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At least five players will miss opener after one tests positive

The Nationals will be without at least five players and one staff member for Thursday night’s season opener after learning early this morning one of the players tested positive for COVID-19, general manager Mike Rizzo announced today. After making it through six full weeks of spring training with zero positive tests in the organization, the Nationals had every reason to be confident as they headed

Nationals out to prove 2020 was an aberration

The Nationals went 93-69 in 2019 and won the World Series, then returned in 2020 to go 24-36 and finish tied for last place in the National League East. There are two lines of thought when trying to analyze what happened last season. Either this was the start of an inevitable downward trend for an organization that spent so long climbing the mountain to finally

What we made too big a deal about and what we glossed over

The Nationals woke up this morning in Washington. Spring training is officially over, and the final countdown to opening night is on. This was a spring unlike any previous one, with protocols, reduced fan capacities and reduced travel across Florida. But it still was, first and foremost, about baseball. The Nats avoided any real COVID-19 issues and were able to keep their focus on the

Strasburg, relievers finish strong as spring season ends

The final day of spring training is about a starter building up his pitch count, a few relievers getting some last-minute work in and everybody else just avoiding injury. The Nationals, it would appear, survived today’s Grapefruit League finale, a 2-2 tie with the Astros at their shared complex in West Palm Beach, Fla. Next up: a charter flight to Washington, a day off so

Soto, Castro playing in simulated games before opener

Though the Nationals don’t doubt Juan Soto and Starlin Castro will be ready to play in Thursday night’s season opener in Washington, both players will have to do so without having appeared in the final three games of the exhibition season in Florida. Neither Soto nor Castro is in the lineup for today’s Grapefruit League finale against the Astros, but each took five at-bats during

Lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach on MASN

And so we have arrived at the final day of spring training. Six weeks just flew by, right? The Nationals have one last exhibition to play today against the Astros, one final battle for Palm Beach, if you will. At this stage of the process, it’s a whole lot of regulars playing, and both teams have prominent starters on the mound: Stephen Strasburg and Jake

As spring training wraps up, Nats itching to head north

Ballplayers have long since learned how to compartmentalize spring training, how to focus on what needs to be accomplished on an individual day and not start thinking too far ahead. It’s a six-week camp, remember. The last thing you want to catch yourself doing on Feb. 21 is counting down how many days are left. There comes a point late in every spring, though, when

Lester, Corbin both pitch as Nats try to figure out order

A manager has two goals on March 28: Get everybody who still needs work enough work before camp ends, and make sure everybody’s healthy when the charter plane takes off in 24 hours. Davey Martinez took solace in both regards following the Nationals’ 11-3 win over the Cardinals today in the penultimate game of the Grapefruit League season. His heart did skip a beat momentarily

Nats plan to open with Castro at third, Harrison at second (updated)

The Nationals intend to open the season with Starlin Castro as their everyday third baseman and Josh Harrison as their primary second baseman, manager Davey Martinez revealed today while discussing the horde of moves announced by the club Saturday that all but set the opening night roster. In deciding to option both Carter Kieboom and Luis García to their alternate training site in Fredericksburg, the

Lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in West Palm Beach on MASN

We’ve reached the final stretch at last. Two more days, two more exhibition games before the Nationals break camp and head north for good. And after Saturday’s events, there suddenly isn’t much left for them to decide before opening day. The swath of transactions they made during the off-day essentially set the 26-man roster. Unless they acquire another infielder or reliever before Thursday, the opening

What’s next for Nats after cuts and what Kieboom has to do

The Nationals livened up an otherwise sleepy off-day on Saturday with a swath of roster trimming that pretty much cements the 26-man roster heading into Thursday’s opener. But that doesn’t mean general manager Mike Rizzo’s work at putting together the best possible team is over. As other major league clubs make their cuts to get down to the 26-man roster limit, Rizzo will be closely

Kieboom, García headed to Triple-A after latest Nationals cuts

Infielders Carter Kieboom and Luis García were optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Saturday afternoon, as the Nationals made a series of roster moves that pretty much solidify their 26-man roster for Thursday’s nationally televised home and season opener against the Mets. Also optioned to Triple-A were left-hander Sam Clay, right-hander Kyle McGowin and outfielder Yadiel Hernández. Utility men Jordy Mercer and Hernán Pérez, both of

Scherzer still working hard, right down to final spring tune-up

Max Scherzer’s final tune-up of spring training wasn’t exactly his prototypical final Grapefruit League start. Though it happened at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, it was in a B game against an Astros lineup populated with minor leaguers and a few major league hitters. No fans were in attendance, meaning Scherzer’s grunts and reactions were clearly audible, meaning the right-hander was in midseason form.

