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Williams provides update on pitchers as weather forces Nats off the field

VIERA, Fla. - Heavy rain overnight and more this morning forced the Nationals off the practice fields today. Nationals manager Matt Williams indicated that Saturday was already expected to be a light day with no bullpen throwing sessions scheduled. “It’s a little sloppy out there,” Williams said. “Pitchers threw and we hit in the cage. We didn’t cancel. But to get out there on the

A critical spring for Tyler Moore

VIERA, Fla. - Fans of all ages jostle for position outside the Space Coast Stadium practice facility, hoping to get some of their favorite Nationals players to sign a baseball or take a selfie after team workouts. Most shout for Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman or Max Scherzer to stop for a second, but on Thursday afternoon it wasn’t one of the Nats stars who became

Lefty Hill on his way to Viera after signing minor league deal

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals have agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Rich Hill on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The Angels released Hill last summer after he failed to get an out in two relief appearances. The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal in July. He bounced back and forth from Triple-A to the majors, posting a

Williams hasn’t decided starter for exhibition opener, updates on Escobar, Zimmerman

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Matt Williams said all of his pitchers are healthy and pitching well even after heavy bullpen sessions the past couple of days. The staff will get a day off tomorrow before throwing live batting practice beginning Sunday. “We’ll do that for a couple of days and get them some hitters to look at,” Williams said. “Everybody’s on track. Everybody feels

Roundup: Span’s birthday, Scherzer’s first week, Espinosa’s swing (with video)

VIERA, Fla. - This morning’s workout began with the team singing “Happy Birthday” to center fielder Denard Span. “It was heartfelt man,” Span said. “It felt good. Birthdays are birthdays. You start to get a little bit older and birthdays don’t mean as much as they used to, but it was a lot of fun getting put in the circle and everybody singing.” While in

No more second thoughts for Yunel Escobar

VIERA, Fla. - Yunel Escobar wasn’t thrilled when he found out he was headed to the Nationals in a trade last month. That’s because Nats general manager Mike Rizzo made the move to acquire Escobar not to play shortstop, but rather second base, a position the 32-year-old hasn’t seen action at since his rookie season in 2007. “I had a conversation with him through his

Even on shelf, Jayson Werth takes part in first full-squad workout

VIERA, Fla. - Jayson Werth was on the field this morning as the Nationals began their first official full-squad workouts in preparation for the 2015 season. He was limited though, not participating in any throwing or hitting drills, while still recovering from right shoulder surgery early last month. Werth continues to focus on opening day as a return date with the initial rehabilitation period being

Versatile Mike Carp could provide value off the bench

VIERA, Fla. - In January, general manager Mike Rizzo signed Mike Carp to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Carp appeared in 41 games in left field and 29 games at first base for Boston in 2013 and was an important utility option for the Red Sox during their run to a World Series championship. While splitting time mostly between left

No limits for Anthony Rendon’s greatness

VIERA, Fla. - Anthony Rendon does not walk around with a superstar-type aura surrounding him. Yet the 24-year-old infielder appears to be just that. He’s entering his third season in the majors, coming off a tremendous sophomore campaign where he hit .287 with 21 home runs, 83 RBIs and a league-leading 111 runs scored. The media-shy Rendon didn’t escape the accolades of the Silver Slugger

More Harper on grievance, Rizzo, Scherzer, rotation and expectations

SARASOTA, Fla. - Some other gems from Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who held his first media session of spring training this afternoon: On any hard feelings from his grievance against the club and his relationship with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo: “Mike’s awesome. Truly. If I had a problem, I’d probably tell him straight to his face because that’s how he is and that’s how

Harper’s not lacking confidence

VIERA, Fla. - If Bryce Harper can back up the words he spoke this afternoon, then notify the park police: There’s going to be a parade with red and white floats coming down Constitution Avenue in early November. Oozing with confidence, the 22-year-old Harper sat on the bench in the first base dugout at Space Coast Stadium and delivered his preamble for the 2015 Nationals

