’s that for opening day weather? - and the tarp is on the field, but the forecast looks OK for later on today. Manager Matt Williams has posted his first regular season lineup as a big league manager, and it’s got

Despite disappointing 2013, Nats a confident bunch entering a new season

NEW YORK - The big day is finally here. Months of waiting, speculating about roster moves, sifting through minor league signings and watching players practice bunt plays - that’s all behind us. Now we have actual, meaningful baseball. Hallelujah. This kind of feels like the first day of school, except not, because this is a little more fun. The Nationals open their 2014 season this

Nats ink Laffey to minor league deal, acquire Poveda from White Sox

NEW YORK - The Nationals may have set their 25-man roster for opening day, but the club continues to tinker with its organizational depth chart. The Nats announced Sunday that veteran left-hander Aaron Laffey has been signed to a minor league deal. The 28-year-old native of Cumberland, Md., has a 25-29 record and 4.45 ERA in 153 career games (68 starts) with the Indians, Mariners,

LaRoche on his swing, his weight and his confidence entering 2014

NEW YORK - Adam LaRoche’s 2013 struggles have been well-documented. Struggles when it comes to his offensive performance. Struggles when it comes to keeping weight on his frame. The good news for both LaRoche and the Nationals is that on the eve of the 2014 season, the 34-year-old first baseman feels good. He feels good at the plate after a strong spring training. He feels

Tying up some loose ends

NEW YORK - Hello from the Big Apple, where it’s cool, dreary and dark. Only one day remains until opening day, however, so that brightens things a bit. Not a single pitch was thrown off the Nationals Park mound yesterday, and we didn’t see any batters dig into the batter’s box. The tarps covering the field and the rain that persisted throughout the day prevented

Putting the final touches on spring training (game canceled)

The Nationals might have left Florida, but they apparently can’t shake the early-spring drizzle that we got a handful of times down south during spring training. Today’s 2 p.m. exhibition game against the Tigers, scheduled to be the Nats’ final tune-up before opening day, is in jeopardy due to the weather conditions. At last check of the forecast for today, they’re calling for anywhere from

Some day-after thoughts on what might lie ahead for Fister

Well would you look at that. No Florida dateline. I guess that’s how you really know the regular season is almost here. I’m back in the DMV after a flight out of Orlando late last night. I might not have missed the weather up here, but I sure did miss my own bed and my friends and family, so it’s good to be back, even

Williams “leaning towards” Rendon as opening day second baseman, plus more notes

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Nationals are currently on their way to the airport, ready to ship on back to D.C. ahead of Saturday’s exhibition game against the Tigers. They wait for word on Doug Fister, who will see the team doctor tomorrow after being diagnosed with a right lat strain, which caused him to leave his minor league start today after just one

Fister leaves minor league start after one inning with lat strain

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Nationals were hoping that Doug Fister would make it through a minor league start today, possibly pitch in one more minor league game five days from now, and then be good to slide into their regular season rotation. That plan will have to be adjusted, and Fister’s status for the start of the regular season is now in question.

Zimmermann finishes a stellar spring, Ramos done after three innings (Nats win 4-0)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 4, Mets 0 Summary: Jordan Zimmermann went five scoreless innings, and Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Jerry Blevins combined to go four scoreless with three hits allowed and seven strikeouts. Danny Espinosa went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk, Denard Span had three hits and has a .370 average this spring, and Bryce Harper had two hits,

Frandsen on his chaotic week, Williams on Zimmerman’s health and plans for Fister

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The last five days have been a bit of a roller coaster for Kevin Frandsen. The 31-year-old infielder, who had spent the last three years with the Phillies organization, was stunned to find out on Sunday that the Phillies were outrighting him to Triple-A. Frandsen had 72 hours to decide whether to accept the assignment to the minors or opt

Michael Gonzalez rejoins Nats on minor league deal (with Nats lineup)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Nationals announced this morning that left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez has rejoined the team on a minor league deal. I’d imagine Gonzalez will report to Triple-A Syracuse, although the team has not announced Gonzalez’s assignment. Gonzalez, 35, was released by the Nats on Tuesday. He originally signed a minor league deal with the team early this month, and allowed four

Aaron Barrett on the joy that comes with your first big league call-up

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Well, after six weeks, we’re finally about done down here in Florida. Today marks the last day on the Nationals’ Grapefruit League schedule, and once this afternoon’s game against the Mets is complete, only Saturday’s exhibition at Nationals Park and a couple of off-days stand in between us and opening day. Jordan Zimmermann will get the ball for the Nats

Nats option Kobernus and Leon, roster now at 26

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - A few hours following this afternoon’s loss to the Cardinals, the Nationals’ second-to-last Grapefruit League game of spring, the Nats trimmed their roster down to 26 active players by optioning infielder/outfielder Jeff Kobernus to Triple-A Syracuse and catcher Sandy Leon to Double-A Harrisburg. Both guys had been mentioned yesterday by manager Matt Williams as candidates to make the team’s opening

Williams on Harper’s ejection, Gonzalez on his spring

JUPITER, Fla. - The Cardinals beat the Nationals 3-2 this afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium, but if you turn on MLB Network or SportsCenter tonight, you probably won’t see much of Gio Gonzalez’s five innings of work or Danny Espinosa’s impressive sliding defensive play to the right of the second base bag. You’ll probably see Bryce Harper getting thrown out of the game in the

Harper ejected for arguing call at first base (Nats lose 3-2)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Cardinals 3, Nationals 2 Recap: Gio Gonzalez wrapped up his spring by going five innings, allowing three runs, only one of which was earned. Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen and Aaron Barrett combined for three scoreless in relief and Caleb Ramsey had a two-run single in the loss. Need to know: Gonzalez put the finishing touches on a solid spring and declared

Nats to announce fifth starter after Saturday exhibition game (Frandsen signing official)

JUPITER, Fla. - The final spot in the Nationals bullpen has been determined. It’ll go to right-hander Aaron Barrett. The final spot on the bench has been set. Once his signing is made official, utility man Kevin Frandsen will be the Nats’ fifth bench guy. Soon, all that will be left for the Nats to do before opening day will be to settle on their

Report: Ex-Phillie Frandsen will join Nats (updated)

JUPITER, Fla.- According to this tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Nationals appear to have found a veteran backup corner infielder to fill out their 25-man roster, Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen, who was released by the Phillies yesterday, would back up at first base and third base, and can also play second base and the outfield corners. The 31-year-old is a career .259 hitter

A bit more on yesterday’s cuts and what lies ahead

VIERA, Fla. - When a team makes six cuts in a day this late in spring, leaving just 27 guys remaining in big league camp, you would think that nearly all the roster questions have been answered and that there isn’t much work left for the team to do before opening day. And in a sense, that’s true. We learned yesterday that right-hander Aaron Barrett

Hearing from Harper, Strasburg and Span after Nats’ 7-3 win

VIERA, Fla. - You have all the information on the Nationals’ five cuts, Aaron Barrett making the opening day bullpen and where this all leaves the competition for the final couple roster spots. There might be some more news to come on that front, especially if the Nats end up bringing in someone from outside the organization to fill the final bench job. An experienced

Nats cut Carroll, Young, Moore, Mattheus and Cedeno; Barrett makes roster (updated)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals made a host of roster moves following today’s 7-3 win over the Mets, a couple of which are a bit surprising. The team has released infielder Jamey Carroll and right-hander Chris Young, and optioned first baseman Tyler Moore, right-hander Ryan Mattheus and left-hander Xavier Cedeno to Triple-A Syracuse. Manager Matt Williams also informed right-hander Aaron Barrett, the closer at Double-A

Harper’s homer puts Nats, Strasburg ahead 5-3 (Nats win 7-3)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 7, Mets 3 Recap: Right-hander Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings, walked two and struck out seven. Bryce Harper hit his second spring homer, a towering three-run shot that glanced off a flagpole in left-center, and Ryan Zimmerman also went deep. Need to know: The Nats’ starting eight (minus the pitcher) played the

Fister to make minor league start, cuts coming in next 24 hours (M. Gonzalez released)

