Strasburg gets Nats' Opening Day nod

Strasburg gets Nats' Opening Day nod

Stephen Strasburg will start Opening Day for the Nationals, manager Dusty Baker announced Sunday.

Washington opens its season at 1:05 p.m. ET on April 3 against the Marlins at Nationals Park.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Murphy, Roark contribute in first game back

Murphy, Roark contribute in first game back

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Both Tanner Roark and Daniel Murphy had encouraging returns to Grapefruit League action in Saturday's 4-1 victory over the Astros. Their performances Saturday might have helped ease some of the Nationals' concerns about their lack of playing time in the World Baseball Classic, as the team tries to get them ready for the beginning of the season.

Roark gave up one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings, and his pitches stayed sharp as he threw a spring-high 73 pitches. He made the start technically on short rest after he pitched Tuesday in the World Baseball Classic, but the Nationals are trying to line up their rotation for Opening Day, and Roark appears to be tentatively slotted to pitch the second game against the Marlins.

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

Zimmerman dances around home plate to avoid tag

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Zimmerman dances around home plate to avoid tag

Ryan Zimmerman is what we would call a veteran. The 2017 season will be his 13th in the Majors, and he'll turn 33 years old in September. It's been a bit since he finished second in the 2006 Rookie of the Year voting, in other words. But in the fourth inning of the Nationals' Spring Training matchup with the Astros on Saturday, Zimmerman showed he can still move as if he were 10 years younger.

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Roark, bullpen keep Astros' bats in check

Roark, bullpen keep Astros' bats in check

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Tanner Roark, making his first start since returning from the World Baseball Classic, held the Astros to one run and three hits and struck out five batters in 5 1/3 innings to lead the Nationals to a 4-1 win Saturday afternoon at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The Nationals built a 4-0 lead on the strength of a Jayson Werth sacrifice fly in the third inning and a three-run fourth, which included a two-run double by Daniel Murphy on the last pitch thrown by Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. Murphy went 2-for-4 in what was also his first Grapefruit League start since returning from the Classic.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baker decides on closer, remains secret for now

Candidates are Kelley, Treinen, Glover

Baker decides on closer, remains secret for now

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals have decided on a closer, according to manager Dusty Baker, but they are not ready to reveal who it is just yet.

"We've kind of settled on a guy, but we've got to tell the guy first," Baker said prior to Saturday's game against the Astros.

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

Nats send four to Triple-A, reassign Burriss

Catching prospect Severino among those optioned

Nats send four to Triple-A, reassign Burriss

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals made their latest round of roster cuts after Saturday's 4-1 victory against the Astros, trimming the roster by five additional players.

Catcher Pedro Severino, right-hander Rafael Martin, left-hander Matt Grace and outfielder Brian Goodwin have been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse while infielder Emmanuel Burriss has been reassigned to Minor League camp. Severino is ranked No. 10 among the Nationals' Top 30 Prospects by MLBPipeline.com and Goodwin is ranked No. 26.

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

Guthrie turns in finest audition for 'pen yet

Veteran righty, vying for long-reliever role, deals 4 1/3 hitless innings Friday

Guthrie turns in finest audition for 'pen yet

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. -- Jeremy Guthrie had his finest audition for a spot in the Nationals' bullpen as a long reliever in the Nationals' 3-1 loss to the Cardinals on Friday afternoon. He held St. Louis hitless for 4 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and two walks.

Guthrie is one of the pitchers the Nationals are considering for their long reliever in the bullpen, and even though there are fewer than two weeks until Opening Day, a performance such as Friday's can still impress manager Dusty Baker.

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

Murphy, Roark return, rave about Classic run

Nats' linchpins turn focus to getting necessary work in ahead of regular season

Murphy, Roark return, rave about Classic run

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. -- Both Tanner Roark and Daniel Murphy have played in the postseason, and they both said the atmosphere in the World Baseball Classic matched that intensity. Roark and Murphy both returned to Nationals camp Friday morning fresh off Team USA's championship run in the Classic and raved about their experiences.

They both pointed specifically to their matchup against the Dominican Republic in Miami, which will go down as one of the best games in the history of the Classic, as one of the experiences they enjoyed the most.

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

Guthrie has great start, but Cards get to Glover

Guthrie has great start, but Cards get to Glover

 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals still have not decided on an Opening Day closer, but they have been giving Koda Glover serious consideration. They wanted to be sure he faced strong competition in the spring, so manager Dusty Baker ran the right-hander out in the top of sixth inning Friday afternoon against the Cardinals. But St. Louis hit Glover hard, and aided by a few defensive mishaps, defeated the Nationals' split-squad, 3-1, at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Dexter Fowler tripled home a run and scored on a sacrifice fly from Jhonny Peralta in the sixth inning, and Greg Garcia singled home a run off Glover in the seventh. Glover allowed a spring-high three runs in 1 2/3 innings with only one strikeout.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Robinson goes 2-for-3 in nightcap loss to Fish

JUPITER, Fla. -- Ichiro Suzuki had an RBI single and two hits on Friday night and right-hander Jose Urena threw four shutout innings in the Marlins' 3-0 win over the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.