A “lean” Harper is here and Williams is excited (with photos, video)

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals Manager Matt Williams took the field at Space Coast Stadium to throw some batting practice to a handful of his talented hitters. The group included Anthony Rendon, Denard Span, Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper. The 22-year-old Harper made his first appearance of spring training in the clubhouse this morning, showing a trim but bulked-up frame after the four-month offseason. “Reporting today,

Replacing Clippard isn’t easy

When evaluating the Nationals as they prepare to embark on a season with the highest of expectations, it’s easy to get caught up in the incredible starting rotation that general manager Mike Rizzo has assembled. Few uncertainties surround this team, but a glaring one is the dilemma of who will step in to replace the departed Tyler Clippard. The reliable right-hander was expected to resume

Williams Day Four roundup (plus, when do we see The Babe?)

VIERA, Fla. - One more day of physicals tomorrow for all position players and then Thursday begins official full roster workouts. Nationals manager Matt Williams said all pitchers are healthy through the first four days. “Everybody’s good,” Williams added. “Nothing more than spring training legs and backs. That’s part of the deal.” For the second consecutive day, Williams began the morning on the Space Coast

Zimmerman ready to prove himself at first base

VIERA, Fla. - It’s a new year and a new position for Ryan Zimmerman. Aside from injuries, Zimmerman has been the Nationals third baseman ever since he was the first player drafted by the organization after moving to Washington in 2005. But those injuries, combined with the departure of Adam LaRoche and the emergence of Anthony Rendon, have forced the Nationals to move Zimmerman across

All eyes on Escobar

VIERA, Fla. - All position players are due to report for Nationals spring training today. As of Monday evening, outfielders Jayson Werth and Mike Carp, and infielders Wilmer Difo and Yunel Escobar were the only players who had not yet appeared at Space Coast Stadium. Much of the focus will be on Escobar when he trots out to his new second base position on Thursday,

Despite rumors, Desmond is ready to “enjoy this ride” (plus pics)

VIERA, Fla. - No player has been in the Nationals organization longer than Ian Desmond, who was selected by the Expos in the third round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. But Desmond’s tenure as Nats shortstop is threatened by his looming free agency at the end of this season. Desmond spent this offseason in the vulnerable position of hearing his name floated in trade

Williams wastes little time reintroducing Zimmerman to first base (with camp photos)

VIERA, Fla. - Ryan Zimmerman has traded his third baseman’s glove for a first baseman’s mitt - and last season’s crash course at a new position for more intensive hands-on instruction. Though Nationals position players aren’t required to be in camp until tomorrow, Zimmerman arrived at Space Coast Stadium just before 8 a.m. this morning. About 90 minutes later, even before pitchers and catchers headed

Zimmerman, Desmond arrive in camp with important springs looming

VIERA, Fla. - Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond strolled into the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium this morning, a day before position players are required to show up. After some high fives and hugs with teammates and coaches, Zimmerman settled into his far corner locker. It was no surprise when the Nationals opted not to bring free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche back. Zimmerman has

Williams on powerhouse rotation Nationals have assembled

VIERA, Fla. - When you’ve got the kind of pitching horses the Nationals possess in their rotation, hardly a day will go by that someone won’t be asking manager Matt Williams to weigh in on just how good his starting five really is. The acquisition of free agent Max Scherzer, who signed a seven-year, $210 million deal last month, strengthened an already deep unit, pushing

Uggla sees a second chance with Nationals

VIERA, Fla. - In June 2009, Dan Uggla hit his 100th career home run in his 502nd game, faster than any second baseman in Major League Baseball history. That season was right in the middle of a five-year streak where Uggla went deep 30 or more times in each campaign, making him the game’s only second baseman to accomplish that feat. But those days seem

