Nationals look to increase use of defensive shifts

Williams says input from pitcher will continue to influence fielders' alignment

Nationals look to increase use of defensive shifts

VIERA, Fla. -- Matt Williams estimated that the Nationals ranked near the bottom of the National League last season in the number of times they shifted defensive alignments, and he said Saturday he expected that number to increase in 2015.

How much that number increases is unclear. The Nationals are unlikely to start shifting drastically, largely because of the team's dynamic starting pitching that will continue to guide many of Williams' decisions.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg talks winning formula, 2015 goals in Q&A

Strasburg talks winning formula, 2015 goals in Q&A

VIERA, Fla. -- Last year was the first time Stephen Strasburg didn't have to worry about injuries or an innings limit. He took advantage of the situation, winning 14 games and tying for the National League lead with 242 strikeouts in 215 innings.

MLB.com caught up with Strasburg to talk about his career with the Nationals and the team's chances in the postseason.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Williams says lefty Hill will compete for bullpen spot

Williams says lefty Hill will compete for bullpen spot

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Matt Williams said the team signed left-hander Rich Hill because of the experience Hill's 10 years in the Majors could potentially add.

"Veteran, been there, got big league experience," Williams said. "We'll get him in camp, get a good look at him, and let him compete."

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rain shortens 'light day' of workouts at Nats camp

Rain shortens 'light day' of workouts at Nats camp

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals had their workout cut short Saturday, a result of light showers in the morning and rain the previous night. The rain was expected to continue throughout the day, so rather than begin practicing on the soft infield dirt, the team reduced the full workout before it began.

The pitchers played catch in the right-field grass at Space Coast Stadium while position players did some light work in the batting cages, and everyone began to clear out of the clubhouse by lunchtime.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Out of options, Moore looks to secure roster spot

First baseman/outfielder keeps positive outlook in face of uncertain future

Out of options, Moore looks to secure roster spot

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore is out of Minor League options, so this spring could be his last chance to show the team that he belongs on the Major League roster as a bench player.

If Moore doesn't make the team out of Spring Training, the Nationals could designate him for assignment, which means they would have 10 days to trade Moore, outright him to the Minor Leagues or release him.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmerman, Escobar practice at first, second base

Espinosa gets extra work batting from right side

Zimmerman, Escobar practice at first, second base

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals had their second day of full-squad workouts Friday. Second baseman Yunel Escobar and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman stood out above the rest. They were working hard at their new positions at the Nationals complex.

The two players then went back to Space Coast Stadium and received extra work from the right side of the infield. They were working on footwork, positioning and being comfortable turning double plays.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats prospect Skole ready to rebound from down year

Infielder struggled at Double-A last season in return from Tommy John surgery

Nats prospect Skole ready to rebound from down year

VIERA, Fla. -- After missing most of the 2013 season because of Tommy John surgery, infielder Matt Skole, ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the Nationals organization, had a tough time at the plate last year.

Skole, 25, said he developed some bad habits at the plate. He kept his hands down too low, and that caused him to be late on the fastball.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Williams sets tone of Nats camp with first team meeting

Williams sets tone of Nats camp with first team meeting

VIERA, Fla. -- At the top of the Nationals' workout schedule each day during Spring Training, manager Matt Williams leaves a quote of the day for his club.

"The road to the World Series begins today," it read on a cloudy Thursday morning, before the team's first full-squad workout.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Werth confident he will be ready for Opening Day

Outfielder had surgery on his right shoulder on Jan. 9

Werth confident he will be ready for Opening Day

VIERA, Fla. -- Jayson Werth served as a spectator for most of the Nationals' first full-squad workout of the season Thursday. His participation was limited as he continues to rehab his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Werth participated in a few outfield activities although was not able to join his teammates for fielding drills or batting practice. But he remained optimistic about his chances to be in the Nationals' lineup for Opening Day on April 6 against the Mets..

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer reportedly adding cutter to arsenal

MLB Network crew breaks down new pitch for Nationals right-hander

Scherzer reportedly adding cutter to arsenal

The newest member of the Nationals' star-studded rotation doesn't seem to be resting on his past success, not even after signing a $210 million contract this offseason.

Right-hander Max Scherzer is adding a cutter to his existing four-pitch repertoire, The New York Times reported on Thursday, and former Major League pitchers Al Leiter and Ron Darling discussed the news during a Diamond Demo segment on MLB Network.