Urena, who is competing for Miami's fifth starter spot, struck out five without issuing a walk. The Marlins opened the scoring on Ichiro's two-out, RBI single off Nats starter Jacob Turner.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats discuss love of game at Play Ball event

Nats discuss love of game at Play Ball event

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- The chatter was boisterous, as one might expect of a group of 60-plus kids ages 8-13 gathered at a park on a Spring Break day. But then a somewhat imposing man in a genuine Major League Baseball uniform walked onto the field to address them.

Suddenly, someone had the kids' attention. Mostly silence ensued.

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Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats send impressive Fedde to Minors camp

Nathan decision still forthcoming; Strasburg, Ross throw Minors games

Nats send impressive Fedde to Minors camp

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. -- A day after he put together his most impressive outing of the spring, the Nationals reassigned right-hander Erick Fedde to Minor League camp Friday morning.

Fedde, the Nats' No. 2 prospect as rated by MLBPipeline.com, tossed five shutout innings in Thursday's 1-0 victory while holding a lineup made of most of the Mets' projected starters to just two hits. Manager Dusty Baker raved about Fedde after the game and said he was close to being Major League ready and called him "at the very top of the list" as far as potential starting pitching candidates.

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

Raines: HOF call surpassed winning WS title

Legendary outfielder talks induction speech plans, Turner's toolbox

Raines: HOF call surpassed winning WS title

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. -- Tim Raines has started practicing his Hall of Fame speech even though he hasn't written anything down and probably won't. He's never been one to read off a page, but perhaps he'll write down a few names. That will be enough to jog his memory.

But sometimes after he returns home from Blue Jays camp during Spring Training, he will stand in front of his mirror and start talking.

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

Fedde, Nats best Gsellman in prospect duel

Fedde, Nats best Gsellman in prospect duel

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A pair of top pitching prospects turned in impressive performances during a 1-0 Nationals victory over the Mets on a rain-soaked afternoon at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Thursday.

Both right-handers, Erick Fedde of the Nationals and Robert Gsellman of the Mets, were unaffected through the sloppy conditions Thursday that caused a 42-minute rain delay at the beginning of the game.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Mets on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taylor returns to camp after father's death

Taylor returns to camp after father's death

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. -- Michael Taylor returned to Nationals camp on Thursday afternoon after missing the past few days following the death of his father, Anthony.

Anthony Taylor was a logistics officer for 22 years in the U.S. Army. He would travel from the Taylors' home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to regularly attend Nationals games during Spring Training and anytime the team would play in Miami during the regular season.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

With Max back in action, Nats even mightier

With Max back in action, Nats even mightier

JUPITER, Fla. -- OK, that's one less item on manager Dusty Baker's worry list, and another brick in the wall for the Nationals.

"Pitchers pitch. Bridge-builders build," Max Scherzer said. "I want to be out there on the mound competing."

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer: Injury 'behind me now'

Nationals ace threw fastball with normal grip in spring debut following stress fracture in right ring finger

Scherzer: Injury 'behind me now'

JUPITER, Fla. -- After weeks of uncertainty marked by the possibility of a stint on the disabled list, an experiment with a three-finger fastball grip and slow signs of progress, Max Scherzer finally took the mound for his Grapefruit League debut in the National's 6-1 loss to the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon.

Scherzer felt no ill effects from the stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger that had hampered his progress all winter and lingered into the start of Spring Training. An MRI has shown the bone and ligaments are good. It no longer pains him to throw. It was somewhat of a freak injury, so he is not worried about it reccurring.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals 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 tosses 4 2/3 in spring debut

Scherzer tosses 4 2/3 in spring debut

JUPITER, Fla. -- Max Scherzer finished 4 2/3 innings in his Grapefruit League debut, but Cardinals infielder Greg Garcia stole the spotlight to help St. Louis to a 6-1 victory over Washington at Roger Dean Stadium on Wednesday.

Garcia, who legged out an inside-the-park home run in the team's last game, tallied three more extra-base hits, including a pair off Scherzer. His first-inning triple positioned him to score on a Matt Carpenter sacrifice fly, and he drove in a run with an RBI double in the fifth.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

All Roark, plenty of bite in USA win vs. Japan

All Roark, plenty of bite in USA win vs. Japan

LOS ANGELES -- Tanner Roark got Team USA off to a strong start against Japan on Tuesday in the World Baseball Classic semifinals.