Hudson seeks spring intensity, Harrison makes case to play more

Daniel Hudson was prepared to enter from the Nationals bullpen during the bottom of the third Friday night in Port St. Lucie, Fla., should teammate Javy Guerra not be able to complete the inning before reaching his pitch limit. When Guerra did retire the side, Hudson had a little time to rest before warming up again to pitch the bottom of the fourth. It may

Harris didn’t have blood clot, Soto and Castro optimistic (updated)

Despite an initial diagnosis of a blood clot in Will Harris’ pitching arm, the Nationals learned tonight a procedure performed on the veteran reliever today found no such evidence, and now they’re suddenly hoping to have him back pitching for the team soon. “Tonight, not only did we win, but we got some really, really good news,” manager Davey Martinez said during his Zoom session

Lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie

The bad news: Neither Juan Soto nor Starlin Castro is in the Nationals lineup for tonight’s game against the Mets. The good news: Both players appear to be fine, and their statuses for opening night (also against the Mets) do not appear to be in danger. Soto was upbeat today talking to reporters after departing Thursday night’s game when his right calf cramped during his

Whether opening or closing, Avilán wants chance to help Nats

Luis Avilán has made 454 big league appearances since 2012, plus another 48 in the minors. All have come in relief. He hasn’t started a game since he was a 22-year-old Braves prospect at Double-A, nearly a decade ago. So when the veteran left-hander took the mound for the bottom of the first Thursday night at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., he immediately

Soto’s night ends in first inning due to calf cramp

When Juan Soto battled his way through an 11-pitch at-bat with young Marlins flamethrower Sixto Sánchez in the top of the first tonight in Jupiter, Fla., and ultimately trotted to first base having drawn a well-earned walk, it felt like the most encouraging thing the slumping Nationals slugger had done in days. But when the inning ended a few minutes later and his teammates took

Castro MRI shows “very mild strain,” Nats trying out opener

Starlin Castro remains day-to-day during the final week of spring training after an MRI of the veteran infielder revealed a “very mild” hamstring strain, according to Nationals manager Davey Martinez. Castro, who hurt himself running the bases Tuesday against the Cardinals, doesn’t appear to be seriously injured. But at this late stage of the spring, each day lost carries more significance. The Nationals, who face

Lineups: Nats vs. Marlins in Jupiter

Anybody want to get weird on March 25? Well, let’s get weird! The Nationals tonight are starting Luis Avilán., a reliever. He will serve as an “opener,” pitching the bottom of the first against the Marlins for sure and possibly taking the mound for the bottom of the second as well. He’s also batting eighth, and Davey Martinez says if that spot in the lineup

What to make of Soto’s shockingly bad spring numbers?

The heart of the Nationals lineup has put up some huge numbers this spring. But here’s the strange thing about that: Juan Soto has had nothing to do with it. While Josh Bell, Ryan Zimmerman and Kyle Schwarber tear up the Grapefruit League with a combined 10 doubles, 14 homers and 31 RBIs, Soto has produced next-to-nothing this month. The best hitter on the team,

Mechanics, not ruptured calf tendon, on Strasburg’s mind

Stephen Strasburg was on the mound in a Grapefruit League game, 10 days since he departed his last such appearance with what, believe it or not, was a ruptured tendon in his left calf. And he threw 83 pitches while showing no obvious lingering effects of an injury that isn’t nearly as serious as it sounds. Those are positive developments for the right-hander and the

Castro getting MRI on hamstring, Harris to be examined soon

Though the Nationals do not believe Starlin Castro’s hamstring cramp is serious, they will have the veteran infielder undergo a precautionary MRI to check for anything that could sideline him longer than another day or two. Castro pulled up a bit while running from first to third base during the seventh inning Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla., and was removed from the game. Afterward, he described

Lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach

It’s been 10 days since Stephen Strasburg strained his left calf while throwing a pitch against the Astros, and though he hasn’t pitched again in an official game, by all accounts, the right-hander hasn’t been hindered at all. He threw in a simulated game Friday just to make sure he was fine. And now tonight he’s back on the mound to face the Astros again

Nats face tough decisions after learning Fedde is out of options

Davey Martinez’s message to the three pitchers competing for the No. 5 starter’s job this spring has been consistent throughout. “Regardless of who’s going to start or what, they’ll have an opportunity to pitch,” the Nationals manager repeated Tuesday during a Zoom session with reporters. “Like I’ve said before, we’re gonna need all these guys across the course of the year.” Indeed, the Nats know

Lester and Ross effective, Castro suffers minor cramp

That the Nationals blew a three-run lead to the Cardinals with two outs in the bottom of the ninth today in Jupiter, Fla., was not of any real significance. Of far more consequence on this late March afternoon were the mostly positive pitching performances of Jon Lester and Joe Ross, who combined to record all but two of the game’s 27 outs. And for a

