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Feb 15, 2010, 4:47 PM EDT

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What's that sweet sound I've been hearing all morning? Why yes, it's the sudden peppering of Twitter updates and blog postings from reporters scattered about Florida and Arizona, regaling us with the first images of spring. Brad Penny is throwing in Jupiter. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are playing catch in Fort Myers. Derek Jeter is taking BP in Tampa. Makes the heart flutter, doesn't it?

The Nationals are among the last teams to actually commence formal workouts (pitchers and catchers report Friday, take physicals Saturday and then begin organized workouts Sunday) so we've still got a few days to bridge the gap between anticipation and actual, live baseball.

To update you on my travel plans, I'll be hitting the road Wednesday morning and making the journey down I-95 all day. Planning to stay over in Savannah, Ga., then complete the final 4-5 hours of the drive on Thursday and hopefully make a cameo appearance at Space Coast Stadium sometime in the afternoon. Look for my award-winning photos to begin popping up around then.

Between now and then, I'll keep tabs on any news developments — Chien-Ming Wang's much-anticipated decision, Brian Bruney and Sean Burnett's arbitration hearings, etc. — but I've obviously got a fewRead more ยป

  1. Positively Half St. - Feb 15, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    Mark- One thing I really would like to know about among the pitchers is the health status of Chuck James. He is probably an afterthought for most (and didn't make your list, above), but in 2006 and 2007 he went 11-4 and 11-10 for the Braves. If he is fully healed, the ERA's of 3.78 and 4.24, and WHIPs of 1.24 and 1.38 would compare favorably with most of our staff.

  2. Positively Half St. - Feb 15, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    An entertaining set of comments on Chuck James can be found on this Atlanta Braves blog after he signed with the Nats:http://www.talkingchop.com/2010/1/25/1269460/nationals-sign-former-braves

  3. natsfan1a - Feb 15, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Have a safe trip. Will look forward to reading updates here.

  4. Scooter - Feb 15, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    +1/2, those comments are teh awesome. Thanks!

  5. Wolly and the Teev - Feb 15, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    You really need to go to Lone Star BBQ Buffet in Santee, SC on your trip down there. It's incredible.

  6. kungpow12 - Feb 15, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    Best of luck on your trip down to Space Coast and in covering Spring Training for all us Nats fans stuck in the Great White North. Looking forward to reading all about your top 5 themes, but also many others that develop over the next month or so. You might also want to hit up Dixie Crossroads in Titusville while you're down there. It's pretty reasonable and very good seafood. Haven't eaten there recently, but it was always good. Best part: free, unlimited corn fritters with powerderd sugar on top. Yeah. Really. http://www.dixiecrossroads.com/

  7. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 15, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    Kungpow: I've actually been to Dixie Crossroads. Definitely an experience, and those powdered sugar fritters are outstanding!

  8. SBrent - Feb 15, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    For the record, your eager readership is global. I'm checking in daily from Maysan Province, Iraq.

  9. natsfan1a - Feb 15, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    Mark's getting ready to head to Florida, more snow is falling outside, and now you guys are talking *powdered sugar fritters*? You're killing me, I tell ya! :-)

  10. Farid - Feb 15, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    Maysan Province, Iraq? You think that is "out of the way," SBrent? C'mon ….Right now it's about 11:00 p.m. in Iraq.I live in Pocatello Idaho.Right now, it's 1973.

  11. SonnyG10 - Feb 15, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Mark,Looking forward to your input from spring training.

  12. Kenz aFan - Feb 15, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    Stay safe and bring home all the Nats news that's fit and unfit to read.I'm wondering, when writing about guys battling for spots in the rotation or bullpen, could you give each player an ongoing rating (yes, I know, player ratings in spring training are nothing more than guesses much of the time.) that could give us on the outside, looking in, an idea on how well a player is doing on earning a spot.Example note about a player: "Matt Chico has caused more than a few heads to turn and has taken more than a few steps toward earning a rotation spot Stay tuned" (If, by chance, that does happen, which I doubt, remember you heard it hear first.)

  13. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 15, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    SBrent: Wow, glad to hear NatsTown is alive and well in the Middle East. Stay safe, my friend!Kenz aFan: Interesting idea. Maybe I could have a daily feature: One guy whose stock is on the rise, one guy whose stock is falling. What do you think?

  14. Anonymous - Feb 16, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    You won't be far from my dwellings Wednesday, about 45 min from Savannah in the low country of SC. All our snow is gone and it should be in upper 50's wed, maybe even 60 and sunny. Have a nice drive south.

  15. Anonymous - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:46 AM

    Mark – my big management question – how are they going to balance the 25-man on the youth vs "trusted veteran" stuff? Does Wang keep Detwiler out of the rotation, does Kennedy make Desmond the starting SS in Syracuse, etc. Some might say that they leaned too heavily toward youth last year and 100 losses was the result, but looking at the 09 roster, that's not really the case. They leaned too heavily towards "guys who aren't very good at baseball" last year, some of whom weren't really young.Anyway, any thoughts – including your own – on the views on questions like whether they would rather lean towards youth or rely on "grizzled veteranness" in those close calls (Bernadina vs Harris; guardado vs Batista vs Storen)

  16. Anonymous - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Mark – I like the rising and falling idea!

  17. natsfan1a - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    I also like the rising and falling idea.Also, for those who are stuck in the snowy Metro DC area this week (like me), you may choose to follow the idea of a commenter over on the Post site. Specifically, eat at Panera and pretend that you're in Viera. I just might do that. :-)

  18. Kenz aFan - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Mark – Sorry about the slow reply, I've been doing some early spring cleaning.I like your suggestion of a writeup on one or two players who's stock is on the rise or might be falling. However, as a side feature, a daily (or possibly bi or tri-weekly) list that contained nothing more than the names of players battling for spots. Next to those names you could use a plus or minus sign or dash as indicators.Readers who are hungry for information will often times grab onto even the smallest bits because they are fans of certain players. Heck with the daily (or however often) stock ratings, fans could even create graphs to chart each player's progress. That list would be something not readily found on other sites and if you chose to, you could include that list as an exclusivity to those who made donations.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
ATLANTA 76 77 13.0
MIAMI 74 79 15.0
NEW YORK 74 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 84 19.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Friday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 89 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 88 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 86 68 3.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 69 5.0 +1.0
PITTSBURGH 83 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 75 10.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Friday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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