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.

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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."

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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.

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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

Entire Nationals roster reports to camp; full workout to be held Thursday

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Nats exercise Williams' club option for 2016

National League Manager of the Year locked down for next two seasons

Nats exercise Williams' club option for 2016

VIERA, Fla. -- Prior to the first workout for Nationals pitchers and catchers Saturday, the team announced it has exercised the 2016 club option on manager Matt Williams.

"I'm honored to have that done," Williams said. "The organization is fantastic, they've supported all of us since the day I arrived here and they continue to do so."

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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.

Aces in spotlight for battery's first workouts

Nationals fans wowed by rotation as players get excited for season

Aces in spotlight for battery's first workouts

VIERA, Fla. -- Wilson Ramos brought out his brand new catcher's mitt for the first bullpen sessions of Spring Training on Saturday. And by the middle of his first session, Ramos realized he had made a mistake, trying to catch Max Scherzer for the first time with a glove that was barely broken in.

"Everything's moving -- a lot," Ramos said with a laugh.

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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.

Rizzo confident in his club heading into 2015

Nats' GM talks about exepectations, Williams' contract extention, team's pending free agents

Rizzo confident in his club heading into 2015

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals enter Spring Training with arguably the best team on paper. In 2013, the team had the slogan, "World Series or bust" and didn't make the playoffs.

Does that slogan hold true for the 2015 Nationals? Not quite. "We have high expectations, we think we have a good team and we are going to attack the regular season and then if we are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, we'll give it our best shot to get to the World Series. That's a goal for [all] 30 clubs," general manager Mike Rizzo said

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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.

Rotation shakeup won't change Roark's preparation

Fifteen-game winner will remain on starter track despite Scherzer acquisition

Rotation shakeup won't change Roark's preparation

VIERA, Fla. -- Tanner Roark was the presumed odd man out of the Nationals' starting rotation once the team acquired Max Scherzer during the offseason.

Roark's role with the team in 2015 is unclear, but for now at least, the Nats have told him to continue to prepare as a starter, and he will be one of the team's starting pitchers this spring.

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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.

Zimmermann focused on 2015, not contract status

Righty open to long-term deal this spring; doesn't want to negotiate during season

Zimmermann focused on 2015, not contract status

VIERA, FL. -- It is almost impossible for a player to completely ignore trade rumors nowadays. Even though Jordan Zimmermann tried to escape to his home in Wisconsin to relax and focus on hunting and fishing this offseason, he was given constant reminders. If he turned on a TV, there it was. People would text him or walk up to him in public, wondering if he was going to Boston or Chicago or wherever.

It was not until Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo reached out to Zimmermann in November that the right-hander finally began to feel comfortable that he was not going anywhere, at least for now.

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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.

After rebound year in Minors, Burriss out to impact Nats

Infielder, who broke into Majors in 2008, looking to earn spot on big club's bench

After rebound year in Minors, Burriss out to impact Nats

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals are looking for impact bench players, and veteran infielder Emmanuel Burriss is hoping to make the team in that role.

Burriss, who can play shortstop and second base, is coming off one of his best seasons in professional baseball, hitting .300 with 80 runs scored, 22 stolen bases and a .377 on-base percentage in 116 games for Triple-A Syracuse. It helped that Burriss was healthy, free of hamstring problems that plagued him in 2013 when he was in the Reds' organization.

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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.

Switch-hitting Espinosa to focus on right-handed swing

Switch-hitting Espinosa to focus on right-handed swing

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals position players had their first practice on Saturday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium.

Of the players on the field, Danny Espinosa was closely watched. During batting practice, Espinosa was hitting right-handed exclusively against manager Matt Williams, who throws right-handed.

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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 arrives, says goal is to get better

Righty signed seven-year, $210 million contract with the Nationals in January

Scherzer arrives, says goal is to get better

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Max Scherzer entered the Nationals' clubhouse on Friday morning and was just trying to fit in. On Friday, he called clubhouse and equipment manager Mike Wallace his best friend. The man who is lovingly known as Wally showed Scherzer how to get around Space Coast Stadium.

Where do you park? Where's the clubhouse? Where's the trainer's room? Wallace had all the answers for Scherzer.

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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.

Which Nats ace will get the call on Opening Day?

Strasburg has received the nod the past three years, but club has options

Which Nats ace will get the call on Opening Day?

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Matt Williams is going to have a bit of a quandary on his hands to start the season.

Washington has built a starting rotation that was already being deemed historic before anyone arrived for Spring Training. And with a plethora of aces at his disposal, Williams will have to decide who will take the ball on Opening Day.

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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.

Storen, McCatty to miss Clippard's presence

Closer, coach are friends with right-hander, who was traded to the A's

Storen, McCatty to miss Clippard's presence

VIERA, Fla. -- For Nationals closer Drew Storen and pitching coach Steve McCatty, it seems weird that right-hander Tyler Clippard is no longer on the team. Clippard was more than just a productive late-inning reliever the last six years. He was a great friend to both Storen and McCatty.

The Nationals needed an everyday second baseman, so they traded Clippard to the Athletics for Yunel Escobar last month. Storen and Clippard were roommates during the season from 2010-12, and they sometimes traveled together during the offseason.

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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.

Pitchers, catchers report to Nats camp, get right to work

Fister excited to reunite with Scherzer as part of impressive rotation

Pitchers, catchers report to Nats camp, get right to work

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals pitchers and catchers reported to Space Coast Stadium on Thursday morning ready to work. There was right-hander Stephen Strasburg throwing on flat ground. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez was working out in the weight room. Doug Fister, the team's wins leader last season, also made an appearance.

"We have a lot of work to do, but I'm with a great group of guys. That's first and foremost," Fister said.

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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.

Fister's focus on Nationals, not pending free agency

Righty declines to speak about his future

Fister's focus on Nationals, not pending free agency

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Doug Fister is entering his second year with the Nationals, and it sounds like he can't wait for the season to get started. It helps that Fister will be reunited with good friend Max Scherzer, who signed a seven-year, $210 million contract last month.

The right-handers had been teammates for two-plus seasons with the Tigers and helped Detroit reach the World Series in 2012.

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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.