As Kieboom struggles, Nats looking at Castro at third base

Four days ago, Davey Martinez was asked if Starlin Castro had taken any grounders at third base this spring. The Nationals manager had a succinct but sly response. “No,” Martinez said Friday. “So far, it’s just been second. So far.” Whether he knew at that moment the answer was about to change, or whether he only knew it might change, it did indeed change. Castro

Lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in West Palm Beach

It’s crunch time now, the final week of camp, when big decisions need to be made. And for the Nationals, there may be no bigger decision to make than at third base. All winter and all spring, they have made it clear Carter Kieboom is their guy, so much so that to date they hadn’t had Starlin Castro or Luis García take grounders at third,

What still needs to be resolved in the final week of camp

Would you believe it’s the final week of spring training? That’s right. The Nationals have only seven more days in West Palm Beach, Fla., before heading north. Opening night is tantalizingly close now. The question, of course, is: Are the Nats ready? And the answer is: not quite. There are several matters that still need to be sorted out before the end of camp. Players

A ragged - but healthy - spring debut for Rainey

Tanner Rainey would’ve liked to walk off the mound at the end of the sixth inning Sunday and felt nothing but positive vibes about his first game appearance of the spring. Alas, these things don’t always work out quite so swimmingly. Rainey’s 2021 Grapefruit League debut, delayed three weeks by a small muscle strain near his right collarbone, wasn’t pretty. “Today was not a good

Scherzer focused on details, not result, in opening night preview

The matchup was eye-popping on paper, the rare March 21 matchup that actually got people excited. Max Scherzer versus Jacob deGrom. A majority of regulars in the lineup for both the Nationals and Mets. Including both pitchers electing to bat against each other in an opening night preview 11 days early! And, yes, both pitchers have officially been named opening night starters, Mets manager Luis

Rainey to make game debut today, Parra progressing well

Tanner Rainey will make his Grapefruit League debut at last today, a critical sign the Nationals reliever should be ready to open the season on the active roster. Rainey’s spring had been delayed by a muscle strain near his right collarbone. Though it forced him to slow things down early in camp, the right-hander resumed throwing weeks ago and pitched in a simulated game earlier

Lineups: Nats vs. Mets in West Palm Beach (updated)

As far as Grapefruit League games go, this is about as good as it gets. Max Scherzer versus Jacob deGrom, late in camp, with tons of regulars in the lineup for both teams. In what very well may be a preview of opening night at Nationals Park, arguably the two best pitchers in the National League (winners of four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 2016-19)

With nine days to go, another crack at a 26-man roster

We have reached the stretch run of the spring. Yes, as of this morning, the Nationals have completed 31 days of camp. Only nine remain before everyone packs up shop in West Palm Beach, Fla., and heads north. There’s still a lot that can and will change between now and then. And there are plenty of questions that still must be resolved. But the shape

After solid start, Nats must decide where Voth fits in

Nothing is official yet, of course, and there’s still time for events to change, but at the moment it doesn’t appear Austin Voth will be in the Nationals season-opening rotation. With Joe Ross looking healthy and comfortable pitching again after opting out of the 2020 campaign, the one job up for grabs this spring is close to being locked up. What, then, is to become

Robles likely to return Sunday after minor back injury

Victor Robles appears to be fine after departing Friday night’s game with back tightness and should return to the Nationals lineup Sunday afternoon. Robles, who had to come out of the Nats’ 10-9 exhibition win over the Astros in the fifth inning after coming up awkward on a throw from center field to the plate, told manager Davey Martinez today he “feels fine.” The 23-year-old

Lineups: Nats vs. Marlins in West Palm Beach

With only 10 days left in spring training, now is the time to try anything that hasn’t been tried yet, just to get one last look at someone in some situation before the regulars take over full-time during the final week of camp. For the Nationals, that means Josh Harrison gets the start tonight in left field. The veteran utility man has mostly played the

Can Suero find consistency using more off-speed pitches?

Wander Suero has thrown 2,360 pitches in his major league career, and 1,762 of them have been cutters. That’s just a shade under 75 percent. Yes, three out of every four pitches he throws are cutters. Ask him why so many, and the Nationals reliever smiles and responds in English for the first time in a long Zoom session with reporters earlier this week: “It’s

Strasburg strong in return, Robles departs with tight back

Stephen Strasburg’s return from a strained left calf didn’t come in an official game, but that’s about the only detail of today’s outing that was less than ideal. Pitching in a simulated game against teammates prior to the Nationals’ Grapefruit League contest versus the Astros, Strasburg went five innings and threw 74 pitches, according to information provided by the club. Both numbers represented a step

Harris seeing specialist after blood clot found in arm (updated)

Will Harris is leaving camp to be examined by a specialist in St. Louis after a blood clot was discovered in his right arm, a potentially serious condition for the veteran right-hander and one that could test a Nationals bullpen that likely won’t be as deep on opening night as projected only a few weeks ago. “It’s hard, because medically I don’t know the extent

Lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach

As they attempt to get every member of their projected rotation the work they need on the day they need it to stay on schedule, the Nationals left themselves with a hole for tonight’s exhibition game against the Astros. It’s Stephen Strasburg’s day to pitch, but the veteran right-hander instead is throwing a simulated game this afternoon so club officials can keep him in a

On Bell’s power, Hernández’s chance and Plan B at third base

Ask almost anyone who watched Thursday’s game what stood out about Josh Bell, and just about every answer would involve his seventh-inning homer. Ask Davey Martinez, and the answer is something completely different, something hardly anyone besides a manager would notice. “What I love about him, if you guys didn’t notice, he hit a ground ball earlier and he ran really hard to first base,”

Butterflies or not, Lester pleased with delayed spring debut

Jon Lester has been doing this since 2006, taking the mound on a warm spring afternoon in either Florida or Arizona and beginning the process of preparing his arm and body for the upcoming season. Today represented the 58th spring training start of the left-hander’s long career. Suffice it to say, he knows the routine by now. And yet listen to how Lester described his

MASN to broadcast Nationals’ final two spring games

MASN will be broadcasting the Nationals’ final two games of the spring later this month, the network announced today. The Nats’ March 28 game against the Cardinals and March 29 Grapefruit League finale against the Astros will be televised from The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Both broadcasts begin at 1 p.m. EDT. MASN or MASN2 will again broadcast every Nationals regular-season game not picked

Strasburg will start on schedule, but in simulated game

Stephen Strasburg won’t miss any time with a left calf strain and will make his next start Friday on schedule. But the Nationals right-hander won’t be doing it in a Grapefruit League game. Strasburg will throw four innings in a simulated game against teammates prior to the Nationals’ official 6:05 p.m. exhibition against the Astros, manager Davey Martinez revealed this morning. “He says he feels

Lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie

It took a little longer than expected, but today Jon Lester finally makes his Nationals spring training debut. The veteran left-hander, a key acquisition this winter, has been slotted all along as the club’s No. 4 starter. But when he needed surgery to remove one of the parathyroid glands in his neck earlier this month, that schedule was delayed. The good news is, Lester is

Tweaks in his setup show Strasburg’s maturation as a pitcher

As he enters his 12th major league season, right-hander Stephen Strasburg is definitely more of a pitcher than a thrower. And even as he approaches the twilight of his career, Strasburg is still learning. Think back to the beanpole-thin 21-year-old who took the game by storm in 2010 and you’ll see a gangly fireballer. All arms and legs, Strasburg sometimes had to rein his body

García’s confidence has never been in doubt

There is a word Luis García keeps using when talking about himself: confidence. He uses it not as some means of bragging about his immense talent and reputation at the ripe age of 20, but rather to explain how he managed to hold up during his first season in the major leagues and, at times, even thrive. “At every level I’ve played at, I’ve always

Corbin labors, Kieboom presses, Bell homers again

Patrick Corbin has made three starts this spring. And he has faced the Marlins three times this spring. That’s not what anyone would consider an ideal scenario, but there’s not much the Nationals can do about it in this modified Grapefruit League schedule that includes only four opponents who train close to West Palm Beach, Fla. Corbin’s first start (two innings, one run allowed on

Lester to debut Thursday, Strasburg still testing calf

Jon Lester is ready to make his Nationals debut. And that could help give Stephen Strasburg a couple extra days to let his strained calf heal without disrupting the team’s rotation plans to begin the season. Lester has cleared all hurdles since rejoining camp following March 5 surgery to remove one of his parathyroid glands and is slated to start Thursday against the Mets in

Lineups: Nats vs. Marlins in West Palm Beach

The Nationals have a date this evening with the Marlins, and Patrick Corbin is once again the main attraction. Corbin, who tossed three scoreless innings against this same club in Jupiter, Fla., five days ago, now faces Miami at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where he’ll look to build up his pitch count to about 60 and attempt to complete four innings for the

Parra debuts, Zimmerman slugs, Suero dominates

It was a spring training game, three at-bats and five innings in left field in Jupiter, Fla. Gerardo Parra had done something along those lines hundreds of times in his career. And yet this one felt different. Some 17 months removed from the last game he played in a Nationals uniform, the veteran outfielder wasn’t just going through the motions when he took the field

D.C. approves 5,000 fans at Nationals Park to begin season

The District of Columbia has approved the Nationals’ request to allow crowds of up to 5,000 at Nationals Park, ensuring they will join Major League Baseball’s other 29 clubs in playing in front of at least some fans to begin the 2021 season. In a letter sent to the team Monday night, D.C. Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Christopher Rodriguez said the club’s

