Mailbag: How are the Nats progressing?

Mailbag: How are the Nats progressing?

The Nationals have already started the exhibition season, and baseball fans want to know about them and their chances of getting better in the National League East.

Here are some answers to your questions.

I was just wondering how Ryan Wagner is progressing this spring? Will he be able to make the big-league club coming out of Spring Training?
-- Big Mike, Washington D.C.

There is a feeling inside the Nationals organization that Wagner is going to have a solid season. Manager Manny Acta talked about how good Wagner looked during batting practice. Wagner pitched one inning on Saturday and gave up a run against the Orioles.

How is Billy Traber looking this spring? Does the organization see him as a viable starting candidate, or is he likely to start the season in the 'pen?
-- Anthony, San Diego

First, Traber has looked extremely good. Last Saturday, he held the Orioles scoreless in 2 2/3 innings. It looks like he is close to straightening out his mechanics. And, yes, he considered a candidate for the starting rotation.

Don't you feel that Ronnie Belliard would make the better full-time second baseman with Felipe Lopez moving back to shortstop? Cristian Guzman hasn't shown anything since he's been in Washington.
-- Earl B., Sebring, Fla.

Earl, let's give Guzman a chance. As we found out, he was hurting in 2005 and he still played the game. I still believe that Guzman is the best defensive shortstop the Nationals have. I also think signing Belliard was a great move in case Guzman is not healthy during the season.

It's a given that Nook Logan is an excellent fielder, but how long will the Nats stick with him if he doesn't hit?
-- Andrew S. Washington D.C.

I think it will depend on how the Nationals do in the standings. I see Acta being patient as long the Nationals are winning. You know, Acta has really boosted Logan's confidence, and I believe Logan will have a very good season.

How's Travis Lee looking? Did he play in the intrasquad games?
-- Josh B., Washington D.C.

Lee has missed the first six games, including two intrasqaud games, because of a strained right oblique. However, he is getting better and may play against the Braves on Tuesday.

I am very interested in infielder Josh Wilson. I have watched his statistics for three years and with his great record last year in Colorado Springs. I wonder why his name is never mentioned as one of the backup infielders.
-- Rick T., Atlanta

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Wilson doesn't have the track record of a D'Angelo Jimenez, Jose Macias or Tony Womack. In order for Wilson to make this team, he is going to have to have a good spring with the bat and glove. So far, he is 1-for-5 and, at first glance, he doesn't have good range going to left.

With his performance at the end of last season, it looked like Brandon Harper was going to finally get a chance as Brian Schneider's backup. But with the unique situation of Jesus Flores as a Rule 5 Draft pick, where does that leave Harper?
-- Bob D., Chantilly, Va.

There is no question that Harper did a very good job with the Nationals last year. But it's hard to say where Harper will end up. Unless he really stumbles, Flores will be the backup. The only way I see the Nationals carrying three catchers is if Robert Fick makes the team.

You're always hearing players complaining that Spring Training is too long. Has Major League Baseball considered shortening it up at all?
-- Dustin C, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

I don't see it happening any time soon. I believe the pitchers, more than anybody else, need the six-plus weeks to get ready for Opening Day.

Comments from Nationals fans:

I have been following the career of Lee, and I sincerely think he can do a good job for the Nationals. In his next to last year with the Devil Rays, he hit .272 with 11 homers. In his last year with Tampa Bay, he couldn't get straightened out. His glove is a known entity, so if he doesn't get injured, I'm sure he'll be a big help.
-- Walt M., Watervliet, N.Y.

To me, Belliard is a great player that can hit the ball well. I am extremely surprised that no other teams were interested in him with a better offer than a non-guaranteed Minor League deal. Belliard can put up some great numbers. There's no doubt about that. I think the Nats are lucky to have him and won't hesitate to make him a starter. I look forward to see him play.
-- Alex C., Montreal

I really loved your Q&A with Bob Boone and Schneider. I thought it was a great way to bring out a lot of the detail behind how the catcher position works along with a contrast of the two styles of the current catcher and the former catcher. I think it would be super to do more articles of this type with today's Nationals and some of the players of the past.
-- John H., Washington D.C.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.