VIERA, Fla. - Instead of starting the Nationals’ final Grapefruit League game this spring against the Mets on Thursday, right-hander Doug Fister will instead pitch in a minor league game that day, with Jordan Zimmermann getting the ball at Tradition Field against the Mets. Fister, who is still working back from right elbow inflammation that caused him to go 19 days in between big league

Nats lineup for Strasburg’s final spring start

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg will make his final spring training start against the Mets, a game that will be broadcast on MASN HD at 1 p.m. Manager Matt Williams said this morning that he hopes to get the right-hander, who will start the Nats’ season opener in Flushing, N.Y., against the Mets, about five innings today. That could increase to six innings if Strasburg’s

Eight cuts left to make

VIERA, Fla. - Last night’s release of catcher Chris Snyder leaves the Nationals with 34 players remaining in big league camp, 33 of which are active and participating in games. Right-hander Erik Davis is progressing from a right elbow injury, but he will start the season still on the 60-day disabled list, and so he is not currently on the 40-man roster or a factor

Nats release catcher Chris Snyder (with Nieto note)

MELBOURNE, Fla. - The Nationals announced tonight that they’ve released catcher Chris Snyder, one more step to getting their roster down to the 25 players it will contain come opening day. Snyder, 33, signed a minor league contract with the Nats in December. He hit .294 (5-for-17) with a homer, a double and five RBIs in 12 games this spring. The veteran had a solid

Williams and Jordan discuss the battle for the final rotation spot after 4-1 win

JUPITER, Fla. - Matt Williams has a tough decision ahead of him. Well, he has a few of them, but probably the toughest call the Nationals skipper will have to make in the final days of spring training is which right-hander he will award his team’s final rotation spot to - Tanner Roark or Taylor Jordan. Jordan got his last start of spring today, and

Jordan closes out his spring on a high note (Nats win 4-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 4, Marlins 1 Summary: Taylor Jordan worked 5 2/3 strong innings, allowing just a run. Nate McLouth homered, doubled, walked and drove in two. Craig Stammen, Ross Detwiler and Aaron Barrett combined to work 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Need to know: Jordan left a solid final impression on manager Matt Williams in his last outing of spring. Now it’ll come

Williams on Treinen’s future, the rotation battle and a possible third lefty in the ‘pen

JUPITER, Fla. - The Nationals reassigned Blake Treinen to minor league camp today, ending a lengthy and impressive stint in big league camp for the right-hander. Acquired last offseason in the Michael Morse trade, Treinen was coming off a mediocre 2012 season at high Single-A. In a little over a year, he has turned into a valuable, up-and-coming prospect who wowed scouts and talent evaluators

Lombardozzi returns to the area, plus home opener details and lineups

JUPITER, Fla. - Steve Lombardozzi won’t end up playing far from his hometown, after all. Traded by the Nationals to the Tigers in the December deal that brought Doug Fister to D.C., Lombardozzi was shipped to the Orioles today. In return, Detroit gets veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Lombardozzi, a Columbia native and fan favorite while with the Nats, might now not only get a chance

How the decision on the final rotation spot might be handled (Treinen cut)

VIERA, Fla. - We head back to Jupiter for the second time in four days today, as the Nationals will take on the Marlins for the final time this spring. We’re getting a lot of drives down I-95 over the final week of spring games, with three trips to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter and two to Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. My rental

Hearing from Williams, Roark and Barrett after Nats’ 3-1 loss

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Tanner Roark made his final case for either the last spot in the Nationals rotation or the last spot in their bullpen today, allowing just one run in 5 2/3 innings in a 3-1 loss to the Mets. Roark struck out five and walked one today, and will finish his spring with the following line: 13 2/3 IP, 11 H,

Williams wins a challenge, Harper makes a play, Roark pitches well (Nats lose 3-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Mets 3, Nationals 1 Recap: Tanner Roark looked good in his 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run. Drew Storen allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning. The Nats’ only run came in the first on a Ryan Zimmerman infield single. Need to know: Roark further showed that he’s deserving of a spot on the roster with another solid outing.

Pregame notes on Roark and Jordan, plus why we’ve got a full Nats dugout today

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Today will mark Tanner Roark’s fourth, and final, spring training start. This will be his last chance to make an impression on manager Matt Williams and the Nationals’ decision-makers before the last spot in the rotation is decided. Williams has mentioned Roark, Taylor Jordan and Chris Young as the three options for the job, although it’s widely assumed that Roark

Rendon recovering from “really, really bad” chest cold (with Nats, Mets lineups)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Anthony Rendon remains out of the Nationals lineup today with what manager Matt Williams called a “really, really bad” chest cold. Rendon last played Thursday against the Tigers, but has been battling the chest cold of late, and has been held out of action. Rendon’s been taking antibiotics and has improved recently, Williams said, and the second baseman felt well

Espinosa: “I think it’s been a good, friendly competition”

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals are sending their A-team to Port St. Lucie today to face the Mets. The bulk of their regular position players will be making the trip, in a game that will be started by Tanner Roark. Making his final Grapefruit League start of spring, Roark is scheduled to be followed to the mound this afternoon by Blake Treinen, Tyler Clippard, Aaron

Hearing from Williams and Espinosa after Nats’ 6-5 walk-off win

VIERA, Fla. - Six of the Nationals’ 10 hits during today’s 6-5 win over a split-squad Marlins lineup went for extra bases. That includes Adam LaRoche’s third homer of spring and Danny Espinosa’s first two longballs of the Grapefruit League schedule, the latter of which was an opposite-field walk-off onto the World of Beer patio in left field. Doug Fister went 3 2/3 strong innings,

Fister and Williams on Fister’s first start back from injury

VIERA, Fla. - As if it wasn’t clear that Doug Fister felt just fine physically when he came out to start the fourth inning today, after the initial plan had him working just three frames, Fister confirmed following his outing that he didn’t have any abnormal post-start discomfort. The right-hander hadn’t appeared in a Grapefruit League game in 20 days due to inflammation in his

Fister excels in first Grapefruit League start in 20 days (Nats win 6-5)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 6, Marlins (ss) 5 Recap: Danny Espinosa hit two homers, including a walk-off shot to the opposite field in the bottom of the ninth. Rafael Soriano served up a solo shot in the seventh, Ross Detwiler allowed three runs in the eighth and Michael Gonzalez blew a save in the ninth but the Nats picked up the win. Need to

Pregame notes on Fister, Hairston, and emergency catcher and pitcher options

VIERA, Fla. - You already know that Doug Fister will be making his first spring start in 20 days today. You don’t know what Matt Williams will specifically be watching for today when it comes to Fister, who is working back from inflammation in his right elbow. But that’s what I’m here for - to pass along such information. Williams says he mainly cares about

Nats lineup has Espinosa at second, Harper hitting fifth

VIERA, Fla. - Doug Fister’s long-awaited second Grapefruit League start this spring comes against the same team that he faced all the way back on March 2 - the Miami Marlins. An MRI after Fister’s spring debut showed that the right-hander had inflammation in his right elbow, but 20 days later, he’s now discomfort-free and back on the mound at Space Coast Stadium today hoping

Fister set to return, Treinen continues to impress

VIERA, Fla. - It’s Jordan Zimmermann’s turn in the Nationals spring rotation today, but we won’t see Zimmermann on the mound at Space Coast Stadium this afternoon when the Nats host the Marlins. We’ll see Doug Fister instead. Fister will make his first Grapefruit League appearance since March 2, this after being briefly shut down with right elbow inflammation. The right-hander is scheduled to throw

Hearing from Williams, Gonzalez and Hairston after Nats’ 2-0 loss

JUPITER, Fla. - A Nationals lineup composed of bench players and minor leaguers ran into a buzzsaw in Adam Wainwright today, as the Cardinals’ right-hander threw eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out seven in a 2-0 St. Louis win. You don’t typically see a starter go eight innings in spring, but you also don’t typically see a starter only threw 81

