Roark revved up to represent US in Classic

Throwing since November, Nats righty sharp in three-inning spring debut

Roark revved up to represent US in Classic

JUPITER, Fla. -- Tanner Roark was notified by Team USA that he would pitch in its second game of the World Baseball Classic on March 11, although at the time, he was unsure which team he would face.

Turns out his opponent will be the Dominican Republic, the defending Classic champion, which ran the table in 2013 to finish 8-0. The Nationals are tasked with getting Roark prepared for that start and for the regular season on a bit of an accelerated pace.The right-hander made his Grapefruit League debut in Monday's 5-4 loss to the Cardinals, throwing three scoreless innings while most starters are still throwing one or two innings.

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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.

Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ready for debut

Nationals and Astros, who share the facility, to face off on Tuesday

Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ready for debut

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred will help usher in a new era of Grapefruit League baseball at 1:05 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon when the Astros and Nationals meet in the inaugural game at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the jewel of the new Spring Training facility the clubs began sharing this year.

Construction crews have been working around the clock for weeks to finish the 6,500-seat stadium, while the Astros and Nationals practiced in separate complexes on each side of the venue. Crews will be putting the finishing touches on the stadium throughout the spring, but much of that construction won't be visible to the teams or fans.

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

Turner goes deep in Roark's sharp spring debut

Turner goes deep in Roark's sharp spring debut

JUPITER, Fla. -- Tanner Roark tossed three scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut and Trea Turner hit a solo homer, but the Cardinals rallied for four runs in the eighth inning to steal a 5-4 victory over the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday.

It marked the first of eight Grapefruit League games between the clubs.

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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.

Speier has Trea's back in switch to shortstop

Nationals bench coach quite familiar with position from his playing days

Speier has Trea's back in switch to shortstop

JUPITER, Fla. -- During Chris Speier's first season as a starting shortstop in the Majors in 1971, he made 33 errors in 156 games.

"It should've been about 50," he said. "I had [Willie] McCovey at first base."

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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.

Cole to provide key depth for Nats

Highly rated prospect will get increased opportunities in rotation following Giolito, Lopez trade

Cole to provide key depth for Nats

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the Nationals traded away some of their rotation depth this offseason, it increased the importance of right-hander A.J. Cole, the team's No. 9 prospect as rated by MLBPipeline.com. He owns the most big league starting experience of the remaining pitchers behind the starters, and he would almost certainly be the next in line if the Nationals suffer an injury in their rotation.

Washington's rotation is set, but it does have some question marks. Max Scherzer has a stress fracture in his right ring finger that has been slow to heal this offseason, and his status for Opening Day is unclear. Stephen Strasburg has made every start in a season only once in his career. And Joe Ross is coming off a shoulder injury that robbed him of two months of his 2016 season and has him altering his mechanics.

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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.

Taylor a bright spot for Nationals against Twins

Taylor a bright spot for Nationals against Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Catcher Jason Castro, who joined the Twins on a three-year deal in the offseason, connected on his first homer of the spring to lead Minnesota to a 5-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.

Castro crushed a two-run blast to deep right field off Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole in the second inning. Cole started for Washington, allowing four runs on four hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger 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.

Hey wassup hello: Fedde debuts for Nats

Highly touted pitching prospect throws two scoreless innings Sunday

Hey wassup hello: Fedde debuts for Nats

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While warming up in the bullpen, Erick Fedde admitted to being a little nervous. It was only a Grapefruit League game at the end of February, but this was his first time facing Major League hitters.

And he was impressive in his spring debut, tossing a pair of scoreless innings with two strikeouts during the Nationals' 5-2 loss to the Twins on Sunday.

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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 has first 'pen session since injury

Scherzer has first 'pen session since injury

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Max Scherzer completed his first bullpen session of the spring on Saturday afternoon, the first time he has thrown off the mound since he arrived at camp still feeling the effects of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

The Nationals announced Scherzer used a modified grip to get through the outing, but that it went well. Scherzer told the Washington Post that he threw his fastball with a three-fingered grip because the usual two-finger grip still caused him pain. He said he would continue to do so and did not rule out using the three-finger fastball grip during 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.

Bryce is right: Harper homers in 1st spring AB

Slugger sees immediate results after adding 15 lbs. of muscle over offseason

Bryce is right: Harper homers in 1st spring AB

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bryce Harper bulked up during the offseason, adding about 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. He has credited his offseason routine as a reason he entered Spring Training feeling strong.

Harper saw immediate results in his first at-bat of Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon, when he launched a solo home run over the right-center-field wall in the second inning of the Nationals' 8-6 victory over the Mets.

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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 leads Nats' 4-HR win in spring opener

Harper leads Nats' 4-HR win in spring opener

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bryce Harper began his spring with a bang, as he launched a solo homer to start the second inning as the Nationals defeated the Mets, 8-6, on Saturday afternoon at First Data Field.

Harper's home run, which came off left-hander Sean Gilmartin, was the first of four Nationals homers on the day -- Neftali Soto hit a two-run homer in the fifth before Andrew Stevenson and Matt Skole hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning.

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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 Saturday.

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

Baker meets with Torre, talks rule changes

Baker meets with Torre, talks rule changes

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker met with Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's chief baseball officer, prior to Saturday's 8-6 victory against the Mets to discuss some of the potential new rule changes for the 2017 season.

Among them was the change to the intentional walk. In a change proposed by the Commissioner's office, pitchers would no longer be required to lob four pitches out of the strike zone to issue an intentional pass. Instead, managers can now just signal from the dugout with four fingers that he intends to give a player a free base.

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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.

Rizzo has 'difficult' talk with Norris about Wieters

Nationals GM likes depth at catcher, feels Scherzer will be ready by Opening Day

Rizzo has 'difficult' talk with Norris about Wieters

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had a long conversation with Derek Norris, whom he selected in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft, traded away in December 2011 and then re-acquired last December with the idea that he would be his starting catcher this season. However, Rizzo wanted to tell Norris that the team was closing in on signing free-agent catcher Matt Wieters, a deal that was completed Friday morning.

"It's a difficult conversation to have, but it's part of the business and Derek knows that," Rizzo said. "We have a good, long relationship with him so that helped."

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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.