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.

Kelley, Treinen internal candidates for closer

Kelley, Treinen internal candidates for closer

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Once the Nationals began talking up their potential in-house options at closer, two names emerged as the favorites: Shawn Kelley and Blake Treinen.

Both pitchers excelled in high-leverage situations with the Nats in 2016, although neither player has consistent experience pitching in the ninth inning. As of Wednesday afternoon, neither player had any more clarity of his role in 2017. However, if the team cannot acquire a veteran with experience pitching the ninth, Kelley and Treinen are the favorites to begin the season with the 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.

Nationals, Lind agree to 1-year deal

Lefty hammered 20 homers for Mariners in 2016

Nationals, Lind agree to 1-year deal

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals' bench was one of their strengths in 2016 and they made a move to strengthen that unit, agreeing with free agent Adam Lind on a one-year deal.

The deal, which the club announced Wednesday, gives the Nationals a powerful left-handed bat off the bench and provides insurance at first base and left field. The agreement includes a mutual option for '18.

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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 hoping to impress at first big league camp

Fedde hoping to impress at first big league camp

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Shortly after Lucas Giolito got traded to the White Sox this offseason, Erick Fedde called him in disbelief. Fedde had been following Hot Stove rumors, where his own name was mentioned as a possible trade chip, but it was still difficult to predict that the Nationals would deal three of their top pitching prospects.

Then Giolito reminded Fedde of what this meant for him. Some of the players above Fedde on the depth chart were gone, providing him an opening to make an impact in Washington sooner, rather than later. He arrived this week ready to begin his first Major League Spring Training as the highest-rated pitching prospect in camp, according to MLBPipeline.com.

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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 in awe of new Spring Training facility

Nats in awe of new Spring Training facility

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As many of the players walked into the clubhouse for the first time, their eyes lit up in awe. This room could rival their clubhouse back at Nationals Park, with 70-inch TVs, a Nats logo on the ceiling, comfy chairs and more than 60 lockers in a spacious circular clubhouse.

Pitchers and catchers reported to The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Tuesday, the first chance for many of the Nationals to see their new facility. There is still construction to maneuver around in various parts of the complex, which is shared with the Astros, but the Nationals say they have everything they need to get their work done.

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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.

Managing uncertainty piece of cake for Baker

Baseball lifer not concerned by entering final year of deal

Managing uncertainty piece of cake for Baker

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Perhaps other managers would be worried about their status as so-called "lame ducks" as they prepare for Spring Training entering the final season of their contract. Dusty Baker, however, is unconcerned.

"I've been in this situation more times than any manager in baseball -- almost," Baker said Tuesday afternoon during his first Spring Training news conference. "I don't even look at it as a lame duck. I'm past lame. I'm confident in my abilities, and God leads my path, so therefore, I don't worry."

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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

Fred Zinkie

Tale of the fantasy tape: Mets vs. Nationals

Which National League East rival has superior fantasy assets?

Tale of the fantasy tape: Mets vs. Nationals

The rivalry between the Nationals and Mets has heated up in recent seasons, as the two clubs have produced the past three National League East champions. Before they settle their competition on the field in 2017, we can get a head start on assessing these clubs by comparing the fantasy value of their key players for the upcoming campaign.

• 2017 Fantasy Player Preview: Mets | Nationals | Full rankings

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Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals enter camp amid lofty expectations

Club aiming for a deep postseason run after early exits

Nationals enter camp amid lofty expectations

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Nationals squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are set to open their new Spring Training home in West Palm Beach, Fla., for what they hope will be the beginning of a World Series championship campaign. On the backs of stars such as Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer and Daniel Murphy, they will enter this season among the favorites in the National League.

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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' roster mostly set as camp approaches

Turner takes over at short; limited bullpen and bench openings up for grabs

Nats' roster mostly set as camp approaches

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Nationals squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' starting lineup and rotation are all but set, barring injury, yet they will enter Spring Training with a few unknowns on their Opening Day roster. Notably, the bullpen likely has at least three spots up for grabs, while the bench has one opening.

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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 want World Series title in '17

Ending MLB's longest pennant drought would cap an ideal season

Nationals want World Series title in '17

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Nationals squad each day this week. Today's topic: The perfect season.

WASHINGTON -- When the Cubs won the World Series this past season, the Nationals franchise became the unfortunate owners of the longest pennant drought in Major League Baseball. The Montreal Expos joined MLB in 1969, and neither they nor the Nats have reached the Fall Classic since. The Nationals moved to Washington in 2005, and although they have conquered the National League East three times, they have been unsuccessful in advancing past the NL Division Series.

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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, Red Sox to play at U.S. Naval Academy

Nats, Red Sox to play at U.S. Naval Academy

Major League Baseball's long tradition of honoring America's military heroes will continue this spring when the Nationals and Red Sox compete in a preseason exhibition game April 1 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

The game, which will be open exclusively to Naval Academy midshipmen and members of the U.S. Navy, will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Nationals will host one exhibition game at the Naval Academy each year through 2019 as part of a new 3-year agreement.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals believe they can win it all in '17

After 95-victory season, club aims to get over hump in postseason

Nationals believe they can win it all in '17

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Nats squad each day this week. Today's topic -- What's the vision?

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are trying to strike a delicate balance.

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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.

Nine Nats land on 2017 Classic rosters

Nine Nats land on 2017 Classic rosters

WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo wants the United States to win a World Baseball Classic, so he has been in favor of allowing any Washington Nationals, American-born or otherwise, to participate in the tournament.

The Nationals had some notable names among the five players from their 40-man roster and nine total when the 2017 Classic rosters were revealed Wednesday. Daniel Murphy, Tanner Roark, Oliver Perez and Rafael Martin, along with newly-acquired left-hander Enny Romero are scheduled to compete this year.

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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 out to return to elite level in '17

Harper out to return to elite level in '17

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Nationals squad each day this week. Today's topic: How's Your Star?

WASHINGTON -- A year ago, there was a case to be made for Bryce Harper as perhaps the best player in baseball. He was coming off winning the NL Most Valuable Player award unanimously in 2015, the youngest player in history to do so. He started off 2016 with a scorching hot April that earned him NL Player of the Month honors, but his performance for the rest of the season was underwhelming.

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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 add electric arm in trade for lefty Romero

Nats add electric arm in trade for lefty Romero

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals added another left-handed arm to their bullpen mix when they acquired lefty Enny Romero from the Rays on Tuesday for Minor League righty Jeffrey Rosa.

Romero, who just turned 26 in January, was the youngest member on Tampa Bay's Opening Day roster last year but had a disappointing season. He had a 5.91 ERA in 52 games and got himself into trouble with high walk numbers at 5.5 walks per nine 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.