G. Gonzalez doesn’t allow much damage, but fails to go five (Nats lose 2-0)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Cardinals 2, Nationals 0 Recap: Gio Gonzalez allowed two runs (one earned) in 4 2/3 innings. Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard, Blake Treinen and Xavier Cedeno combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Adam Wainwright, meanwhile, held a Nats lineup filled with reserves and minor leaguers scoreless over eight strong frames. Need to know: Gonzalez didn’t have his good stuff today, but

Williams not ready to name a starting second baseman (with Zimmerman note)

JUPITER, Fla. - Throughout spring training, the Nationals have been operating as if Anthony Rendon will be their starting second baseman. Rendon got the bulk of the reps at second base early in spring, while Danny Espinosa was often fielding grounders at short, working behind Ian Desmond. This will be Espinosa’s 15th game played this spring, and in those 15, he’s started at shortstop seven

We get Gio Gonzalez and Adam Wainwright today in Jupiter

JUPITER, Fla. - After getting quite a pitching matchup yesterday in Viera between Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, we’ll get another stellar couple of starters taking the mound today here in Jupiter. Gio Gonzalez will get the ball for the Nationals, and Adam Wainwright will make his fourth start of spring for the Cardinals. Gonzalez seemed to make every single one of his spring starts

Looking at the final bench and bullpen candidates

VIERA, Fla. - Let’s assume, for the sake of this discussion, that the Nationals end up going with a seven-man bullpen and a five-man bench come opening day. Let’s also assume, for the sake of this discussion, that Danny Espinosa has locked up a roster spot as a reserve infielder and that Doug Fister will be stretched out enough to open the season in the

Hearing from Williams after Nats’ 8-1 win

VIERA, Fla. - Reporters didn’t get a chance to meet with Matt Williams pregame today, but we did chat with the Nationals skipper following today’s 8-1 win over the Tigers. Here are some topics covered in that session, covering everything from Stephen Strasburg to Bryce Harper to Zach Walters: On if he needs to see anything else from Strasburg before opening day: “No, I think

Strasburg on his outing, his holding of runners and his upcoming opening day start

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg sure looked regular season-ready during today’s 8-1 Nationals win over the Tigers, throwing five scoreless innings, striking out five, working around an error in the first, getting two double play balls and contributing to a runner being cut down on the bases. Solid day overall. Anything really left to accomplish at this point for the Nats’ ace before he gets

Henley gets aggressive, Desmond goes yard (Nats win 8-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 8, Tigers 1 Recap: Stephen Strasburg threw five scoreless innings and looked very sharp in the process. Ian Desmond smoked his third homer of spring, and Ryan Zimmerman added an RBI triple. The Nats added three more runs in the ninth after Anthony Rendon singled and Jose Lobaton doubled. Need to know: Strasburg struck out five, and now has allowed

Espinosa in Nats lineup vs. Tigers

VIERA, Fla. - For the second straight day, we’re getting a Nationals lineup chock full of regulars. The only change in terms of players from last night is that Danny Espinosa is starting at second base and hitting eighth, instead of Anthony Rendon. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth flip spots today, with Zimmerman fourth in the lineup and Werth third. Other than that, the lineup

Walters, Ohlendorf, Garcia among latest Nats cuts (updated)

VIERA, Fla. - Despite putting together a strong spring, infielder Zach Walters was sent to minor league camp this morning. The move is not official yet, but once it is formally announced, Walters will be optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Walters hit .379 (11-for-29) in 15 Grapefruit League games this spring, with one homer, a triple, two doubles and five RBIs. He drew four walks and

Some takeaways from last night

VIERA, Fla. - If you happened to watch last night’s Nationals-Astros game, you might have noticed a stunningly good-looking, well-put-together man handling the sideline reporting. Not that I’m trying to put any words in your mouth or anything. Yes, I’ve been asked by MASN to pick up the sideline reporting duties for Nats games, and I’ve happily accepted. This is a tremendous opportunity and I’m

Stephen Strasburg will be Nats’ opening day starter

VIERA, Fla. - It’s not much of a surprise, but it is official: Stephen Strasburg will be the Nationals’ opening day starter. Manager Matt Williams announced after tonight’s 2-0 loss to the Astros that Strasburg will get the ball for the Nats on opening day, March 31 in New York against the Mets. It will be the third straight season Strasburg has started opening day

Jordan’s sinker darting and diving (Nats lose 2-0)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Astros 2, Nationals 0 Recap: Taylor Jordan pitched five innings, allowing one run on three hits and one walk while striking out five. But the Nats committed two errors and looked out of sorts on defense on the way to falling to the Astros. The Nats were held hitless until the sixth inning. Need to know: Jordan might’ve enhanced his chances

Nats fielding a possible opening day lineup tonight live on MASN (with notes)

VIERA, Fla. - Those of you who will be watching tonight’s Nationals-Astros game on MASN (airing live at 6 p.m.) will get a treat. Manager Matt Williams is running out a lineup loaded with regulars. In fact, Williams said that his lineup tonight could end up being “close” to the starting lineup that he runs out on opening day less than two weeks from now.

Detwiler discusses getting moved to the bullpen

VIERA, Fla. - Ross Detwiler surely didn’t envision getting moved into a relief role this spring, but that’s now where he finds himself. The Nationals left-hander learned on Monday that instead of continuing his battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, manager Matt Williams had decided to move him to the bullpen, this after he had been a member of the team’s starting

Nats grant Luis Ayala his unconditional release

VIERA, Fla. - Veteran reliever Luis Ayala asked for and was granted his unconditional release by the Nationals today, this after the team informed him that he was being cut. Ayala plans to try and land a big league job with another organization. The 36-year-old right-hander signed a minor league deal with the Nationals on February 7, in hopes of winning a spot in the

Who will prevail in fifth starter competition?

VIERA, Fla. - So it’s down to three pitchers vying for the fifth starter’s spot after Matt Williams announced Monday that left-hander Ross Detwiler, the presumed No. 5 heading into camp, would open the season as a multifaceted reliever. Which of the remaining competitors, all right-handers, do you like? Is it the promise of Taylor Jordan, who sometimes looks equal to the task and at

What’s up with Adrian Nieto in Arizona? (Roark update)

MELBOURNE, Fla. - You’ll notice a change in dateline for today’s entry. The Nationals have reached the 32nd day of spring training, and are enjoying their first off-day of camp. How off are they? There’s not even a pithy motivational quote from Matt Williams on this morning’s lineup sheet. In fact, there’s no lineup sheet at all. The collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball

Returning to Nats, Carroll has an eye on his future

VIERA, Fla. - If 12 years in the big leagues have taught Jamey Carroll anything, it’s that in the game of baseball, the little things are big. Sometimes it’s noticing a pattern of how an opposing pitcher works you as a hitter. Maybe it’s spying that an outfielder is favoring his arm a little, and that he might be ripe for trying to take an

Nats deal Koyie Hill to Phillies

LAKELAND, Fla. - This morning, the Nationals reassigned catcher Koyie Hill to minor league camp. This afternoon, they sent Hill out of the organization, trading him to the Phillies in exchange for cash or a player to be named. MLB.com was first to report the deal. The 35-year-old Hill, signed Feb. 5 to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp, batted

Williams on Fister, Souza, Solis

LAKELAND, Fla. - Rain continues to pelt the tarp at Joker Marchant Stadium, and fans hadn’t been notified that the game was canceled when media members met with Nationals manager Matt Williams outside the visiting clubhouse. The first clue: equipment backs being loaded up to return to Viera. The second clue: when reliever Jerry Blevins started a parade of players dressed in street clothes heading

Detwiler headed to ‘pen; Roark, Jordan, Young in mix for fifth starter

LAKELAND, Fla. - The competition to be the fifth starter in the Nationals rotation took an unexpected turn today, when manager Matt Williams announced that left-hander Ross Detwiler would start the season in the bullpen. That leaves three right-handers - Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan and Chris Young - battling for the last spot in the rotation, the manager said. “We’ve asked Ross to start our

McCatty on Fister’s start: “He had no complaints” (rain delay update)