Video: Jeers and cheers for Gonzalez during comical bunting drill

VIERA, Fla. - The 30 Nationals pitchers are placed into six groups during workouts. Gio Gonzalez’s group - 1B, if you want to be specific - is not only loaded with some serious talent but also some funny characters. Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman, Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen round it out. Sunday’s morning workout began with this quintet’s first bullpen session, where all pitch simultaneously

Williams on Span and Werth’s recoveries, Treinen as a starter and apple turnovers

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Matt Williams would likely be thrilled if center fielder Denard Span could replicate his 2014 season. Span batted .302 with 39 doubles and 31 stolen bases, and his 184 hits tied Philadelphia’s Ben Revere for most in the National League. The hit total was a career high for Span, while his batting average was the second-best mark of his seven

Gonzalez, Fister and Zimmermann throw first bullpen sessions of spring (with workout photos)

VIERA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann took a break from his first bullpen session of the spring Sunday morning, exiting the fenced-in area where the ‘pen mounds are located and making a pair of hard right turns to get to the water jug. As he was en route to quench his thirst, a fan next to quench his thirst, the guy next to the jug called

Kieboom savoring every minute of his first major league camp

VIERA, Fla. - It’s not hard to spot the guys at spring training who aren’t long for camp. Every clubhouse is full of guys who fill a necessary role: to log innings once starting pitchers and key relievers have finished throwing their allotted pitches, or take the field or grab a bat late in games when the regulars are done their work for the day.

Can Espinosa be right this season?

VIERA, Fla. - Danny Espinosa dug into the right side of the batter’s box yesterday as Nationals manager Matt Williams tossed him practice pitches. The discussion of Espinosa giving up switch-hitting, and focusing completely on batting right-handed, has been debated for a few years within the Nationals organization. Williams confirmed that will be the main goal for Espinosa throughout spring training. “Well, the objective for

The unselfish Tanner Roark

VIERA, Fla. - Max Scherzer’s addition to the Nationals’ five-man rotation leaves Tanner Roark as the odd man out. Definitely not what Roark was expecting after delivering a 15-10 record with a 2.85 ERA and 1.093 WHIP in his first complete season as a starter last year. On Saturday, Roark began spring training grouped with Scherzer in the first bullpen session. Afterward, he sat in

After first workout, Williams on Scherzer, Espinosa, Roark and more

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Matt Williams met the media today for the first time since Nationals pitchers and catchers began showing up at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday. Williams, in his second year at the helm, was fresh off the Nationals’ announcement that they exercised its 2016 option on his contract. Some of the highlights from today included Williams explaining the plan for Danny

Ramos impressed by Scherzer on first day (with video, photos)

VIERA, Fla. - It was quite the scene when new Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer took the practice mound next to Stephen Strasburg at the start of today’s first official workout for pitchers and catchers. Fans and media hurried to get a good spot for an early preview of the two fireballers planning to lead the Nats’ star-studded rotation. Wilson Ramos crouched down behind the plate

With 2016 option picked up, Williams gets back to business (with Rizzo comments)

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals manager Matt Williams led the first day of spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers on Saturday, just a short time after the club announced it had exercised its 2016 option on his contract. That decision means Williams, who skippered the Nats to their second National League East title in three seasons and won NL Manager of the Year honors in

Sights from the first day of Nationals workouts (with video and photos)

VIERA, Fla. - At 10:39 a.m. this morning, a few seconds before the horn signaling the first drill of Nationals spring training sounded, right-hander Max Scherzer uncorked a throw toward catcher Wilson Ramos in the area where the first bullpen sessions were convening. Spring training 2015 was under way. It was cloudy and cool at the Space Coast Stadium complex the Nationals call home. Players

Zimmermann on a winter of rumors and prospects for an extension

VIERA, Fla. - There were times this offseason when Jordan Zimmermann couldn’t help but wonder if his career in Washington, D.C., was over. Try as he might to stick to his usual winter routines, there were constant reminders that he was entering his walk year, that his pending free agency might result in the Nationals dealing him if they were unable or unwilling to come

