Eager to be ready by opener, Werth starts activity early

Outfielder doesn't wait full 8 weeks after shoulder surgery, but says swinging off tee no big risk

Eager to be ready by opener, Werth starts activity early

VIERA, Fla. -- Jayson Werth admitted to being a little anxious to finally test his surgically repaired right shoulder. The Nationals outfielder was initially supposed to wait eight weeks (which would've been Friday) after having arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder before he began any activity, but he decided to start a little early.

Before the Nats began their workout Wednesday morning, Werth took about 20 swings, most of which were dry cuts, but included five swings off a tee.

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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.

Friendly competition: Harper takes hacks vs. Strasburg

Former No. 1 overall picks face off for first time in round of live BP at Nationals camp

Friendly competition: Harper takes hacks vs. Strasburg

VIERA, Fla. -- For a moment during the Nationals' workout Wednesday morning, Field 4 was the center of attention. Stephen Strasburg was one of the pitchers who had requested to throw a second live batting-practice session in advance of facing hitters in Spring Training games.

The first hitter to step into the batter's box against Strasburg? Bryce Harper.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Scherzer eager to see how Nats' rotation stacks up

Right-hander brings years of pitching knowledge to Washington's rotation

Scherzer eager to see how Nats' rotation stacks up

VIERA, Fla. -- Inside the Nationals' spring clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium is a row of lockers that's indicative of how strong their starting rotation may be this season.

From left to right: Jordan Zimmermann, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez. It's still to be determined whether that group will be good enough to pitch the Nats into the World Series for the first time in the 46-year history of the Montreal/Washington franchise.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Escobar's transition to second ahead of schedule

Escobar's transition to second ahead of schedule

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have nothing but good things to say about Yunel Escobar. After the team acquired him from the Athletics in January, Escobar was informed that he would switch from shortstop to second base, a position he hasn't played since 2007.

Since he arrived in camp, Escobar has worked hard to get comfortable at his new position. After he takes batting practice with the team, Escobar goes back to Space Coast Stadium for extra work around the bag. There are days he wants to get used to playing with his new double-play partner, Ian Desmond. Escobar gets used to the double-play feeds from Desmond and vice versa. There are other days Escobar wants to improve his footwork around the bag.

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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.

After difficult year, Gwynn ready for fresh start

With the passing of his father, Nats outfielder had trouble focusing on baseball

After difficult year, Gwynn ready for fresh start

VIERA, Fla. -- After a long trip from San Diego, outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. arrived at Nationals camp on Wednesday, looking for a fresh start.

Gwynn wondered if he was ever going to get a chance to play baseball again, after no offers came his way during the offseason. But the Nats came calling Monday morning, and the two sides were able to get a deal done later that night.

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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 says new rules will become second nature

Pace of play will be in effect for Nats' spring opener, and manager isn't concerned

Williams says new rules will become second nature

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals will have their first experience with Major League Baseball's new pace-of-play rules during Thursday's Grapefruit League opener against the Mets.

Manager Matt Williams met with MLB officials earlier this week to discuss specifics on the new rules, which include hitters having to keep one foot in the batter's box between pitches, and a clock to limit time between innings.

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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.

Scherzer gets nod for Nationals' spring opener

Williams gives no indication for Opening Day

Scherzer gets nod for Nationals' spring opener

VIERA, Fla. -- After an offseason of buzz that has carried into the first few weeks of Spring Training, Max Scherzer will make his anticipated Nationals debut Thursday, starting the team's Grapefruit League opener against the Mets at 5:05 p.m. ET.

Scherzer is scheduled to throw two innings or about 45 pitches, depending on which comes first.

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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.

Ankiel brings wealth of experience to new role

Former pitcher/OF on hand to help players cope with everyday stresses

Ankiel brings wealth of experience to new role

VIERA, Fla. -- Rick Ankiel, the Nationals' new life skills coordinator, arrived at the team's spring facility on Tuesday for his first day on the job, which he spent introducing himself to some players while getting reacquainted with others.

Washington hired Ankiel to the new position in January, and he is hoping to use the wealth of his experiences in the Majors to impart wisdom through the team's Minor League system.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

There's an air of excitement in Nationals' camp

Club has plenty of talent in all phases of the game, but rotation in a category by itself

There's an air of excitement in Nationals' camp

VIERA, Fla. -- The key word here is "excited" or "exciting" or "excitement."

But this is not child-at-Christmas-jumping-for-joy-right-now excitement. This is more like the healthy anticipation of down-the-road achievement, on the part of highly competitive adults.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strasburg appreciates Gwynn's style of play, work ethic

Pair grew up and work out in San Diego

Strasburg appreciates Gwynn's style of play, work ethic

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was pleased to learn that the Nationals signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a Minor League deal Monday night. Gwynn is expected to join the team on Wednesday.

