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Live updates from NatsFest

Jan 25, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

Hello from the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, which today is hosting NatsFest for the first time. And there’s plenty on tap for the festivities, which runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for the general public (season-ticket holders and VIPs get an hour to themselves beginning at 10 a.m.).

Props to the Nationals for bringing so many players to this event. Twenty-one of them are scheduled to appear, a list that includes Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Denard Span. Matt Williams and Mike Rizzo also will be here. And so will perhaps the most-popular ex-National in the club’s brief history: Livan Hernandez.

We’ll get a chance to speak to all of them over the course of the day, and we’ll be updating this post with all of the highlights and news that develops. So if you’re here in attendance, please feel free to share your observations and thoughts. And if you’re not able to join us, check back for regular updates…

2:50 p.m. — Here’s the biggest news of the day: Livan Hernandez is back with the Nats. Don’t worry, he’s not attempting a comeback or anything. But Mike Rizzo has invited the big guy to work for the organization in a to-be-determined capacity, and Livo said it’s “99 percent” that he’ll accept. Which means he’ll come to spring training as an instructor. “I’m ready to ride the golf cart like Pat Corrales,” he said. Having just completed his first-ever season out of baseball, Hernandez realized how much he misses the game. He followed the Nats closely last year and spoke to pitchers from the club on more than one occasion to offer advice. And now it looks like he’ll get a chance to speak to them on an everyday basis, in person in Viera this spring.

2:13 p.m. — (Hughes) Espinosa also had an interesting quote regarding the broken wrist he played with last season. He said he should have rested the injury when it first occurred in April.

“I shouldn’t have [played]. But at the same time, I’m not the doctor reading the film. So yea, I shouldn’t have been playing on a broken wrist the whole year. Like I said, if you’re told you have a bruise, you play through a bruise. Everybody plays through bumps and bruises. I wouldn’t have played if I knew I had a broken wrist. I shouldn’t have been playing at all.”

1:51 pm. — (Hughes) Danny Espinosa just stopped by with some updates on his offseason. he said he’s hired a personal trainer and feels stronger now than he’s ever felt. He also says he’s been told by both Mike Rizzo and Matt Williams that he will compete for his old job as starting second baseman in spring.

“Matt and Mike Rizzo called me in the offseason and told me I’m going to get a fair opportunity to win my job back. That’s all I can ask for. I’ve never asked for anything to be handed to me. If I can get a fair opportunity to win my job back, I feel like I can do it,” he said.

12:50 p.m. — Just had a chance to talk to Stephen Strasburg and get an update on his recovery from October surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. Strasburg said he is fully healed from what he described as a “minor” procedure and said the rest of his offseason and spring preparation will be no different than in years past. So, it would appear we can cross that off the list of concerns heading to Viera.

11:55 a.m. — Bryce Harper just made the rounds here and offered an update on his surgically repaired knee. Harper said he began sprinting about three weeks ago and the knee “feels great.” That said, he admitted he was hurting well before his April and May wall collisions, perhaps even as far back as a year ago. He also was noncommittal when asked whether he’ll be 100 percent ready for the start of spring training. I later asked him what he learned from the whole experience of trying to play through injury last season. His response: “I’ll probably never do that again. My knee was a lot worse than people probably thought. I’ll probably never do that again.”

11:34 a.m. — Mike Rizzo just held court for about 10 minutes, discussing a variety of topics regarding the Nationals’ offseason. Rizzo said he feels good about the club’s roster heading into 2014, saying it’s an “improved version of the 2013 team.”

He also addressed the rumors surrounding Grant Balfour, who recently signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rizzo admits the team did check in on the closer, but in the end Balfour chose to sign closer to home. Balfour has a home in Florida, having previously spent three years with the Rays.

“We were in on Balfour, we thought there was value there,” Rizzo said. “I think sleeping in his own bed and being near his own home, I think over-rided what we were trying to offer him.”