LAKELAND, Fla. - Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty and manager Matt Williams delayed their departure for today’s game against the Tigers in order to watch right-hander Doug Fister throw two innings in a minor league game. McCatty liked what he saw, but wasn’t ready to slot the right-hander, who is progressing in his recovery from right elbow inflammation, for his first regular season start. “It

Souza, Perez, Solis among six cuts from Nats camp

LAKELAND, Fla. - Greetings from Joker Marchant Stadium, where the Nationals are supposed to play the Tigers today at 1:05 p.m. I say “supposed” because the weather radar is showing a large multi-colored blob of precipitation closing in on us, and the tarp is covering the field. The forecast calls for morning thunderstorms followed by scattered afternoon thunderstorms with damaging winds, conditions not necessarily conducive

Zimmerman gets start at DH against Tigers (plus Tigers lineup)

VIERA, Fla. - Many of the Nationals’ starters will be making the trip to Lakeland this afternoon to play the Tigers. Right-hander Tanner Roark will take the mound for the Nats. Ryan Zimmerman, who saw time at first base yesterday, will serve as the Nats’ designated hitter. Here is the Nats lineup for the game against the Tigers: CF Denard Span SS Ian Desmond DH

Dissecting responsibility for a stolen base allowed

VIERA, Fla. - When an opposing baserunner steals against the Nationals, who’s at fault? Sometimes it’s the pitcher, who didn’t do enough to hold the runner on, disrupt his attempt to swipe a bag or get the ball quickly enough to the plate. Sometimes it’s the catcher, who didn’t uncork a strong enough throw to nab him. And sometimes no one’s at fault - even

Williams on replay challenge, Zimmerman at first, Fister’s next step

VIERA, Fla. - When Matt Williams strolled out of the first base dugout in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game to challenge a safe call by first base umpire Gary Cederstrom, the Nationals manager knew that the initial call was correct. So why did he endure a 1:56 replay review to confirm what he already knew? “At some point during the game, you have to

Hearing from Zimmermann and Zimmerman

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had one of those days. He battled with his command, fought a gusty wind and the opposing catcher didn’t believe Zimmermann when the pitcher told him that he was bunting with two outs and requested a fat pitch over the middle of the plate. That was Zimmermann’s fourth spring start in a nutshell. He threw 44 of his

WIlliams requests replay review, call upheld

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Matt Williams just challenged a call by first base umpire Gary Cederstrom, and was unsuccessful. With two down in the seventh, Ezequiel Carrera singled to left, but left fielder Bryce Harper fielded the ball and threw behind the runner at first, firing a strike to first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Carrera appeared to get back to the bag ahead of Zimmerman’s

Zimmermann yields first run of spring, but limits damage (Nats lose 2-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Tigers 2, Nationals 1 Recap: Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann allowed his first run of the season during a four-inning stint in a match-up against Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Zimmermann yielded four hits, hit a batter and fanned four, and his spring ERA now stands at 0.69. Need to know: Zimmermann became the first pitcher to bat this spring, and was under orders

Zimmerman at third base for home game of split-squad series (with Nats lineups)

VIERA, Fla. - Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman took early grounders this morning and declared himself fit enough to play the field in the home half of a pair of split-squad games this afternoon. That one, against Justin Verlander and the Tigers, airs on MASN HD beginning at 1 p.m.; the other game is in Kissimmee against the Astros at the same time. Zimmerman will hit

Injuries improve Roark’s chances of breaking camp with Nats

VIERA, Fla. - With each day Ryan Mattheus and Ross Ohlendorf remain sidelined, Tanner Roark chances of breaking camp with the Nationals - once thought to be a long shot - improve a little more. Mattheus, a right-handed reliever, and Ohlendorf, the righty who employs the old-school windup and was mentioned as a possibility for either the bullpen or the competition for the fifth starter’s

Williams short and sweet after Nats’ 2-1 victory

JUPITER, Fla. - Nationals manager Matt Williams’ postgame comments after a 2-1 victory over the Marlins were short and sweet. But that’s what you get when two staff aces face off and the game takes only 2:45, which is pretty quick by spring training standards. Did Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg look like he was in midseason form? “He was good. It was a good matchup

Hearing from Strasburg and Zimmerman

JUPITER, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg feels great, and says his mechanics are just about “locked in.” Ryan Zimmerman is feeling better, but the Nationals third baseman isn’t so sure about manager Matt Williams’ proclamation that he’ll be ready to play the field Sunday. Those contrasting diagnoses were the takeaways from the Nats’ 2-1 win over the Marlins this afternoon. Strasburg threw four scoreless innings -

Nats, Strasburg grab 2-0 lead over Marlins (Nats win 2-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 2, Marlins 1 Recap: Stephen Strasburg worked four shutout innings, matching Jordan Zimmermann for the longest outing by a Nationals pitcher this spring. Strasburg allowed two hits, walked one and fanned four. Need to know: Nationals manager Matt Williams will use the off-day Tuesday to set his rotation, but it’s no guarantee that Strasburg will start the March 31 season

News and notes on replay, Desmond, Harper and Fister

JUPITER, Fla. - Matt Williams will manage the Nationals for the home portion of Sunday’s split-squad games, when Justin Verlander and the Tigers roar into Space Coast Stadium. Triple-A Syracuse skipper Billy Gardner will manager the other split-squad game versus the Astros in Kissimmee. Williams and the Nats’ major league staff will be in Viera because it’s the team’s second game with replay this spring

For Zimmerman, it’ll be third first and first second

JUPITER, Fla. - Matt Williams has just over two weeks left in spring training to make good on his offseason promise to get third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in a game at first base. But Zimmerman hasn’t played since Monday, and has been troubled by right shoulder and general soreness in recent days, minor maladies that have stunted Williams’ plan to increase the infielder’s positional resume

Strasburg on mound, regulars aplenty make trip to face Fish (plus Marlins lineup)

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg takes the hill against the Marlins today at 1:05 p.m. in Jupiter, and he’ll have a lot of regulars behind him at Roger Dean Stadium. Both Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman return to action, but only Harper will play in the field. Zimmerman, who has been battling general soreness, is listed as the designated hitter. Here is the Nationals lineup

Unorthodox delivery is Gonzalez’s first step toward reclaiming bullpen role

VIERA, Fla. - It’s hard to believe any pitching coach or manager would look at the sheer force behind the unorthodox delivery employed by Nationals lefty reliever Michael Gonzalez and whisper to a young hurler, “Just do what he does.” That’s because what Gonzalez does is so unusual, such a tangle of arms and legs in perpetual and powerful motion, that it hardly seems possible

Williams on Jordan and Ayala after 12-6 loss

LAKELAND, Fla. - Starting pitcher Taylor Jordan struggled with his command and said he wasn’t helped by an umpire’s strike zone that forced him to elevate pitches. The result was three-inning outing and four runs allowed, not exactly the kind of production a guy challenging for the final spot in the Nationals rotation can hang his hat on. Reliever Luis Ayala looked like he was

Fister passes bullpen session, will be re-evaluated Saturday

LAKELAND, Fla. - On a day when he watched his mound staff get battered for 22 hits and 12 runs, Nationals manager Matt Williams got a dose of good pitching news. Right-hander Doug Fister, who has been sidelined since March 2 with inflammation in his pitching elbow, threw a bullpen session without any problems this morning in Viera. While the Nationals will wait to see

Ayala roughed up, hearing from Jordan (Nats lose 12-6)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Tigers 12, Nationals 6 Recap: Detroit scored four runs in the third inning off starter Taylor Jordan and came back with five more in the fourth against reliever Luis Ayala, who got only two outs. Tyler Moore and Scott Hairston homered for the Nats. Need to know: Today’s contest is the first of three games between the Nats and Tigers in

Jordan gets the best of Cabrera (Moore cuts lead to 4-3)

LAKELAND, Fla. - Joker Marchant Stadium is one of the Grapefruit League’s gems. From its retro styling on the ediface to the variety of smells (from barbecue to burgers to grilled corn on the cob) permeating the concourse to the ever-present olde English D-clad fans, the place just oozes baseball. The fans are some of the most knowledgeable around, too, and right now, they’re none