Scherzer remains dialed in, dominates Cards again

It’s only spring training, so all the usual caveats must apply. These games don’t count. Different players take different approaches when they’re on the field. Objectives aren’t the same on March 15 as they will be on April 1. Now, having gotten all that out of the way, this needs to be said: Max Scherzer looks absolutely dialed in right now. With a dominant, four-inning

Rotation plans hinge on Strasburg and Lester’s progress

The Nationals remain hopeful Stephen Strasburg will be able to make his next start after straining his left calf Sunday but are preparing contingency plans in case he needs more time to heal. Strasburg is scheduled to receive treatment at the club’s complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., today, after which he and the Nationals medical staff will decide whether he can attempt to play

Lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in Jupiter

Sure, there are some big-name Nationals starting today against the Cardinals in Jupiter. Max Scherzer is on the mound. Trea Turner, Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman are in the lineup. But let’s talk about the guy who is making his 2021 Grapefruit League debut, because I have a hunch some fans are more excited to watch him than anyone else: Gerardo Parra. Yes, the Baby

Pandemic alters interactions between veterans and youngsters

Stroll through a pre-pandemic spring training clubhouse, or eye up what’s happening on the back fields of a camp complex, and you’ll see a lot of teaching and mentoring going on. Even if it’s not readily apparent, it was happening. A young hurler could ask a veteran about pitch grips. An inexperienced infielder can work with coaches and teammates to refine his footwork or positioning.

Calf strain forces Strasburg’s early exit in loss to Astros (updated)

When Davey Martinez saw Stephen Strasburg’s plant leg buckle as he threw a 3-1 curveball to Jose Altuve, he knew something was up. And by the time the Nationals manager reached the mound to confer with his right-hander, he’d already made the decision that Strasburg’s second spring training start was over. “It was really not much of a discussion,” Martinez said via Zoom after the

Martinez on Lester and Rainey, first cuts and Barrett’s knee surgery

Davey Martinez’s morning Zoom session with reporters was delayed about 35 minutes so the Nationals manager could watch left-hander Jon Lester throw live batting practice, an important step after returning to camp following surgery to remove one of his parathyroid glands. “He threw 37 pitches, two innings. He looked good,” Martinez said of Lester, who returned to spring training in West Palm Beach earlier this

Lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach (plus first cuts)

Stephen Strasburg makes his second spring start this afternoon, and the right-hander will be facing the same team and starting pitcher - the Astros and righty Lance McCullers - that he saw in his first outing on Tuesday. Since it’s his second outing, expect Strasburg to push toward three innings and about 50-60 pitches. That would be in line with a usual second start for

With walk-off single, Tomás throws his hat in the ring

The Nationals have one open spot on their bench they need to fill, and the sense entering camp was that it was likely to go either to a utility infielder like Hernán Pérez or Jordy Mercer or an experienced backup outfielder like Gerardo Parra or Yadiel Hernández. There is another possible candidate for the job, though, especially if general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey

Ross continues to make his case for final spot in rotation

If the conventional wisdom entering the spring was that the No. 5 spot in the Nationals rotation was Joe Ross’ to lose, the right-hander has done nothing to date to suggest he’s in serious danger of coughing up the job to someone else. Ross hasn’t necessarily dominated in his two starts, but he’s been good enough. He’s been healthy. And he’s feeling quite comfortable sliding

Limited spring schedule forces Nats to get creative

As much as they’ve tried to make this feel like a normal spring training, there are certain unavoidable differences from previous Nationals camps because of COVID-19 protocols. Like the limited number of opponents. Because Major League Baseball decided to reduce travel across the state of Florida, the Nats are only playing the four other clubs that train within 45 minutes of West Palm Beach: the

Lineups: Nats vs. Mets in West Palm Beach

After their first true day off of the spring, the Nationals are back in action tonight in West Palm Beach, facing the Mets. And tonight marks the end of the second turn through the projected rotation. Joe Ross is on the mound for his second start, looking to build off a solid debut against this same New York lineup in which he threw 39 pitches

Nats are only MLB club still waiting for answer on fans

There are only 19 days to go until opening night at Nationals Park, and there are still a whole lot of decisions that must be made before then. Will Joe Ross be the No. 5 starter? Will Victor Robles be leading off? Will Carter Kieboom be the starting third baseman? Who will round out the bullpen and the bench? Oh, yeah, and this little question

One year later, spring training shutdown still feels surreal

The Nationals are off today, and there is some strange symbolism to be found there, because exactly one year ago, they played one of the final six games to be held in Florida before Major League Baseball shut down all spring training operations. March 12, 2020, was a day unlike any we’d ever experienced. It was surreal. It was filled with uncertainty. It was, as

With increased velocity, Corbin feeling more like himself

When Patrick Corbin pitched 364 days ago - in what proved to be the final game of spring training 2020 before Major League Baseball shut down in response to the rapidly growing pandemic - his fastball hovered in the 87-88 mph range. And though it ticked up to an average of 90 mph once the season finally took place last summer, it wasn’t enough to

