Harper leads Nats into spring opener

Harper leads Nats into spring opener

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals will open their Grapefruit League schedule Saturday afternoon against the Mets with a potential preview of the top half of their Opening Day lineup.

Trea Turner will lead off while Adam Eaton bats second, in front of Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper. Whether Eaton or Turner would lead off has been a topic of discussion since the Nats first acquired Eaton, since both players fit the profile of a typical leadoff hitter. Dusty Baker estimates he has thought out his lineup "100 times" in his head, but has not settled on anything just yet.

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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.

Wieters arrives, says Nats 'a good fit for me'

Wieters arrives, says Nats 'a good fit for me'

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Wieters always considered the Nationals as a good fit for him.

It was the National League team he knew best and he would be able to remain close to Baltimore, a city where he had grown comfortable. Even though one of the Nats' first moves this offseason was to trade for catcher Derek Norris, Wieters still thought of Washington as one of his potential landing spots.

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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

Anthony Castrovince

Nats, Astros share new park, same expectations

Nats, Astros share new park, same expectations

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- They have everything. But do they have enough?

The question pervades the state-of-the-art scene where the Astros and Nationals -- two win-now teams with new facilities but one obvious source of roster uncertainty apiece -- get ready for 2017.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Robles brings smiles, speed to Nats' camp

Highly touted prospect made good first impression on coaching staff, club

Robles brings smiles, speed to Nats' camp

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals intrasquad game on Thursday also featured the first time many of the Major League coaching staff got a look at outfielder Victor Robles, who was called up to Major League camp for the day to hit third and play center field for one of the teams.

He showed off some of the skills that have made Robles perhaps the fastest-rising prospect in baseball, now the Nationals' top prospect and No. 7 overall as rated by MLBPipeline.com. In his first at-bat, wearing a white No. 91 jersey without his name on it, he beat out a dribbler down the third base line without a throw. Eventually, he was picked off at second base by Tanner Roark -- a sign of a player who is still 19 years old.

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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.

Strasburg's stuff solid in intrasquad game

Scherzer set to throw first bullpen session Saturday

Strasburg's stuff solid in intrasquad game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals held an intrasquad game Thursday afternoon, a chance to get their pitchers facing hitters in game situations ahead of their Spring Training opener Saturday.

It offered yet another strong indicator for Stephen Strasburg's health coming off a torn pronator tendon that ended his 2016 season Sept. 7. If Strasburg was not 100 percent, then he would not have been pitching Thursday.

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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 turning to analytics to improve

Nats' first baseman taking cue from Murphy to boost launch angle

Zimmerman turning to analytics to improve

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy loves talking about hitting. He is constantly studying the craft, watching video and making adjustments. He joked that his teammates think he's crazy. He is a self-professed geek who reads articles on Fangraphs.com and learns what he can from analytics.

During the offseason, Murphy came across articles using Statcast™ data to explain Ryan Zimmerman's rough 2016 season, where he hit a career-worst .218/.272/.370 with a 69 OPS+, despite having an Exit Velocity among the best in the Majors last season. A lot of his struggles can be explained by his low Launch Angle, as outlined previously by MLB.com's Mike Petriello. Murphy, whose swing adjustments led to his breakout '16, believes he can help.

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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.

Nationals finalize agreement with Wieters

Backstop's bat adds depth to Washington's lineup

Nationals finalize agreement with Wieters

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals had been the speculated landing spot for free-agent catcher Matt Wieters this offseason, and the two sides completed a deal on Friday.

The pact, reportedly worth up to $21 million, is for one year plus a player option for 2018. Wieters will be paid $10.5 million in '17 and the same amount if he returns for '18, with $5 million deferred through '21, according to The Washington Post.

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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.

Drew loyal to Nats despite offers to start elsewhere

Drew loyal to Nats despite offers to start elsewhere

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Stephen Drew said he had offers to start with other teams as he spent this offseason as a free agent.

And yet, he decided to sign a one-year deal to return to the Nationals in January because he was comfortable in this situation, even if it meant accepting a role coming off the bench.

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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.