More

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar making quick transition to second base

Escobar making quick transition to second base

VIERA, Fla. -- Yunel Escobar admitted that he initially had some reservations about switching positions from shortstop to second base.

But by the time he took the field on Thursday, for the Nationals' first full-squad workout, Escobar's concerns appeared to be gone.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals bringing lefty Hill to spring camp

Nationals bringing lefty Hill to spring camp

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have signed veteran left-hander Rich Hill to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to join the team in Spring Training, the team announced Friday night from its Twitter account.

Hill began the 2014 season with the Angels, but was released after two relief appearances without retiring a batter. He signed with the Yankees in July and posted a 1.69 ERA in 14 appearances. His career ERA is 4.72.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper confident in Nats' World Series chances

Outfielder reports to camp gushing over Washington's starting rotation

Harper confident in Nats' World Series chances

VIERA, Fla. -- Outfielder Bryce Harper badly wants to help the Nationals win a World Series title. In fact, Harper sounded pretty confident Wednesday afternoon that the Nationals could go all the way this year. It helps that the team signed right-hander Max Scherzer to a long-term deal.

Harper, 22, even joked that the Nationals have such a solid staff that he doesn't have to worry about playing defense.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Striving to improve, Rendon ready to man third

Infielder has learned a lot from Zimmerman, who is sliding over to first

Striving to improve, Rendon ready to man third

VIERA, Fla. -- Anthony Rendon finds it amazing that he is replacing Ryan Zimmerman at third base, because while growing up in Houston, Rendon admired Zimmerman from afar. Zimmerman, who is the face of the Nationals, is moving across the diamond, replacing Adam LaRoche at first base.

"I don't think I'm replacing anybody," Rendon said. "I'm just helping the team. ... He is going to be a great first baseman. It will be exciting to watch him play."

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer all about getting ahead with first-pitch strikes

Scherzer all about getting ahead with first-pitch strikes

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer has accomplished quite a bit since he entered the league in 2008. He won the American League Cy Young Award in 2013, led the AL in victories the last two years and has struck out 200 or more batters in a season three consecutive years.

With that in mind, MLB.com asked Scherzer the important stats he looks at after he pitches in a game. The first thing he looks at is first-pitch strikes and, second, after three pitches, where he is when he faces a particular hitter. He hopes to be ahead in the count (1-2) or to have already recorded the out.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Werth to start Spring Training in rehab mode

Werth to start Spring Training in rehab mode

VIERA, Fla. -- The entire Nationals roster reported to camp Wednesday, according to manager Matt Williams. The team will have a full workout Thursday.

However, Williams announced that left fielder Jayson Werth (shoulder) would be in rehab mode to start Spring Training, outfielder Nate McLouth (shoulder) is taking part in a throwing program and center fielder Denard Span (hernia surgery) is at full strength.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Carp hoping to bring pop to Nationals' bench

Carp hoping to bring pop to Nationals' bench

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals are looking to have a productive bench this year. In 2014, Nationals pinch-hitters had a .144 batting average. That could improve if first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp makes the team.

Carp has proven to be a valuable left-handed hitter off the bench, something the Nationals didn't have last year. In 2013, Carp came off the bench and helped the Red Sox win the World Series title over the Cardinals. Against right-handed pitching that year, Carp was a .300 hitter with a .367 on-base percentage.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Pleskoff: Nationals prospects on the cusp

Pleskoff: Nationals prospects on the cusp

In this series, Bernie Pleskoff takes a team-by-team look at which top prospects are poised to make a contribution at the big league level in 2015.

The Nationals have depth throughout their roster and in their farm system. Should a pitcher or position player be needed this year, the team can pick from a number of qualified replacements. They are among the deepest organizations in baseball.

More

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmerman taking transition in stride, eager to learn first base

Former hot corner standout praises Rendon, who's taken over third for Nationals

Zimmerman taking transition in stride, eager to learn first base

VIERA, Fla. -- Maybe Ryan Zimmerman said it best Monday. He is starting a new chapter in his baseball career. His days as a third baseman are over. Zimmerman will now be the Nationals' everyday first baseman, replacing the departed Adam LaRoche.