Soto sits again, Rainey throws again, cabbage races again

Juan Soto reported to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this morning, feeling better after spending Wednesday at home with what was believed to be a sinus issue, and wanted to play in the Nationals’ exhibition game against the Marlins. And Davey Martinez initially put Soto in his lineup. He was batting second, behind Victor Robles and ahead of Trea Turner in the latest attempt

Lineups: Nats vs. Marlins in Jupiter (updated)

Another day, another opportunity for Davey Martinez to try out what appears to be his preferred opening day lineup. That’s the one that opens with Victor Robles, Juan Soto and Trea Turner, in that order. At this point, it should be clear Martinez really, really, really wants Robles to prove he can handle the leadoff spot. And though he has flip-flopped Soto and Turner in

How to evaluate Kieboom midway through camp

There are two types of ballplayers in any spring training camp: Those who know they can use this time to prepare themselves for the regular season, and those who believe they need to perform now to have a chance to still be around for the regular season. As much as everyone wishes he was in the first category, the truth is many are left stuck

Scherzer ramps up, Soto stays home, Parra plays in B game

After using his first start of the spring to make sure his sprained left ankle was healed and his pitching mechanics were still in proper form, Max Scherzer remarked that his objective was to “go out there, get my work in and worry about getting the intensity later.” It appears five days counts as “later” in Scherzer’s mind. Making his second start of the spring

Lester already noticing positive effects of parathyroid removal

Though he didn’t quite know it at the time, Jon Lester does know he wasn’t feeling right at least a year ago. The veteran left-hander, who has built a legacy as one of baseball’s true workhorses, noticed he didn’t have as much energy as he used to. He would take the mound at Wrigley Field at times last season and feel way more fatigued than

Lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in West Palm Beach

The second half of spring training begins today. Yep, 20 days have passed and 20 days remain before the Nationals break camp and head north. So this is about the time when things begin to start ramping up a bit, when pitchers start pitching more, when regulars start playing more. In that vein, Max Scherzer today makes his second start of the spring. He threw

For Harrison, versatility is the name of the game

Josh Harrison has been an everyday player. From 2014-17, he took an average of 516 plate appearances for the Pirates and managed to earn two All-Star selections and even a ninth-place finish in National League MVP voting. Harrison’s true value, though, lies in his ability to do what most others in baseball cannot do: play multiple positions well while still providing a quality bat. Which

All systems normal for Strasburg in return from wrist surgery

The two times Stephen Strasburg took the mound in 2020, Davey Martinez couldn’t help but watch nervously, knowing his co-ace was dealing with some kind of ailment in his right hand. And as he watched Strasburg the first few times he threw off a mound this spring in West Palm Beach, Fla., the fourth-year manager again had to at least think about his pitcher’s surgically

Lester won’t make game debut until at least next week

Jon Lester’s Nationals debut won’t come quite as soon as everyone initially hoped it might. The veteran left-hander, recovering from surgery to remove his thyroid gland, is now back in West Palm Beach, Fla., and picking up where he left off when he departed town last week for the procedure. But despite some thought at first he might pitch in a Grapefruit League game by

Lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach

The last time Stephen Strasburg pitched in a game, he didn’t make it out of the first inning. Three batters into his Aug. 14 against the Orioles at Camden Yards, the right-hander departed with an all-too-familiar slump of his shoulders, another injury having prevented him from pitching. Seven months later, Strasburg is back on the mound tonight. The carpal tunnel neuritis that plagued his wrist

Key to Nats having real bullpen depth: Suero and Finnegan

The Nationals liked their bullpen depth before they ever signed Jeremy Jeffress, so they clearly still like their bullpen depth even after releasing Jeffress on Sunday for non-performance reasons. But they do need a couple of less-proven relievers to step up and prove they deserve to be trusted by manager Davey Martinez to get important outs when the season begins. The Nats’ top four relief

Pitching in his first game in a year, Ross feels right at home

For nearly a year, Joe Ross had only been able to play catch with his brother, Tyson, or perhaps face a few hitters on a field at home in California. Finally this spring, there were a couple of sessions of live batting practice against his Nationals teammates, but still not an actual game against another team wearing a different uniform. So while today’s Grapefruit League

Nats won’t detail Jeffress decision; Lester back in camp

Though they will not reveal any reasons for Sunday’s release of reliever Jeremy Jeffress, the Nationals are acknowledging the surprise move was not for baseball reasons. General manager Mike Rizzo, speaking to reporters via Zoom this morning from West Palm Beach, Fla., repeated the unusual phrase he provided Sunday in announcing the Jeffress release, saying only it was for “personnel reasons.” Rizzo deflected several follow-up

