Since Stephen Strasburg will be under an innings limit in 2012, why not have him start in mid-May of this year so he can pitch into the postseason?
-- Paul D., Warrenton, Va.
I don't see that happening. Strasburg is expected to start on time and have an innings limit of 160 innings. It would not surprise me if he is the starter on Opening Day, when the Nationals play the Cubs in Chicago. Strasburg's season will be similar to Jordan Zimmermann's comeback campaign last year. It will come to an end sometime in September.
How is Chris Marrero progressing in his recovery from surgery?
-- Luke W., Vienna, Va.
Marrero's hamstring injury caused the Nats to acquire Mark DeRosa as the backup first baseman. Marrero is expected to miss the first half of the 2012 season, because he tore his hamstring playing winter ball.
What are the Nationals' intentions for Tyler Moore? We know he can hit and made several great plays at first.
-- Steve P., Kingston, N.Y.
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Moore will be in big league camp, as he is on the 40-man roster. I expect him to see time in the outfield and at first base during the Grapefruit League season. As of now, he is a long shot to be on the 25-man roster, and I expect him to start the season with Triple-A Syracuse. It will be interesting to see how he plays in 2012, because he could be the first baseman of the future. Unlike the previous two years, it would be nice if he gets off to a fast start.
Will Jayson Werth have a bounce-back season?
-- Jake B., Bethesda, Md.
Yes, I think he will have a bounce-back season. With Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche back for a full season, I feel Werth will not put a lot of pressure on himself to perform. I expect him to hit second in 2012 and put up similar numbers to what he put up for the Phillies.
What do you think about the Nationals not being able to sign Prince Fielder?
-- Conrad M., Washington
It would have been ludicrous to give Fielder a nine-year deal, which the Tigers gave him last week. Within four years, he could be no more than a designated hitter, and that would not have been good for the Nats.
With that in mind, I believe they are better off sticking with LaRoche, who is expected to be 100 percent healthy. Will he put up numbers like Fielder? No, but I expect him to play great defense and be decent at the plate.
Is the Nats' management still pursuing a center fielder? If so, who? Peter Bourjos?
-- Dean O., Winnipeg, Canada
The Nationals are still pursuing a center fielder, but from what I understand, the Angels are not trading Bourjos. I still believe Werth will be the center fielder. I find it hard to believe Washington will platoon Roger Bernadina and Mike Cameron in center. The Nats don't see Bernadina as a center fielder, and Cameron is considered past his prime.
Let's see what happens during the Grapefruit League slate. General manager Mike Rizzo could acquire a center fielder then.
With Fielder going to the Tigers, is there anything Rizzo can do to improve the offense this year?
-- Kent S., Herndon, Va.
First off all, the Nationals need much better seasons from Werth, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. With Fielder signing with the Tigers, there isn't a difference-maker available on the free-agent market. So Rizzo has to make a trade. But like the Gio Gonzalez trade, Rizzo most likely would have to give up a lot in return.