Marquis sets example for young staff

Marquis sets example for young staff

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals' exhibition season is only four games old, and Jason Marquis has already made an impact on the team's young pitchers off the field.

Marquis' work ethic has rubbed off on Opening Day starter John Lannan, who recently said the pitchers are working harder than they have in the past two years. And all the credit goes to Marquis for the change in the staff's attitude.

"He is the force of the staff," Lannan said. "He has that attitude. He works hard. You see guys working out in the morning more so than I have seen in the last two years. It's just not myself, but everybody else. The workout regimen has kind of changed -- the attitude toward the game, the little things here and there that we talk about."

In a short time, Marquis got to know fellow sinkerball-throwing right-hander Craig Stammen, and he gave the youngster a few tips on how to get hitters out.

Stammen said it's good to have a veteran pitcher like Marquis who can show him and the rest of the staff how to do things the right way.

"He is somebody we can look up to and watch how he does things -- how he gets ready for the season," Stammen said. "Last year, we didn't have anybody to watch until Livan [Hernandez] came along in late August. A lot of the older guys are showing us the way a little bit."

But Washington didn't sign Marquis to a two-year, $15 million contract just to be a leader. The team also wants him to win games and improve a pitching staff that finished 16th in the National League in ERA.

Marquis will make his debut as a member of the Nationals on Sunday afternoon against Mets at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at 1:10 ET on MLB.TV. His toughest task, however, will come early in the regular season, when he is scheduled to face the Phillies on April 7 and 12.

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"I'm excited," Marquis said. "The opponent to me is not a factor. They are a great team, no doubt. I still have to do a job. It comes down to executing pitches -- no matter what the opponent is. I don't care if I face the [NL] champions or a team that finishes in last place, you still have to execute pitches, make pitches and do your job. I don't get up or down for a particular team or game."

Marquis also signed with Washington because he wanted to be closer to his family, which lives in New York. There were published reports out of the Big Apple that he wanted to come home and play for the Mets. But Marquis said the Nationals were aggressive and showed the most interest.

"The mutual interest that I had made my decision a lot easier," Marquis said. "A lot of it was blown out of proportion [when it comes to playing in New York]. It's every kid's dream to play where they grew up.

"When I was asked a few times last year: Would I like to play at home? No doubt. I wanted to be home as much as possible. It was blown out of proportion that it was the only place I wanted to go. This is my 15th season in the game and my fifth organization. I wanted to play in New York, but I didn't have to play there. I'm happy here in Washington, and I think we can do some good things here."

Marquis has done his job in the clubhouse. Now, it's time to do it on the field.

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