Lineups: Nats vs. Mets in West Palm Beach

Slowly but surely, the Nationals are putting a team on the field that resembles the one we’ll see in April. And today’s game against the Mets might feature the closest yet. The lineup is full of regulars, with the added twist of Ryan Zimmerman at first base. And with Victor Robles again leading off, that creates a whole lot of depth. To wit: Starlin Castro

How the Nats are trying to get better stopping the run game

In a short 2020 season filled with frustrating loses, the Nationals’ Sept. 20 doubleheader opener in Miami was especially agonizing. The seven-inning game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Max Scherzer loaded the bases with two outs, then thought he was out of the jam when he got Starling Marte to ground to third on his 119th pitch of the afternoon,

Lester to rejoin club Monday, Jeffress released

Jon Lester is flying back to West Palm Beach, Fla., today and is expected to be back in Nationals camp Monday to resume his preparation for the season following successful surgery to remove his thyroid gland. Manager Davey Martinez said the prognosis on Lester’s thyroidectomy, performed Friday in New York, were “very encouraging” and the veteran left-hander should be fine to pick up where he

Stevenson picking up where he left off in September

Savvy baseball observers know not to put too much stock into stats from September or spring training. Despite their seemingly glittery appearance, they can be nothing more than fool’s gold, and players who have raked in September or spring often find themselves quickly struggling once pitchers adapt to them. But Andrew Stevenson made last September his personal coming-out party, picking up hits in all 12

Corbin happy with how his changeup has progressed

As first spring training starts go, Patrick Corbin took the positives out of his two-inning outing against the Marlins on Saturday afternoon. The left-hander’s slider looked crisp, his sinker effective. He was able to tinker with a cutter and a changeup he wants to integrate more into his mix to keep opposing hitters thinking. Best of all, he got his work in before rain started

Martinez on rain, Lester, injuries, García at short, Scherzer’s velocity

Nationals manager Davey Martinez has plenty on his plate during the typical day at spring training. He has to check on each of his players and see how they’re doing, a daily interaction the skipper prides himself upon. He makes sure to gauge the recoveries of any injured Nats. He needs to converse with his coaches to make sure everything is running smoothly in camp

Lineups: Nats vs. Marlins in Jupiter

Left-hander Patrick Corbin makes his first start of the spring today when the Nationals travel to Jupiter, Fla., to face the Marlins in a Grapefruit League game. Like most of the Nationals rotation, Corbin has been slow-played this spring, gradually building up arm strength and endurance in preparation for the regular season. Since it’s his first outing, expect him to go no more than 30

A still-early attempt at projecting the opening night roster

Would you believe spring training is already 40 percent complete? That’s right, the Nationals have made it through the first 16 days of a 40-day camp. Time flies when you’re having fun, huh? (Or when there’s actually baseball being played.) That’s not to suggest the Nats are anywhere close to being ready for opening night, though. They’ve still got a lot to figure out over

Ankle sprain behind him, Scherzer gets back to work

Max Scherzer has dealt with sprained ankles before. Both his left and his right, actually. So when it happened about four weeks ago and briefly delayed his spring training debut, the Nationals ace wasn’t particularly worried about that. No, what Scherzer was more worried about was a sprained left ankle setting off a chain of events that might lead to an injured right arm. “When

Lester has surgery, Armenteros shut down with sore arm

Jon Lester underwent thyroid removal surgery today in New York and was recovering this afternoon, according to Nationals manager Davey Martinez. Martinez said the club was still waiting to hear from doctors for more details about Lester’s procedure, which was scheduled two days ago after the veteran left-hander and cancer survivor reported feeling tired, prompting medical tests that concluded his thyroid gland should be removed.

Lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in West Palm Beach

Max Scherzer is on the mound tonight for the Nationals, so all is right with the world. At least, as right as is possible these days. The ace right-hander, who sprained his left ankle about two weeks before pitchers and catchers reported to West Palm Beach, Fla., has overcome the injury and built his arm back up to be able to pitch tonight against the

Robles walking, Zimmerman homering, Scherzer starts tonight

The highlight of the Nationals’ 8-4 loss to the Mets on Thursday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., was the Grapefruit League debuts of first-round picks Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge. But there were other notable developments to come out of the game, so let’s run through some of those this morning ... * Victor Robles is getting on base out of the leadoff spot without

Cavalli, Rutledge overcome nerves in spring debuts

There were nerves, for sure. This was, after all, the first time Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge had pitched in a big league spring training game. Not to mention the first time either of the Nationals’ top two pitching prospects had faced hitters from another organization in a year. So it perhaps wasn’t surprising when Cavalli opened the bottom of the second today in Port

Rainey building arm back up after “minor muscle strain”