Nationals reward Williams by picking up 2016 option

VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals announced this morning that they have picked up the team option for 2016 on manager Matt Williams’ contract. It was a pretty good first year for Williams, who made his major league managerial debut with the Nats in 2014. The best record in the National League (96-66) and a runaway NL East title helped Wiliams to earn recognition as the

Motivated Scherzer determined to be even better

VIERA, Fla. - Max Scherzer arrived for his first official day of work with the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium on Friday. After a mandatory physical and some clubhouse introductions, the $210 million man met the media for the first time since he was introduced at Nationals Park on Jan. 21. “Just to be able to be a part of this organization, it’s been great

Janssen: “I love when everybody’s against you”

VIERA, Fla. - On Thursday, Casey Janssen walked into a new team clubhouse for the first time in his career. Since being drafted in 2004, Janssen has spent the last 10 years in the Blue Jays organization. The right-hander said it was odd to put on new colors - Nationals red - but that he had heard from several friends around the game that assured

Strasburg: “Everybody wants to be that No. 1 guy”

VIERA, Fla. - Stephen Strasburg arrived at Space Coast Stadium on Thursday ready to prepare for his sixth season in the majors. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years since Strasburg made his sensational major league debut, fanning 14 Pirates all the way back in June of 2010. The 26-year-old Strasburg has usually been the hottest trending Nats topic dating back to his

Gonzalez: “Just shut up and play”

VIERA, Fla. - Gio Gonzalez arrived for spring training as somewhat of a forgotten man in the incredible Nationals starting rotation. The hype surrounds the signing of Max Scherzer while some controversy follows the impending free agency of Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. Stephen Strasburg seemingly will always dominate headlines. So here’s Gonzalez coming off a frustrating season in which he landed on the disabled

Ramos sets healthy goals

VIERA, Fla. - This Nationals roster is facing more expectations than questions heading into the season. But the ability to stay healthy is one issue that’s concerning for this team, considering several key players have missed extended time in recent years. Catcher Wilson Ramos is one of those players who’s struggled with injuries. In 2012, a knee injury limited him to only 24 games behind

Reunited and it feels so good

VIERA, Fla. - Last offseason, Doug Fister was the Nationals’ prize offseason acquisition when he arrived in D.C. via a trade with Detroit. This time around, it’s his former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer who is the talk of NatsTown. Fister landed in Detroit from Seattle at the trade deadline in 2011. Over the next two-plus seasons, Scherzer and Fister were a combined 84-39 while helping

Warming up

VIERA, Fla. - It’s finally here. Nationals pitchers and catchers are due to report at Space Coast Stadium to begin preparing for a 2015 season that’s loaded with expectations. World Series predictions surround this team, leaving heavy pressure resting on the shoulders, or arms, of a starting rotation that’s as talented as the game has seen in the past few decades. The oddsmakers loved the

Nats positional preview: Starting pitchers

Time to take a look at the part of this Nationals team guaranteed to damage a plethora of hitters’ egos and cause a lot of sleepless nights for opposing managers in 2015: the starting rotation. Every night throughout the season, the Nationals’ starting pitcher should have his name in lights on a marquee outside the ballpark. This is a blockbuster five-man rotation. It figures to

Nats positional preview: Bullpen

With just two days left until pitchers and report to Space Coast Stadium for spring training, our positional breakdown reaches the relievers. A couple of major moves by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo in January changed the whole dynamic of the bullpen. First, the departure of Tyler Clippard surprised many. The reliable right-hander was expected to resume his role as the eighth inning set-up man

Nats positional preview: Outfield

Lofty expectations follow Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper into 2015, their third season playing together in the Nationals outfield. Span anchors the trio playing center field and batting leadoff for the Nats. He’s entering his third year in D.C., after coming in a trade from Minnesota in 2012. His contract with the Nationals expires at the end of this year giving him added