Zimmerman arrived in camp Monday and didn't waste any time working on his skills at first base. Under the tutelage of manager Matt Williams and the coaching staff, Zimmerman plans to learn the nuances of playing the position. Zimmerman also plans to be just as good as he was at third.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Williams may employ multiple relievers in setup role

Janssen among candidates to fill Clippard's spot

Williams may employ multiple relievers in setup role

VIERA, Fla. -- One of the few question marks for the Nationals at the start of Spring Training is how the team expects to fill the void created by trading setup man Tyler Clippard to the A's.

The eighth inning used to belong solely to Clippard, but Nationals manager Matt Williams said Tuesday that he might rely on using more matchups with his relievers to get through the eighth.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Davis has first bullpen session since Tommy John surgery

Nats righty calls it 'major milestone,' hopes to return to Majors by September

Davis has first bullpen session since Tommy John surgery

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Erik Davis missed the 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery. Like teammates Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, who had the same procedure, Davis worked hard to get back on the mound and it paid off Tuesday.

Davis, 28, had a bullpen session and threw 25 pitches -- all fastballs. He will throw three bullpen sessions a week for the next four weeks. Davis will then throw batting practices for a few weeks and start facing hitters soon after camp breaks.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Desmond plans to 'enjoy every single day' with Nationals

Shortstop enters final year of contract confident he has regained consistency in swing

Desmond plans to 'enjoy every single day' with Nationals

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond arrived in camp Monday in a great mood. He said hello to most of his teammates and even gave a big hug to a member of the media.

Nothing is going to foul up Desmond's mood this season. Desmond is a free agent after this season and vows there will be no distractions as far as contract talks are concerned.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCatty preaching excellence one pitch at a time

Nationals pitching coach recognizes, but downplays, expectations of rotation

McCatty preaching excellence one pitch at a time

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty hears it all the time. He is often told how great his pitching staff is going to be this season. After leading the Major Leagues with a 3.03 ERA last season, the Nationals fortified their rotation by adding right-hander Max Scherzer last month.

It all looks good on paper, but as McCatty points out, the Nationals have to play the games in order to get great results.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals to give Grace shot at sliding into bullpen

Left-hander successful at inducing ground balls

Nationals to give Grace shot at sliding into bullpen

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Matt Grace had a bullpen session on Monday that impressed pitching coach Steve McCatty. Grace threw sliders that could fool hitters. The pitch looked like it was going straight, but then dropped down on the outside part of the plate.

The slider is a pitch Grace perfected while at the Arizona Fall League this winter.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Coming off career year, catalyst Span seeks more

Healthy after hernia surgery, leadoff man looks to top 31 steals, won't let contract status distract

Coming off career year, catalyst Span seeks more

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Denard Span arrived in camp Sunday and announced that he has fully recovered from December hernia surgery. However, Span indicated that he would take it slow early in the exhibition season.

Span suffered the injury toward the end of last season, but it wasn't enough to miss any games, including the National League Division Series against the Giants. After the postseason ended, Span thought rest would help ease the pain. It didn't go away, however, after he started training for the 2015 season.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

At Nationals camp, Uggla sees chance to resurrect career

After back-to-back subpar seasons, slugger discovers, treats eye-tracking problem

At Nationals camp, Uggla sees chance to resurrect career

VIERA, Fla. -- Not too long ago, Dan Uggla was perhaps the best second baseman in the National League, a perennial All-Star who slugged at least 27 home runs in each of the first six years of his career. When the Braves traded for him in 2010, they promptly signed him to a five-year, $62 million extension.

Then suddenly he stopped producing.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Promising prospect Severino soaking up spring lessons

Promising prospect Severino soaking up spring lessons

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals catcher Pedro Severino was invited to big league Spring Training for the first time this year, and it looks like he feels right at home. The organization's 11th-best prospect, according to MLB.com, Severino is expected to start the season with Double-A Harrisburg.

While he is with the big club, Severino, 21, expects to learn his craft from veteran catchers such as Wilson Ramos, Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon.

More

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Motivated McLouth taking it slow after shoulder surgery

Motivated McLouth taking it slow after shoulder surgery

VIERA, FL. -- The Nationals plan on allowing outfielder Nate McLouth to progress slowly this spring as he recovers from right shoulder surgery.

McLouth says he feels near 100 percent, but to get over the hump, he will have to see how the shoulder reacts as he increases the pressure on it.

More

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.