None of the Nationals’ projected late-inning relievers have made their spring debuts yet. Mostly, that’s by design as the club slowly builds them up during the first two weeks of camp. One of them, however, has been held back not by design but by injury. Tanner Rainey, the most promising young arm in the Nats’ relief corps, has been dealing with what manager Davey Martinez

Lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie

There are some notable names making the 45-minute trip from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Port St. Lucie today for the Nationals’ exhibition game against the Mets. Ryan Zimmerman, Kyle Schwarber and Carter Kieboom are all in the lineup. So is Yan Gomes, making his spring debut behind the plate. And so is Victor Robles, whose left arm appears to be fine one day after

Schwarber’s swing fix got a head start, thanks to Long’s visit

Kyle Schwarber had only been a National for a handful of days. It was mid-January, and the former Cubs left fielder was just starting to chat with his new hitting coach, Kevin Long. The two talked about Schwarber’s struggles last season and the state of his swing, and Long mentioned that he could come visit him at his offseason home in Tampa and work one-on-one

In first test of new lineup, Nats get homers from two new sluggers

For the first time this spring, manager Davey Martinez wrote out a lineup card featuring his six best players in the order he appears to prefer. And for the first time, the Nationals’ two biggest offensive additions of the winter showed off the power that could make this such a potent and deep lineup. That Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber’s home runs were each solo

Report: Nationals eyeing Cuban Vaquero on international front

When the new international signing period begins, likely in January, the Nationals are expected to make a big splash to sign one of the top outfielders in the class. Baseball America reports the Nationals are expected to use most of their pool money on Cuban outfielder Cristian Vaquero, a 16-year-old left-handed hitter. “Vaquero is a dynamic center fielder with plus speed, a strong arm and

Lester leaves camp to have thyroid removal surgery

Jon Lester is leaving Nationals camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., today and will travel to New York in order to have surgery to remove his thyroid gland, manager Davey Martinez revealed this morning. Lester, the 37-year-old veteran left-hander signed over the winter following long and memorable stints with the Red Sox and Cubs, is expected to return to the club in about a week

Lineups: Nats vs. Marlins in West Palm Beach

Juan Soto, as promised, is making his spring debut today in West Palm Beach, Fla. And Soto, as speculated for a while around here, is going to be batting second as part of a potentially newfangled top of the Nationals lineup. Manager Davey Martinez is trotting out 1-2-3 of Victor Robles, Soto and Trea Turner, a combination that seemed possible for a while but had

Long explains contract issue that briefly left him unemployed

Kevin Long was unemployed for about two weeks last fall, two weeks that confused a lot of Nationals fans and observers, given the hitting coach’s strong reputation in the sport and success during three seasons in Washington. Was Long really let go by the organization just as pitching coach Paul Menhart and third base coach Chip Hale were around the same time? And if so,

Scherzer, Soto ready; Kieboom had LASIK; no fans in D.C. yet

Max Scherzer and Juan Soto appear to be good to go after suffering minor injuries and are expected to make their spring training game debuts in the next few days. Scherzer, who sprained his left ankle two weeks before camp opened, threw to live hitters Monday for the first time this spring. He is scheduled to throw a light bullpen session Wednesday, and barring any

Voth sees improvement in one-inning debut

There wasn’t much for Austin Voth to hang his hat on in 2020, and he’d be the first to admit it. The right-hander endured through a pretty miserable summer, which at one point included an 0-5 record and an 8.26 ERA. But sometimes all it takes is one positive moment to lift a downtrodden athlete’s spirit. Like that one gorgeous drive a hack golfer hits

Zimmerman homers, feels good in first game in a year

Three hundred fifty-six days had passed since Ryan Zimmerman last took the field for an organized game of baseball. The world was a lot different back on March 10, 2020, when the Nationals faced the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. Though the coronavirus was in the news, nobody imagined it would have the power to shut down the entire country two days later. So much has

Soto’s spring debut delayed by foul ball off the foot

Juan Soto was all set to make his 2021 spring debut today in the Nationals’ home opener in West Palm Beach, Fla. Then an errant foul ball foiled those plans and delayed the slugger’s debut for at least a couple of days. Soto fouled a ball off his right foot during a live batting practice session Sunday, manager Davey Martinez said. Though the Nationals aren’t

Lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach

The Nationals play their first home game of the spring this afternoon, and there’s good news and bad news. The good news: Ryan Zimmerman is in the lineup for the first time in nearly a year. The bad news: Juan Soto, who was supposed to be in the lineup, is not. Soto fouled a ball off his right foot during a live batting practice session

In spring debut, Fedde rides 28-pitch roller coaster

The last thing Erick Fedde wanted to do in his first inning of the spring Sunday was get into a bases-loaded jam before recording an out, then watch as Nolan Arenado strode to the plate and received a standing ovation for his first at-bat with the Cardinals. And when he promptly spiked a sinker in the dirt to bring home a run, Fedde’s 2021 debut

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