Strasburg and Gwynn saw a lot of each other during the offseason, working out in San Diego. When he was a kid, Strasburg remembered watching Gwynn play high school basketball. Strasburg also played college baseball for Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Sr. at San Diego State.

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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.

Gwynn joins Nationals' outfield competition

Gwynn joins Nationals' outfield competition

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a Minor League contract, the team announced on Monday night. Gwynn will join the team at big league Spring Training on Wednesday.

Gwynn, the son of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, spent last season with the Phillies, hitting .152 in 105 at-bats with three RBIs and three stolen bases. The 32-year-old has a chance to make the team as its fourth outfielder. With outfielder Jayson Werth limited as he recovers from Jan. 9 right shoulder surgery, Gwynn will get his share of playing time at Nationals camp.

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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.

Zimmerman puts in extra work at first base

Veteran infielder learning how much time he has during plays at new position

Zimmerman puts in extra work at first base

VIERA, Fla. -- After the Nationals completed their workout on Monday, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman went to Space Coast Stadium to get some extra work in the infield with manager Matt Williams and defensive coordinator and advance coach Mark Weidemaier.

"Hold on skipper," Weidemaier said. "I'm going to put a timer 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.

Zimmermann doesn't ease up during live BP

Nationals right-hander feels he could 'go up against any hitter right now'

Zimmermann doesn't ease up during live BP

VIERA, Fla. -- It was just his first live batting-practice session of Spring Training, and most of the hitters did not even swing the bat, but Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann treated it with increased intensity.

He stepped on the mound focused on finding out how sharp his breaking ball is and how well he can command his fastball. Zimmermann even ran one fastball too far inside and nailed Clint Robinson in the right leg.

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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.

Barrett makes most of each opportunity with Nats

Righty had plenty of success as a rookie in 2014, but he also faced adversity

Barrett makes most of each opportunity with Nats

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Aaron Barrett vowed to never let adversity get the best of him. He learned how to take the good with the bad by watching how players such as Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Craig Stammen and Drew Storen reacted to certain situations.

"You just learn about their character, the way they handled themselves in tough times and good times," Barrett said. "… Just knowing that these guys have been through the good and the bad in their careers, you learned as much as possible, just the way those guys go about their business. It helped me a lot."

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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.

Purke hopes to move past injuries, contribute to Nats

Left-hander has dealt with shoulder, elbow issues since being selected in '11 Draft

Purke hopes to move past injuries, contribute to Nats

VIERA, Fla. -- Left-hander Matt Purke has been injury prone since he was selected by the Nationals in the third round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

First, he had shoulder issues. Last May, Purke had Tommy John surgery, and he was taken off the 40-man roster when the team released him in November. The 24-year-old was later re-signed to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

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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 sharp in first session facing hitters

Scherzer sharp in first session facing hitters

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer threw his first live batting-practice session Sunday at the club's Spring Training complex, and he looked like he was in midseason form.

Scherzer's fastball was crisp, and he had a slider that was going down in the zone effectively.

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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.

Harper says he has to 'step up' for Nationals

Slugging outfielder looks to leave thumb injury in past

Harper says he has to 'step up' for Nationals

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper wants to improve his numbers from last year. He made it clear Sunday that he wants to stay injury-free and he would like to get better at the plate.

Although he missed 62 games because of a thumb injury, Harper put up respectable numbers, hitting .273 with 13 home runs, 32 RBIs and a .344 on-base percentage. He also was the team's best player in the National League Division Series, hitting three home runs in the four games against the Giants. However, after returning from his injury on June 30, Harper struck out 83 times in 269 at-bats. He acknowledged that he was overzealous after coming off the disabled list.

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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.

Inbox: Would Nats consider 6-man rotation?

Beat reporter Bill Ladson fields questions from Nationals fans

Inbox: Would Nats consider 6-man rotation?

Would the Nationals consider a six-man rotation so Tanner Roark isn't left out?
-- Nicholas Z., Cottleville, Mo.

You are one of many who feel Roark should remain in the rotation after his productive season in 2014. However, I don't see the Nationals going with a six-man rotation. When the season starts, I see Roark in the bullpen as a long man.

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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.

McLouth nearly up to speed from shoulder surgery

Outfielder an option for Nationals on Opening Day if Werth not ready

McLouth nearly up to speed from shoulder surgery

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Nate McLouth is near the final stages in the recovery of his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Although he is not restricted from participating of the team's workouts, the Nationals are limiting the volume of McLouth's activity as a precaution.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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 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."

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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..

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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.