The U.S. called upon Roark for the elimination game, which he called the most important start of his career, and the Nationals right-hander delivered, holding the Japanese squad scoreless through four innings in a 2-1 win at Dodger Stadium. Pitching amid a persistent mist and occasional light rain, he made 48 pitches (30 strikes) and allowed just four batters to reach on two hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zimmerman stays hot in support of solid Gio

Zimmerman stays hot in support of solid Gio

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In the only matchup of the spring between the two National League East rivals, the Nationals defeated the Braves, 3-1, Tuesday afternoon at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Ryan Zimmerman and Emmanuel Burriss led the way with two hits and a run apiece.

Washington scored twice in the seventh off right-hander Chaz Roe, with Pedro Severino hitting an RBI double before coming around to score on a single from Clint Robinson.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Braves on Tuesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Roark's quick reflexes help USA to WBC '17 final

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Roark's quick reflexes help USA to WBC '17 final

Team USA advanced to the World Baseball Classic final against Puerto Rico (9 p.m. ET Wednesday on MLB Network and MLB.TV) with a 2-1 victory over Japan on Tuesday night, thanks in no small part to Tanner Roark. Roark started the game (his second appearance of the tournament) and stymied the previously undefeated Japanese team with his pitching repertoire and very, very quick reflexes.

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Gio buckles down early en route to strong start

Gio buckles down early en route to strong start

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- One of the biggest issues for Gio Gonzalez during his rough 2016 season was his trouble once runners got on base -- and especially once they reached scoring position. The left-hander gave up a .706 OPS to opposing hitters with the bases empty, but that rose to .764 with men on base and leaped to .913 with runners in scoring position. Once he got into trouble, he was usually unable to get out of it.

So the first inning of the Nationals' 3-1 victory over the Braves on Tuesday was an encouraging sign for Gonzalez, who walked the leadoff man, hit a batter and gave up single over the shortstop's head to load the bases with just one out. But he escaped without allowing a run by forcing Jace Peterson to pop out and Chase d'Arnaud to ground out to third.

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

Worley hopes versatility pays off in roster spot

Worley hopes versatility pays off in roster spot

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals have some crucial decisions to make to fill out the final spots in their bullpen as Spring Training winds down during the next two weeks, including whether they will keep a long reliever in the bullpen. They received a look at a few of their potential options in Monday afternoon's 9-3 loss to the Yankees.

Right-hander Vance Worley struggled a bit with his command in his first Grapefruit League start before eventually settling in. He allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks in 3 1/3 innings. Jeremy Guthrie struck out two in two innings but allowed a two-run home run to Matt Holliday. They are perhaps the two leading candidates to fill the long-reliever role, one manager Dusty Baker values and has spoken highly of all spring -- even if a clear favorite has not emerged.

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

Nathan's strong spring creating tough decisions

Nathan's strong spring creating tough decisions

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals have a decision to make soon with veteran right-hander Joe Nathan as they approach the date of the opt-out clause in his contract, which is reportedly Friday.

Manager Dusty Baker has been highly impressed with Nathan, who tossed a scoreless inning with a strikeout in Monday's 9-3 loss to the Yankees to lower his Grapefruit League ERA to 3.00. But it is unclear whether that will be enough for Nathan to crack what has become a crowded Nationals bullpen scene.

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

Lind plates pair, but 'pen struggles vs. Yanks

Lind plates pair, but 'pen struggles vs. Yanks

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals sold out the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for the first time in its short history, as 7,675 fans were in attendance for Monday afternoon's matchup with the Yankees. Brett Gardner drove in a pair with a two-run single in the second and Matt Holliday launched a two-run home run as New York came away with a 9-3 victory.

The home run was the third of the spring for Holliday, who's hitting .306. Both starting pitchers -- Michael Pineda and Vance Worley -- struggled with their command in the second inning.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats, Zim encouraged by recent hot stretch

Nats, Zim encouraged by recent hot stretch

JUPITER, Fla. -- Even as Ryan Zimmerman got off to a slow start during Grapefruit League play, Nationals manager Dusty Baker had no concerns. As long as Zimmerman was healthy, Baker said, he would wait to judge Zimmerman until it became later in the spring.

So it was encouraging for Zimmerman to put together a strong afternoon in Sunday's 10-4 victory against the Marlins. He went 3-for-3 with a walk, lined a double into center field and hammered an opposite-field two-run homer in the sixth. After starting Spring Training hitless in his first 17 at-bats, he is now 7-for-10 in his last three games.

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

Zimmerman busts out to pace Nats vs. Marlins

Zimmerman busts out to pace Nats vs. Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. -- After a rocky first inning, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg settled into a comfortable groove, retiring 11 of the last 12 he faced on Sunday afternoon. Ryan Zimmerman belted a two-run homer, and had three hits and a walk as Washington defeated the Marlins, 10-4, at Roger Dean Stadium.

Marlins left-hander Adam Conley had his pitch count run up to 37 in the first inning, and lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs, with four earned. Strasburg worked 4 1/3 innings, giving up two runs. Strasburg and Conley each finished with 79 pitches, 46 for strikes.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.