Williams awaiting report on Fister’s bullpen session

LAKELAND, Fla. - Right-hander Doug Fister, who has been sidelined since March 2 with inflammation in his pitching elbow, threw a bullpen session this morning in Viera, Fla., one day after feeling tightness in the affected arm following three consecutive days of throwing. Nationals manager Matt Williams was awaiting the arrival of pitching coach Steve McCatty with a report on Fister’s progress, but continued to

Nationals-Tigers lineups

LAKELAND, Fla. - Greetings from Joker Marchant Stadium, where the Nationals will face the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. today. Actually, they’ll be playing one another three out of the next four days, but we’re concentrating on today. Taylor Jordan gets the start for the Nationals today, with Luis Ayala, Michael Gonzalez, Drew Storen and Blake Treinen also available to pitch. For the Nationals: CF Denard

Strong spring starts from LaRoche and Span (with note)

VIERA, Fla. - Neither Adam LaRoche nor Denard Span had the type of 2013 season he was hoping for. LaRoche hit just .237 with a lowly .735 OPS, which, if you exclude his injury-plagued 2011 season, was the lowest on-base plus slugging percentage the veteran first baseman has posted in his career. Span finished the season really strongly, hitting .338/.375/.459 over his final 39 games,

Hearing from Williams and Detwiler after Nats’ 7-5 loss

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals dropped a 7-5 ballgame to the Mets this afternoon at Space Coast Stadium, a game that was decided almost entirely by minor leaguers in the late innings. Manager Matt Williams was pleased with what he saw from most of the guys that he’ll carry north with him in a few weeks, however, especially his pitchers. Left-hander Ross Detwiler allowed a

Detwiler takes a step in the right direction (Nats lose 7-5)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Mets 7, Nationals 5 Recap: Ross Detwiler was solid in his third start of spring, allowing a run over 3 2/3 innings. The Nats took a 2-1 lead into the eighth, but allowed six total runs in the last two frames. Brock Peterson’s three-run homer in the eighth wasn’t enough to overcome the damage. Need to know: Christian Garcia, Rafael Soriano

A host of injury updates on Fister, Zimmerman and others (plus lineups and more)

VIERA, Fla. - After throwing off flat ground this morning, the third straight day he’d done so, Doug Fister felt “a little bit tight” in his right arm, according to Nationals manager Matt Williams. As a result of that tightness, the Nationals will evaluate Fister tomorrow morning before clearing him to throw his scheduled Friday bullpen session. Fister has been sidelined since March 2 because

Nats cut six, including Taylor, Purke, Hensley

VIERA, Fla. - With yesterday’s split-squad games in the books, the Nationals made six cuts today, optioning outfielder Michael Taylor and left-hander Matt Purke to Double-A Harrisburg and reassigning right-handers Clay Hensley, Josh Roenicke and Daniel Stange and left-hander Danny Rosenbaum to minor league camp. Taylor, considered the top defensive outfielder in the Nats’ organization, went 3-for-16 (.188) with a triple and three RBIs in

As two-time Tommy John patient, Garcia feels Medlen’s pain

VIERA, Fla. - Christian Garcia knows what Kris Medlen is going through right now. He knows the disappointment. He knows the frustration. He knows the doubts that might be swirling through Medlen’s mind as he wonders if he’ll ever pitch at a high level again. Four days ago, Medlen - a talented 28-year-old right-hander with the Braves who won 15 games last year - threw

Desmond update plus replay reactions after Nats’ 10-9 loss

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Ian Desmond was scratched from today’s game against the Astros due to a cut on the pinky finger of his throwing hand, manager Matt Williams said after the Nationals’ 10-9 loss to Houston. Fielding grounders during batting practice, Desmond had a ball hop up on him, and the finger split open. The shortstop was taken out of the starting lineup, and was

We get our first replay review (Nats lose 10-9)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Astros 10 Nationals 9 Recap: Tanner Roark threw 3 1/3 innings, throwing 62 pitches (37 for strikes). He allowed three runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Nate McLouth hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning. It was McLouth’s first home run of the spring. The Astros scored three runs in the ninth off of Xavier Cedeno.

Desmond scratched, plus game update (Nats lead 9-4)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Ian Desmond was scheduled to start at shortstop and hit third in today’s lineup against the Astros, but when the game began, Jamey Carroll was the third Nationals hitter into the batter’s box. Desmond has been scratched from the lineup today, with Carroll taking over as the Nats’ shortstop to begin the game. No word from the Nationals yet as to why

Updates on Fister, Zimmerman, Solis and more (we’re in a rain delay)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Not only did Doug Fister come through yesterday’s throwing session without any incident, the Nationals right-hander felt good enough that the team is having him throw off of flat ground again today, manager Matt Williams said. Fister felt discomfort in his right elbow after his spring training debut against the Marlins on March 2, and an MRI revealed that the veteran righty

Nats option lefty Rivero, reassign righty Cole to minor league camp (with lineups)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The Nationals made two more cuts this morning, optioning left-hander Felipe Rivero to Double-A Harrisburg and reassigning right-hander A.J. Cole to minor league camp. Rivero, the 22-year-old acquired with catcher Jose Lobaton from Tampa Bay, made three spring appearances, allowing two runs in four innings for a 4.50 ERA. Rivero struck out none and walked none. General manager Mike Rizzo raved about

Our first look at instant replay

VIERA, Fla. - In a couple of hours, I’ll be making the trip over to Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, spring home of the Astros. It was in that stadium last year when the Astros’ mascot walked right up to the front of the press box, stood directly in front of me, tapped on the glass and creepily started waving at me. Talk about nightmare

Hearing from Zimmermann and Williams after Nats’ 3-2 win

VIERA, Fla. - It was a quiet 3-2 ballgame this afternoon, with just nine total hits put up by the Nationals and Yankees. Jordan Zimmermann had a good bit to do with the limited number of baserunners, at least when it came to the Yankees’ offensive attack. Zimmermann worked four perfect innings today, going 12-up, 12-down. He struck out four and threw 54 pitches on

Fister comes through throwing session OK, still in line for opening day rotation

VIERA, Fla. - After sitting out the last week and a half with inflammation in his right elbow, Nationals right-hander Doug Fister played catch today off flat ground, and came through the session OK, according to manager Matt Williams. This was the first time Fister had thrown since feeling discomfort in his elbow after his spring debut on March 2. An MRI revealed that Fister

Zimmermann perfect in four innings of work (Nats win 3-2)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 3, Yankees 2 Recap: Anthony Rendon scored a run in the first and then drove in two in the second with a double into the left field corner. Jordan Zimmmermann retired all 12 batters he faced and the Nats held on for the one-run win. Need to know: Zimmermann has now thrown nine scoreless innings this spring, allowing just three

Williams confident in Soriano despite slow start, Mattheus returns to the mound

VIERA, Fla. - Rafael Soriano’s numbers this spring aren’t pretty. The Nationals closer has made two Grapefruit League appearances so far, each an inning long. In those two innings of work, Soriano has allowed seven runs on eight hits. He’s struck out three and walked none, but the right-hander’s location hasn’t been good, and it’s led to poor results. Statistics only mean so much in

Nats, Yankees lineups (game airing live on MASN at 1 p.m.)