Gio inserts personality, flair into glove design

Gio inserts personality, flair into glove design

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The first time Gio Gonzalez remembered a glove that really stood out to him in the Majors was when Jose Lopez rocked a solid teal glove as a middle infielder with the Mariners. That same style of glove was passed down to Seattle's current second baseman, Robinson Cano.

Gonzalez tries to add his own flair to his glove, and he has partnered with Wilson to create his own custom glove each 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.

Turner goes from jury duty to Nationals camp

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Turner goes from jury duty to Nationals camp

Trea Turner is a native of Lake Worth, Fla., which is only a few miles from Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where the Nationals hold their Spring Training. So, when he was summoned for jury duty on Wednesday, he had no excuse to get out of it.

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

How does signing of Wieters affect Nats?

How does signing of Wieters affect Nats?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- You still see hard hats interspersed with the caps and helmets at the Nationals' new camp, with construction work going on inside and outside the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and the practice fields where the team trains. On Tuesday morning, for instance, workers were drilling into the exterior wall near the clubhouse entrance as they hung a team logo on what had been an empty space, thereby taking care of a finishing touch.

Turns out, the Nats' roster is/was similarly unfinished.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Norris' future with Nationals uncertain

Norris' future with Nationals uncertain

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Before the team workout on Tuesday morning, Nationals manager Dusty Baker pulled Derek Norris aside. Baker wanted to let him know -- before he read it on social media or heard it from somewhere else -- that the Nats were closing in on a deal for free-agent catcher Matt Wieters.

Baker said although Norris was disappointed about the deal, which is still pending a physical, he was appreciative that the team came to him first.

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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.

Breaking down the Nats' Top 30 Prospects

After parting with premium pitchers, Washington's system still flush with hurlers

Breaking down the Nats' Top 30 Prospects

The Nationals spent 179 days atop the National League East last season en route to their third division title in five years. But as was the case in their previous two trips to the postseason, the team failed to advance beyond the NL Division Series, losing to the Dodgers in five games.

Perhaps no player influenced the Nationals' 2016 success more than Trea Turner, who batted a robust .342/.370/.567 with 35 extra-base hits and 33 stolen bases, all while making a smooth transition to center field from shortstop, en route to a runner-up finish in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting. The Nats also received contributions on the mound from 2012 first-rounder Lucas Giolito, the club's top-ranked prospect at the time, and Reynaldo Lopez, albeit with mixed results.

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

Gio enjoying Spring Training close to home

Lefty, who lives an hour from new facility, has sights set on ASG in nearby Miami

Gio enjoying Spring Training close to home

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez didn't need a map to find the team's new Spring Training facility, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The center of trade rumors in the offseason, the only change in Gonzalez's immediate plans is the move with his Nationals teammates to a brand new Spring Training facility that is much closer to his home.

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

Rizzo: Nationals ready to put on show in 2017

Rizzo: Nationals ready to put on show in 2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With Presidents Day today and Spring Training just beginning to kick into full gear, who better to combine the two than Mike Rizzo, the Nationals' president of baseball operations and general manager.

Rizzo was promoted as the interim general manager in 2009 and later that year became the full-time GM. A year later, he was promoted to president of baseball operations. Since then, he has transformed the Nats into one of the winningest franchises in baseball.

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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 confident in another comeback bid

After second Tommy John, reliever looking to make Nats' bullpen

Nathan confident in another comeback bid

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Non-roster invitee Joe Nathan is hoping to make a second comeback late in his career following Tommy John surgery. He did it once before, and the 42-year-old right-hander, a 16-year veteran, hopes to pitch at least another season, which would make the Nationals his sixth Major League club.

Nathan threw what he described as an "easy" bullpen on Monday -- about 20 pitches -- and came away feeling great.

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

Werth poised for postseason success

Werth poised for postseason success

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A lot has changed since Jayson Werth arrived for his first Spring Training with the Nationals. When he signed in the winter of 2010, the Nats were one season removed from losing 103 games and had finished at the bottom of the National League East in three consecutive years. Washington also drew criticism for a perceived overpay to sign a player, who was in his 30s, to a seven-year, $126 million contract.

As Werth begins Spring Training for the final year of that contract, the Nationals have become one of the model franchises. Only the Cardinals have won more games in the Majors during the past five seasons and the Nats have won the National League East three times in the past five years. That success has not translated in the postseason, however, so Werth plans to allow 2017 to decide how he ultimately views his tenure in Washington.

