Carroll, Ankiel give Nats intriguing options

Carroll, Ankiel give Nats intriguing options

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Saturday that he is intrigued by outfielders Brett Carroll and Rick Ankiel. Both players signed Minor League deals with the club this past offseason and can play all three outfield positions.

Johnson said he is impressed by Carroll's arm in the outfield and the swing at the plate, and Ankiel looks more relaxed at the plate.

"I'm impressed with Carroll, who has opened my eyes.," Johnson said. "Ankiel has looked very good this spring with his adjustments. To me, they are more interesting to me than Bryce Harper bunting against a college team. I didn't give him the bunt sign, but I didn't care what he did."

Johnson is looking to build a more productive bench, especially from the left side of the plate. In 2011, the Nationals' pinch-hitters went a combined 38-for-204 (.186) with two home runs and 14 RBIs. Johnson was not happy that last year's bench was built on speed and defense.

"Last year, we had Laynce Nix, Matt Stairs, but I think they hit about .050 between them [off the bench]," Johnson said. "The right-handed side wasn't much better."