VIERA, Fla. - Denard Span, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche were among the Nationals’ starters last night when they hosted the Astros. All four of those guys are out of manager Matt Williams’ lineup today. We’ll get a new host of starting position players in this afternoon’s lineup against the Yankees - Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos. Rendon will

On Cedeno and his work against righties this spring

VIERA, Fla. - Last night was an exciting one for me, and it had nothing to do with the Nationals. As a University of Delaware alum, I’m thrilled that my school will be making an appearance in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years. My Fightin’ Blue Hens (yes, that’s our mascot) won their conference tournament last night, and so my favorite

Williams on G. Gonzalez, Soriano, Walters, Souza and more after 7-4 loss

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals dropped tonight’s game to the Astros 7-4, with Gio Gonzalez allowing two runs over two innings, Rafael Soriano surrendering five runs and Steven Souza Jr. homering for the Nats. Here are manager Matt Williams’ thoughts on tonight’s ballgame: On what went wrong for Gonzalez after striking out the first five hitters he faced tonight: “Nothing. He was just pounding the

For G. Gonzalez, a dominant first five hitters, then a shaky finish (Nats lose 7-4)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Astros 7, Nationals 4 Recap: Rafael Soriano allowed five runs in just 2/3 of an inning of work, as the Astros broke the game open in the sixth. Need to know: Gio Gonzalez allowed two runs over two up-and-down innings, Blake Treinen threw three scoreless and Tyler Clippard allowed two hits in his inning of work, but also struck out the

Fister to throw Tuesday (with Ohlendorf, Mattheus, M. Gonzalez updates)

VIERA, Fla. - Manager Matt Williams said this afternoon that right-hander Doug Fister, who has been sidelined since his first spring training appearance last Sunday with inflammation in his right elbow, is progressing and will throw off flat ground tomorrow. The Nationals have been taking a cautious approach with Fister, treating the elbow issue with anti-inflammatories and ice, and Williams said that enough of the

Nats, Astros lineups plus pitching schedules

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals have posted their pitching schedule through Wednesday’s split-squad games, both of which are on the road. Tanner Roark will get the start for the Nats in their game in Kissimmee against the Astros. He’ll be followed by righties Craig Stammen and Tyler Clippard, and left-handers Xavier Cedeno and Jerry Blevins. In the other half of the Wednesday split-squad (played in

Talking shifts with new Nats defensive coordinator Mark Weidemaier

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals have their first home night game of spring tonight, as they host the Astros in a game that will get under way at 6 p.m. This means the typical morning schedule has been pushed back a little bit and players won’t be reporting to Space Coast Stadium until mid-afternoon. This also means that reporters don’t need to be at the

Williams on Strasburg, Garcia and Storen after Nats’ 11-1 win

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals rolled to an 11-1 win over the Cardinals today on a beautiful day in Viera. Here are manager Matt Williams’ thoughts after the win: On Stephen Strasburg, who allowed one run over three innings: “I thought he was really around the zone today, although a lot of them were called balls. But I thought he was really around it. So

The cause of Strasburg’s first-inning struggles - feeling “too good” (Nats win 11-1)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 11, Cardinals 1 Recap: Wilson Ramos had a double and three RBIs, Danny Espinosa went 2-for-3 and the Nats turned a 1-1 tie in the third inning into an 8-1 lead after four en route to a blowout win. Need to know: Four Nats relievers really turned in nice performances. Drew Storen, Craig Stammen, Christian Garcia and Luis Ayala breezed

Strasburg bounces back after slow start, Rendon homers

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg began his outing this afternoon looking pretty out of sorts. The Nationals right-hander walked the first two batters he faced and gave up an RBI single to Allen Craig, making it 1-0 Cardinals seemingly before most fans had even settled in to their seats. Strasburg eventually settled down, however, and ended up allowing just that one run on two hits

Nats seeing “improvement” in Fister’s elbow (Zimmerman, Desmond, LaRoche notes)

VIERA, Fla. - Another day at Nationals camp, another minor update on the status of Doug Fister’s right elbow. Manager Matt Williams said today that the Nats have seen “improvement” when it comes to the amount of inflammation in Fister’s right elbow, which has been bugging the right-hander since his first start of spring, a week ago today against the Marlins. “Again, we’ve medicated him

Williams discusses Nats’ first round of cuts (Johnson, Jeroloman also cut)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals made their first round of cuts this morning, sending infielder Matt Skole, catcher Jeff Howell, right-hander Gabriel Alfaro and left-hander Tyler Robertson to minor league camp. Update: Just before first pitch here today, the Nats announced two more players have been sent to minor league camp - infielder Josh Johnson and catcher Brian Jeroloman. Johnson is recovering from surgery on

Robertson sent down, plus Nats lineup (rest of cuts)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals are making their first round of roster cuts today, and left-handed reliever Tyler Robertson is among the group getting sent down. Robertson was informed this morning that he’s being sent over to minor league camp. He pitched two scoreless innings this spring, notching two saves, striking out two and walking one. The burly left-hander re-signed with the Nats on a

Jordan pushes nerves to the side, delivers another strong performance

VIERA, Fla. - Now that Taylor Jordan is three appearances into spring training and he’s settled in, having put up a couple of solid outings, he can admit it: he came into spring training feeling pretty nervous. In both of Jordan’s first two spring outings, he took a look down at the ground before throwing his first pitch and noticed something. “My legs were literally

Williams’ postgame thoughts after Nats’ 8-2 win over Atlanta

VIERA, Fla. - Here in Viera, the Nationals beat the Braves 8-2. Over in Jupiter, where the Nats had the other split-squad contest today, a game with the Cardinals ended in a 4-4 tie after 10 innings. In the road split-squad game, Jamey Carroll had an RBI single and Destin Hood hit a three-run homer. Chris Young allowed a run over three innings, A.J. Cole

Detwiler pleased with his outing (Nats win 8-2)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 8, Braves 2 Recap: The Nats added some cushion to their one-run lead in the fifth by homering twice off former Nationals righty Yunesky Maya. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back blasts, and the Nats coasted to a win over Atlanta. Need to know: Taylor Jordan looked really sharp in his three innings of work, allowing one run and

Detwiler’s pitch count elevates in a hurry (Jordan impresses)

VIERA, Fla. - Matt Williams ideally wants Nationals starters to get through three innings of work in their second start of spring training. Ross Detwiler didn’t quite get there. Detwiler went two-plus innings today, allowing a run on six hits. He struck out one and hit a batter, and was pulled after allowing a single to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman leading off the third

Williams provides the latest Fister update

VIERA, Fla. - Matt Williams should prepare himself for plenty of Doug Fister questions over the next handful of days. That’s what will come when your new starter and much-hyped offseason addition is found to have inflammation in his throwing elbow after his first spring training appearance. Williams reiterated this morning that Fister’s elbow is structurally sound after the right-hander was scratched from Friday’s scheduled

Espinosa happy with his offensive approach

VIERA, Fla. - After getting a day off yesterday, Danny Espinosa is back in the Nationals lineup today, playing second base and batting sixth. It’ll be his sixth appearance in the Nats’ first nine games played this spring. If you look at the stats line to this point, you might assume that Espinosa has gotten off to a slow start offensively. He’s gone just 1-for-12

Fister briefly discusses elbow issue, plus split-squad lineups

VIERA, Fla. - Doug Fister didn’t want to discuss his elbow issue in much detail this morning, but the Nationals right-hander did briefly answer a couple of questions about his health a day after he was scratched from his scheduled start against the Astros due to inflammation in his right elbow. According to manager Matt Williams, Fister felt discomfort in his elbow after his first

Harper feels improved health will lead to improved numbers against lefties

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals’ first split-squad games of spring are today, meaning they’ll send a couple buses of players to Jupiter to face the Cardinals and leave most of their regulars back home to take on the Braves at Space Coast Stadium. Anthony Rendon is the only 2013 regular making the trip to Jupiter, along with Nate McLouth, Scott Hairston, Tyler Moore and Jamey

Williams meets the media after 8-5 win over Astros

VIERA, Fla. - Matt Williams met with reporters following today’s 8-5 win over Houston and addressed a smattering of topics. I’m here to provide you with those responses. Williams said that he plans to make his first round of roster cuts on Sunday morning, following tomorrow’s split-squad games, assuming there are no issues that cause the Nationals to adjust that schedule. If a few guys

Ramos on his long homer, Roark and Soriano on their outings

VIERA, Fla. - Wilson Ramos’ first home run of spring was absolutely crushed. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that it might have rolled onto Stadium Parkway, which is well beyond the left field fence here at Space Coast Stadium. The Nationals beat the Astros 8-5 this afternoon, and Ramos’ homer - which traveled over the left field wall, over the World of Beer