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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.

Eaton still proving he's worth his weight

Eaton still proving he's worth his weight

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Adam Eaton has worn a gray Mighty Mouse T-shirt around the clubhouse almost daily during his first week at the Nationals clubhouse. It's a nickname he received while at Miami (Ohio), and as Eaton, who is listed at 5-foot-8, has embraced the character, the shirt has become one of his favorites.

"Anybody that's small in size, in this game especially Jose Altuve, Dustin Pedroia, you definitely play with a chip on your shoulder," Eaton said Sunday morning. "To say that smaller guys can play this game and play at a high level."

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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.

Dusty seeking string of postseason appearances

Dusty seeking string of postseason appearances

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Dusty Baker never prepared a message, but decided to speak from the heart when he addressed his team for the first time Sunday morning ahead of the Nationals first full-squad workout.

"It's like your family is back together again," Baker said.

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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.

Harper puts 2016 struggles in rearview mirror

Slugger says he knows cause of down season, but is focused on job at hand

Harper puts 2016 struggles in rearview mirror

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Bryce Harper says he knows why his production dropped during a disappointing 2016 season coming off winning the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in '15. But during his first meeting with the media this Spring Training, he did not elaborate on what was different.

"Yeah I mean I know exactly why, but I mean that's all last year," Harper said Saturday morning when asked if he knew the cause of his 2016 struggles.

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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.

Ross working to break bad habits

Nats' young righty wants to make it through entire season healthy

Ross working to break bad habits

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Joe Ross is trying to clean up some bad habits he's developed, which might help him make it through an entire season healthy.

At times, his arm wraps too far behind his body. Fixing it is a minor tweak, one that has been pointed out by his throwing partners and that he has noticed by looking at his reflection.

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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 joins camp after eventful offseason

Murphy joins camp after eventful offseason

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- After an offseason routine focused on strengthening his lower body, spending more time in the weight room and preparing his body by hitting less often than normal, Daniel Murphy believes he is fully recovered from the hamstring injuries that plagued him last year.

Murphy showed no ill-effects during the postseason, but at Nationals Winterfest in December, Murphy said he would have to remain diligent about the injury because it could be recurring. However, Murphy does not plan on changing his gritty style of play.

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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.

Turner excited for return to shortstop

Turner excited for return to shortstop

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- During batting practice in the second half of last season, after he finished shagging fly balls in the outfield to learn a position that was brand new to him, Trea Turner would run in and take grounders at second base and shortstop.

That's why Turner does not believe this year will be much of an adjustment for him, as he returns to his natural position and inherits the starting shortstop job.

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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 not concerned about possible new role

First baseman/outfielder likely to be used as pinch-hitter

Lind not concerned about possible new role

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Adam Lind feels a bit unfortunate that he fit free agency this past offseason, when a number of power hitters had trouble finding a home.

Chris Carter tied for the National League lead in home runs last season, but he didn't sign a one-year deal with the Yankees until Thursday. The market for sluggers Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo never fully developed, so both players ended up re-signing with their respective teams in Toronto and Baltimore.

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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's status for Opening Day unknown

Starter's finger fracture has healed, but pain still lingering

Scherzer's status for Opening Day unknown

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The stress fracture in Max Scherzer's right knuckle has healed structurally, but he is still experiencing some symptoms.

As pitchers began throwing bullpen sessions during the Nationals' first Spring Training workout on Thursday, Scherzer was playing catch on flat ground. This week marked the first time he has been able to throw a baseball this offseason, using a modified grip as he eases back into action.

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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.

Stras focused on marathon, not sprint

Starter hopes to complete full, healthy season for Nats in 2017

Stras focused on marathon, not sprint

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg threw off a mound for about 10 minutes, just like the rest of the Nationals' pitchers did during their first workout Thursday morning. Strasburg let loose on all his pitches, and he said he is no longer feeling any lingering effects from the partially torn pronator tendon that ended his 2016 season.

To many, this was a significant development as Strasburg prepares to enter the first season of a seven-year, $175 million contract. To him, however, it was not.

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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.