Nats positional preview: Second base

No question, Max Scherzer was the biggest offseason acquisition for the Nationals, but the second most important move came in January when general manager Mike Rizzo shipped reliever Tyler Clippard to Oakland for infielder Yunel Escobar. The Nationals have been searching for an answer at second base for a couple seasons. The plan last year for Anthony Rendon to play at second was scrapped early,

Whose glove do you love? (plus Werth Chia Pets and Rendon gnomes)

Whose glove do you love? The Nationals accomplished a lot in 2015, among them most wins in the National League and Silver Slugger Awards for Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon. But not one Nats player was awarded a Gold Glove last season. In fact, in the 10 seasons of Nationals baseball, only two Nationals - Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche - have received Gold Gloves.

Nats positional preview: Third base

Two words: Anthony Rendon. All he did was finish fifth in the National League MVP voting and win a Silver Slugger Award in just his second season in the majors. Rendon led all NL third baseman with a .287 batting average, slugging percentage (.473) and OPS (.824). He added 39 doubles, six triples, 21 home runs and 83 RBIs, and his 111 runs scored were

Video: Harper is throwing his weight around

Bryce Harper is becoming one of social media’s new stars. The 22-year-old has been piling up re-tweets and likes on his Twitter and Instagram accounts over the past few weeks with anything from pictures of him hanging with Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter at Super Bowl parties to crushing golf balls into outer space. By the looks of his most recent Instagram post, it appears

Nationals announce non-roster invitees to spring training

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo today announced 20 non-roster invitees for spring training. First baseman/outfielder Mike Carp, second baseman Dan Uggla, third baseman Ian Stewart and right-hander Heath Bell were among 13 players the Nationals agreed to terms with on minor league contracts with invites to major league spring training. Seven additional minor league players received spring training invites, including right-hander Rafael Martin and infielder

Span gearing up, no regrets for Suarez, plus 30 more grapefruits

Denard Span is coming off an outstanding season in 2014. His 184 hits tied Philadelphia’s Ben Revere for most in the National League. For the year, Span batted .302 with 39 doubles and 31 stolen bases, and once again played stellar defense in center field. In early December, Span underwent surgery to repair a nagging sports hernia. On Tuesday, Span appeared on MLB Network’s “Hot

Blevins wins arbitration case

Nationals relief pitcher Jerry Blevins won his arbitration case against the Nationals today. The left-hander was scheduled to make $1.675 million in 2015 before arbitration and was arguing for a bump to a salary of $2.4 million. The Nationals countered with an offer of $2.2 million. The three-person panel in St. Petersburg, Fla., decided in favor of Blevins. The 31-year-old Blevins was 2-3 with a

The All-Star waiting game continues for D.C.

Last Wednesday, new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred visited the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy and was quite vague when asked about the chances of an All-Star Game ending up in the nation’s capital. “We’re going to make some announcements about All-Star games in the relatively near future and I won’t go beyond that,” Manfred said. On Tuesday night, the Miami Herald reported that

Nats positional preview: Shortstop

There’s been plenty of activity involving the shortstop position this offseason. In December, the Nationals traded for San Diego’s Trea Turner, who will be the player to be named in a three-team deal that also involved the Rays. Turner, a highly ranked prospect, was selected by the Padres with the 13th overall pick in June’s First-Year Player Draft. Last month, general manager Mike Rizzo acquired

Nats positional preview: First base

It was no surprise when the Nationals opted not to bring free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche back. Ryan Zimmerman has battled injuries the past few years and the best option was to move him across the diamond to first base - especially with five years remaining on a $100 million extension he signed in 2012. LaRoche produced 82 home runs and 269 RBIs in

Harper crushes “Happy Gilmore” drive

We’ve been well aware of the herculean power Bryce Harper possesses since his high school days. We’ve witnessed the violent bat speed that’s produced some enormous home runs. On Saturday, Harper took to the golf links to display some of that power, while also doing his best Happy Gilmore impersonation. He showed the video on his Instagram account: 340 yards! Why not? What's up Happy