Harper, Ramos crush their first homers of spring (Nats win 8-5)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 8, Astros 5 Recap: The Nats put up a six-spot in the first inning thanks mostly to a two-run shot by Bryce Harper and a three-run bomb off the bat of Wilson Ramos that launched into orbit. Zach Walters’ two-run single added some cushion in the late innings after Houston had trimmed the Nats’ lead to one. Need to know:

Williams wants to get a closer look at Jordan (plus lineups and other notes)

VIERA, Fla. - Former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie is here at Space Coast Stadium today, wearing a personalized No. 22 Nationals jersey. Flutie, who went to Boston College, also has shorts with a Red Sox logo on them, repping two organizations at once. I guess we can let that slide. Flutie took batting practice in the Nats’ third hitting group today and spent some time

Michael Gonzalez: “I want a ring, and I feel this is the best opportunity to get it”

VIERA, Fla. - Michael Gonzalez was one of the most popular players on the Nationals roster during his four months with the team in 2012. A gregarious presence and a veteran who is happy to show younger players the ropes, Gonzalez immediately meshed with his Nats teammates and had success in Washington, posting a 3.03 ERA in 47 games and serving as a key left-hander

Fister scratched with right elbow inflammation (with Ohlendorf update)

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals right-hander Doug Fister, who was scheduled to start today’s game against the Astros, has been scratched due to right elbow inflammation. Manager Matt Williams said that Fister will be evaluated in the coming days and have his throwing schedule pushed back, but that the team doesn’t believe the injury is anything serious. With Fister sidelined, right-hander Tanner Roark will make today’s

Nate McLouth: Internet television star

VIERA, Fla. - OK, so “star” might be overstating it a bit. But there probably aren’t many current major league ballplayers who have appeared in a major television series. Nate McLouth has. It all came together last July, when McLouth was offered a chance to appear in “House of Cards,” a popular show starring Kevin Spacey that airs on Netflix. An episode of the show

Ohlendorf dealing with back spasms, plus more after Nats’ 3-2 loss

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Manager Matt Williams said after tonight’s 3-2 Nationals loss that right-hander Ross Ohlendorf left the game with lower back spasms, which cropped up during the right-hander’s first batter faced this spring. Making his Grapefruit League debut, Ohlendorf faced just four hitters and didn’t retire any of them before being pulled from the game. He walked off with trainer Lee Kuntz,

Ohlendorf leaves game with trainer (Braves win 3-2)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Braves 3, Nationals 2 Recap: Jordan Zimmermann was sharp in his second start of spring, throwing three scoreless innings, striking out four. The Nats rallied to tie the game in the top of the ninth on Michael A. Taylor’s two-out, two-strike RBI single, but Braeden Schlehuber dropped in an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning to give the

Three scoreless turned in by Zimmermann in his second spring outing (updated)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann’s first start this spring came against the Braves. He worked two quick, scoreless innings. Zimmermann’s second start this spring also comes against Atlanta. He had to work a bit harder to get through this outing, but he delivered three scoreless frames this time, striking out four. After two pretty smooth innings to start his outing, featuring only one

A host of pregame notes from Champion Stadium

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The tarp has been pulled off the field here at Champion Stadium and it looks like there will be baseball played tonight between the Nationals and Braves. It’s incredibly overcast and gloomy-looking here, and based on the radar that I just looked at, there’s a chance we get a little more rain before first pitch. But Jordan Zimmermann should be

Pitching order set through Saturday (with tonight’s lineup, weather update)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals will have their first split-squad games of spring Saturday, and they’ve posted their pitching order through those games. Doug Fister will start tomorrow at home against the Astros, with Tanner Roark piggybacking him. (For those unaware, that’s the term used when another starter immediately follows the pitcher who began the spring game. I don’t expect Roark to actually get a

Given Clippard’s workload, how long can he keep it going?

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals head back to the Orlando area today to face the Braves for the second time in three days. Only this time, they do so at night. The two National League East rivals are scheduled to square off at 6:05 p.m. tonight, although heavy rain is in the forecast for today. We’ll have to see whether that affects Jordan Zimmermann’s second

Williams discusses Nats’ 11-5 win over Mets (with Walters update)

VIERA, Fla. - The guys at the back end of the Nationals’ spring training roster were the ones doing the heavy hitting today, as the Nats put up nine total runs in their final two turns to the plate en route to an 11-5 win over the Mets. Ian Desmond homered early on for the Nats, but they got the bulk of their offense from

Gio Gonzalez and Tyler Clippard speak after their spring debuts (Nats win 11-5)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP Score: Nationals 11, Mets 5 Recap: Four Nationals smacked home runs - Ian Desmond, Brian Goodwin, Sandy Leon and Matt Skole - and the Nats scored nine unanswered runs in the late innings to come back from a 4-2 deficit. Need to know: Gio Gonzalez was solid in his spring debut, throwing two scoreless innings. Tyler Clippard worked a scoreless fifth. Jerry

G. Gonzalez works two scoreless, plus updates on the rotation and more (updated)

VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez has completed two scoreless innings of work against a Mets split squad in his spring debut, allowing one hit and striking out one. It was an easy two frames for Gonzalez, who surrendered a Kirk Nieuwenhuis single through the hole on the left side with one out in the first, only to then get Andrew Brown to tap out to

Williams on Espinosa’s start, Walters at second, thoughts on Carroll (update)

VIERA, Fla. - I’ve got all kinds of notes for you this morning on the Nationals’ middle infield options. Prepare yourselves accordingly. Danny Espinosa has started spring by going 0-for-10 with an RBI and a hit by pitch, numbers which don’t exactly demonstrate that the middle infielder is clicking offensively. It’s important to note that this is still a very small sample size, however, and

Nats lineup vs. Mets has Walters starting at second (Walters scratched)

VIERA, Fla. - Zach Walters has played just 11 games at second base in his professional career. He’ll play second today as the Nationals host the Mets for the first time this spring. Gio Gonzalez will make his spring debut today, and the Nats lineup features many regulars. Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa are both out of the starting lineup, however, and Walters is getting

Many factors need to be considered in Nats’ bullpen battle

VIERA, Fla. - Even prior to yesterday, the Nationals had a great deal of competition for the final couple of spots in their bullpen. The signing of left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez to a minor league deal only adds to that competition. With Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen having a lock on five of the Nats’ relief jobs (as long

In meaningless game against Braves, Nats put a few drills into action

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - You’ve heard, and will continue to hear, that spring training results mean absolutely nothing and that these games are more of a chance for players and managers to work on specific things and get practice in various situations. If you need evidence of that, look to the bottom of the eighth inning of today’s 8-4 Nationals loss to the Braves,

Strasburg discusses his debut (Nats lose 8-4)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP SCORE: Braves 8, Nationals 4 Recap: Matt Williams rolled the dice late in the game, deciding to implement something the Nats have worked on in drills. With the game tied and the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the eighth, Williams brought in right fielder Steven Souza Jr. to play first base, giving the Nats five infielders. The move

Strasburg’s spring debut goes smoothly, ends quickly (game update)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg barely had time to get loose today and his spring debut was already over. Strasburg went two innings against the Braves this afternoon, facing the minimum six hitters. He allowed a groundball single to Justin Upton in the second, but then got a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Chris Johnson to end the inning and his

Werth set to play tomorrow, Mattheus cleared to start throwing (M. Gonzalez note)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Jayson Werth’s spring debut might have been bumped back a few days, but he’s now scheduled to appear in his first Grapefruit League contest tomorrow against the Mets. Werth was originally scheduled to start in right field for the Nationals on Sunday, but he was scratched from the lineup due to a right biceps strain. Manager Matt Williams said today

Nats sign left-hander Michael Gonzalez to minor league deal (with Nats lineup)

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals and popular left-handed reliever Michael Gonzalez have reunited. The team announced this morning that it has signed Gonzalez to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. Gonzalez posted a 4.68 ERA over 50 innings with the Brewers last season. He struck out 60 and walked 25, posting a 1.660 WHIP. The 35-year-old lefty was a

