WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Pitchers have each thrown at least two bullpen sessions. Catchers have begun to get acquainted with each of those pitchers and establish some rapport.
Now it’s time for the rest of the Nationals roster to join them on the field.
The Nats will hold their first official full-squad workout this morning, all position players having reported on time and all having passed their physicals Monday. And it’s not a moment too soon for those who are eager to get the meaty portion of spring training underway at last.
“As they start trickling in, I start realizing it’s: ‘Game On,’ ” manager Davey Martinez said yesterday. “They’re all here, they’re all excited. And today, after seeing them all, I’m really excited about tomorrow.”
There’s only so much that can be accomplished during the first five days of pitcher/catcher workouts, so today presents an opportunity for a lot more work on the practice fields outside of FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. There will be team fundamental drills, baserunning drills, defensive drills, live batting practice and more.
And there’s not much time for all of this to be accomplished. The Nationals’ Grapefruit League opener is Saturday night against the Astros, allowing for only four days of full-squad workouts before they take the field.
So you’ll see live batting practice already this morning, a spring training rite of passage that pitchers will love and hitters won’t be anywhere close to ready to experience. (Most just “track” pitches, but a few will take their hacks versus Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and company, offering a fun and rare opportunity for teammate-on-teammate crime.)
We’ll get our first look at the Nationals’ new middle-infield combo, with Brian Dozier joining Trea Turner. Dozier pointed out that he had to learn a new shortstop pretty much every season he was in Minnesota, so this won’t be anything new to him. But it does take time for a double play duo to get on the same page.
We’ll also get our first look at an outfield that features Juan Soto in left field, Adam Eaton in right field, and Victor Robles and Michael A. Taylor in center field. Though the Nationals want Robles to prove he’s ready for the everyday job, he needs to actually prove he deserves it, so that process begins today.
Really, a lot begins today.
“The pitchers and catchers, they set the precedent already,” Martinez said. “So far, it’s been unbelievable - the energy, the excitement, it’s been a lot of fun. These guys coming in and being together for the first time, it’s going to be exciting.”