Rizzo: Espinosa’s on the right side in 2015

While addressing Nationals season ticket holders at a hot stove event on Saturday, general manager Mike Rizzo made some news by saying that Danny Espinosa would only hit from the right side in 2015, according to blog posts and Twitter comments from some of the fans in attendance. The discussion for Espinosa to give up switch-hitting, and focus completely on batting right-handed, has been debated

Scherzer: “Business part of the game is ugly”

It’s been almost three weeks since Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo stunned the baseball world by signing free agent pitcher Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract. On Friday, a candid Scherzer spoke on Detroit’s WDFN radio about what led to his choice to leave the motor city for the nation’s capital to become the game’s highest paid right-handed pitcher. “I realize how fortunate

Werth-y options

It hasn’t been a quiet offseason for Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth. At this point, I’m sure you’ve seen the TMZ-like images of Werth entering a Fairfax County jail to serve part of a five-day sentence after pleading guilty to a reckless driving charge. It was the result of being pulled over last July after exceeding 105 mph in his Porsche on Interstate 495 in Virginia.

Nats positional preview: Catcher

With just about two weeks remaining until pitchers and catchers report, we begin our daily position-by-position breakdown of the Nationals. We lead off with catcher. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has assembled one of best starting pitching rotations in the past few decades. The staff possesses a unique array of pitches and personalities. Manager Matt Williams and pitching coach Steve McCatty will mostly rely on

Manfred knows Washington politics well

New Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was in the nation’s capital on Wednesday to visit with kids during a tour of the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. While posing for a picture, one of the youngsters asked Manfred which major league team was his favorite. Manfred, not wanting to name a team for obvious political reasons, opted for what he thought was a safer answer.

I can’t hear you, Philadelphia?

How far have the Phillies fallen? So far that a Pennsylvania radio station has decided to drop them from its airwaves to start broadcasting Nationals games. That’s right. Sports Radio 96.5 FM in Harrisburg, Pa., is kicking the Phillie Phanatic to the curb and making way for Teddy and the boys. Ron Giovanniello, regional vice president of Cumulus Media Pennsylvania, confirmed the move to The

A competitive Janssen expects success in Washington

A few weeks ago, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo left some questioning his decision to trade reliever Tyler Clippard to Oakland for infielder Yunel Escobar. It seemed as though Rizzo was prepared to go with his young arms in the bullpen, especially after trading Ross Detwiler to Texas and allowing Rafael Soriano to leave as a free agent. But last Wednesday, Rizzo responded to the

Nats officially announce Janssen signing, designate Fornataro for assignment

The Nationals officially announced this afternoon that right-handed reliever Casey Janssen has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2016. The deal had previously been reported and confirmed last Wednesday, and is worth $5 million. “We are happy to add Casey Janssen to our stable of relief arms,” general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “We’re excited about what

A super week for Harper and Williams

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper had a tremendous Super Bowl week. Harper rubbed elbows with some big names in the sports and entertainment world over the weekend and chronicled many of the moments on his Instagram account. Bryan Harper, a Nationals farmhand, accompanied his brother throughout his desert odyssey. Bryce Harper’s week in Arizona began at Nationals manager Matt Williams’ house for the Big Game, Big

Defense is trending

It was a spectacular defensive play by New England rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler that secured the Lombardi Trophy for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. On the other side, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is dealing with second-guessing from the media and others for not giving punishing running back Marshawn Lynch the ball at the 1-yard line as the game clock was winding down.

A February call-up (or please allow me to introduce myself)

Hello, Nats fans! I’m thrilled to be with you throughout the upcoming Nationals season. In the words of Mick Jagger or Eminem, depending on your era or musical preference, please allow me to introduce myself. I’m part of what many would call a rare breed. I’m actually a native Washingtonian. I was born and raised in Wheaton, Md. Unfortunately, I grew up like most of

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