How a trade and a season at Double-A jump-started Blake Treinen’s career

VIERA, Fla. - After a day filled with travel yesterday, the Nationals will hop back on the team charter buses today and make the trip to Lake Buena Vista to face the Braves, the second time in four days they’ve seen the reigning National League East champs. Stephen Strasburg will get the ball for the Nats, making his first start of spring. A number of

Quick Williams quotes after Nats’ first loss of spring

TAMPA, Fla. - The Washington Nationals will not go through their Grapefruit League schedule undefeated. Tears are pouring down your faces right now, I’m sure. The Nationals dropped a 4-2 game to the Yankees today, giving them their first spring loss this year. Ross Detwiler allowed all four Yankees runs (three earned), and Zach Walters homered to provide one of the few offensive highlights for

Hearing from Detwiler, Roark and Lobaton after 4-2 Nats loss

TAMPA, Fla. - It may only be spring training, and the results may mean nothing, but that doesn’t mean that Ross Detwiler wasn’t nervous before today’s 4-2 loss to the Yankees. After all, it was his first time in a big league game in exactly eight months. Detwiler, who missed the last half of last season with a back injury, went 1 1/3 innings today,

Detwiler retires four batters in spring debut (Nats lose 4-2)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP SCORE: Yankees 4, Nationals 2 Recap: Ross Detwiler allowed four runs, three earned, in 1 1/3 innings of work in his spring debut, while Zach Walters kept his hot spring going by crushing a solo homer to center. Need to know: Detwiler showed some positive signs, but struggled with his fastball command, while Tanner Roark delivered two uneventful, scoreless frames. Those two,

Williams wants Nats’ coaches making lineup decisions as a group

TAMPA, Fla. - Matt Williams has made it very clear to his coaches that he wants input from every one of them throughout spring training. The Nationals’ coaches have multiple group meetings every day, discussing the skill-sets of various players, workout schedules and how the pitchers will be used throughout spring. But the input Williams has received from his coaches doesn’t end there. The construction

Harper update, plus Williams on fifth starter competition and Moore’s playing time

TAMPA, Fla. - Bryce Harper was sent home yesterday after reporting to the Nationals’ spring training complex with what manager Matt Williams called “flu-like symptoms,” but Williams said that Harper was feeling much better today and wanted to make the trip to Tampa as part of today’s travel roster. Williams held Harper back, allowing him to rest up today, but said that he plans to

Detwiler to make spring debut

VIERA, Fla. - Left-hander Ross Detwiler will make his Grapefruit League debut against the Yankees in Tampa this afternoon. Denard Span will lead off and play center for the Nationals. For the Nationals: CF Denard Span 2B Danny Espinosa LF Tyler Moore DH Scott Hairston C Jose Lobaton 1B Matt Skole SS Zach Walters 3B Will Rhymes RF Eury Perez LHP Ross Detwiler For the

On Walters’ strong start to spring and how his game needs to evolve

VIERA, Fla. - Today marks the one road trip this spring when the Nationals will make the drive across the state to the west coast of Florida. There are some gorgeous spring facilities on that side of the Sunshine State. The Red Sox have a nice new stadium in Fort Myers. The Orioles’ facility in Sarasota is snazzy. We made the trip to Clearwater last

Williams discusses Nats’ third straight Grapefruit League win

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals are 3-0 thus far in spring training. Start printing those World Series tickets. The results here in spring mean nothing, but there were plenty of positives for manager Matt Williams to pull from today’s 10-3 win over the Marlins, far more positives than he was able to pull from yesterday’s ugly 16-15 victory over the Braves. Doug Fister, making his

Werth dealing with biceps strain, Harper sent home due to flu-like symptoms

VIERA, Fla. - Right fielder Jayson Werth was set to make his spring training debut this afternoon against the Marlins, but that will have to wait. Werth was scratched from today’s game less than an hour before first pitch due to a right biceps strain, according to Nationals manager Matt Williams. Williams said after the Nats’ 10-3 win over the Marlins that Werth felt discomfort

LaRoche homers, Fister speaks after his Nats debut (Nats win 10-3)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP SCORE: Nationals 10, Marlins 3 Recap: Doug Fister allowed a run in two solid innings of work in his spring debut, and the Nats reserves broke open the game in the middle innings, turning a 3-2 game after four into a 10-3 win. Need to know: Zach Walters is now 5-for-5 with two doubles and a triple this spring, and he’s made

Fister fans two, allows a run in Nats spring debut

VIERA, Fla. - Doug Fister’s first spring inning as a Washington National couldn’t have gone much better. His second wasn’t quite as smooth, but he still completed a solid Nats spring training debut. Fister struck out two and got a pop-up to short in the first inning, breezing through the top of the Marlins order, and then allowed two hits, a walk and a run

Williams talks plans for Zimmerman at first base (plus Rendon, Stammen notes)

VIERA, Fla. - As promised, the Nationals were at about 9:30 a.m., out on the field at Space Coast Stadium going through situational defense drills. These drills had already been scheduled for this morning before yesterday’s five-error, sloppy performance against the Braves. But after Matt Williams saw his team kick the ball around a good bit yesterday, he was happy to put them through some

Nats and Marlins lineups (Werth scratched from lineup)

VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth will take the field this afternoon for his first game this spring, as the Nationals host the Marlins in a game that you can catch live on MASN at 1:05 p.m. Werth sat out the Nats’ first two games as he eases into spring, but he’s in the lineup today as the Nats face Marlins lefty Brad Hand. Doug Fister

A large serving of leftovers

VIERA, Fla. - How often does a team go 11-for-23 with runners in scoring position, put up 25 hits, score 15 runs, benefit from five errors by the opposing team and lose a ballgame? Yeah, yesterday’s game was a funky one regardless of whether the outcome actually meant anything or not. The Nationals were outhit 25-12 yesterday and allowed nine runs in a single inning,

Williams recaps a long, ugly Nats win

VIERA, Fla. - As reporters were waiting to meet with manager Matt Williams in his office following today’s 16-15 Nationals win over the Braves, a game in which the Nats made five errors and allowed 25 hits, defensive coordination and advance coach Mark Weidemaier walked by. “Coached the hell out of ‘em today, huh?” Weidemaier joked. The Nats’ spring training home opener was not the

The game gets sloppy, Zimmermann gets in his work (Nats win 16-15)

NATIONALS QUICK WRAP SCORE: Nationals 16, Braves 15 Recap: Jordan Zimmermann threw two scoreless innings in the blink of an eye, and then everything fell apart for both teams. The Nats and Braves combined to record 37 hits. They had 14 total walks. They made six errors between them. At least this game is finally over. Need to know: Thank goodness for Luis Ayala. If

Zimmermann works through two quick, scoreless innings (Purke hit hard)

VIERA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann’s work day is over 25 minutes after he threw his first pitch. But as manager Matt Williams likes to say, “That’s a good thing.” Zimmermann quickly got in his two innings of work this afternoon, allowing just an infield single to Jordan Schafer leading off the game. The Nationals right-hander got five ground balls and struck out Dan Uggla to

Looking back and looking ahead, plus Mattheus update

VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth is the only Nationals starting position player who won’t appear in one of the Nats’ first two spring training games, but manager Matt Williams says that’s by design. Werth typically eases his way into spring, and the Nats had planned to give the right fielder these first two games off. Werth is perfectly healthy, Williams says, and he’ll be in

Nats, Braves lineups for Saturday afternoon matchup

VIERA, Fla. - It’s a beautiful day for a home opener, as the Nationals kick off their home slate of spring games at Space Coast Stadium this afternoon against their division rivals, the Atlanta Braves. Jordan Zimmermann will make his first spring start for the Nats, and after sending most of their starting infield to Port St. Lucie yesterday, the Nats will have most of

Williams’ focus on the fundamentals carries into spring games

VIERA, Fla. - Throughout the first two weeks of camp, Nationals manager Matt Williams primarily had his players focus on the fundamentals. The Nats have spent time working on hitting the cut-off man on a throw from the outfield. They’ve practiced getting a good secondary lead that can allow the runner to move up on a wild pitch. They’ve had drills where pitchers come to

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