10:30 a.m. — Tyler Moore and Scott Hairston were the first players brought into the media holding pen. No earth-shattering news from either, but Moore did make an interesting observation: He said he was probably too lackadaisical last spring in his preparation for the season, and that negatively affected him once the year began and he wasn’t getting regular playing time. He said he’ll try to work himself harder this spring, recognizing that he needs to make the most of every at-bat he gets to keep himself fresh once the real games start and he’s confined to the bench.

  1. Sonny G 10 - Jan 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Oh, Boy!!! I can’t be there, but I look forward to hearing about it. I’m glad they got a lot of the players to attend. Good they realize where their bread gets buttered.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    have fun guys! Wish I could attend!

  3. Doc - Jan 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Livo is there!

    Gotta give the Nats credit for having a former Nat , and probably most colorful Nat in the teams brief history there. He’s one guy I’d like to meet!

    Nice to hear some honest conversation from a guy like TyMo. Hope he does well this year.

    • natsfan1a - Jan 25, 2014 at 5:43 PM

      Having a pic taken with him was the highlight of my day. (Tyler Moore and Ryan Mattheus may also have been in the pic but I can always Photo Shop them out. Just kidding. Sort of. :-))

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    If possible, can insiders also share pictures?

  5. David Proctor - Jan 25, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Strasburg says after his cleanup surgery he feels the best he has since before the Tommy John surgery. Doubt it means too much, but interesting.

  6. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Gotta love what I have hears on 106.7 so far.

  7. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Heard

  8. David Proctor - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    “I later asked him what he learned from the whole experience of trying to play through injury last season. His response: “I’ll probably never do that again. My knee was a lot worse than people probably thought. I’ll probably never do that again.””

    Good.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      Hope that means better numbers on the field from him.

  9. Doc - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Great updates and interviews!

    Thanks Mark and Chase.

  10. Doc - Jan 25, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    Anybody seen Anthony Rendon?

    • David Proctor - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      He’s on 106.7 right now.

  11. veejh - Jan 25, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    I like what T Moore had to say. Realized he could have prepared better last season and that it affected his season. Maybe the 2011 T Moore will be back this year. We need that extra thump off the bench.

  12. David Proctor - Jan 25, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Really, really good interview just now with Bryce on 106.7

  13. JayB - Jan 25, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    interesting observation: He said he was probably too lackadaisical last spring in his preparation for the season

    That observation applies to the whole team least spring……NASCAR Davey…..do not miss him one bit (and yes he was the best thing that happened to Nats at one point…just not the right fit for 2013 or Playoffs in 2012

  14. JayB - Jan 25, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    CUT DANNY NOW….”my old job back”…..Cancer is the making…..he is clearly a jerk who has no sense of reality……just all about him still.

    • David Proctor - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      He said he doesn’t expect anything handed to him but just wants a fair shot to earn his job back. Everyone should have that opportunity. It’s not “cancer”

  15. knoxvillenat - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    I wonder if the Nats would consider bringing Livo to ST just to show the pitchers how to properly drop a sac bunt? With all due respect to Jordan Z, who is pretty good himself, Livo was the best National I’ve ever seen at doing this.

    • zmunchkin - Jan 25, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      I agree on Livo’s bunting skills. But why limit his teaching it to the pitchers. For example, even a slow ALR could easily get to first on a bunt down the 3rd base line when the defense plays the shift.

  16. JayB - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Livo skill at bunting was not based on technique it was on moxey….he was just so cool up their…no worries…just playing ball like it’s fun

  17. karlkolchak - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    That Espinosa quote is troubling. Sounds like the relationship between Danny and the team has become very strained. I’ll be shocked if he is still with the organization at this time next year.

  18. JayB - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    uh….any time any of you want to say I was right about Danny the past 2 years just post up….he is a selfish players who does not care about the team and he hurts more than he ever helped.

    • David Proctor - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      Well, except you’re not right. He said he was told he’d get a fair chance. That’s fine, doesn’t mean he’s going to win it. He said he played with a broken wrist that was misdiagnoed. We’ve discussed ad nauseum here how terrible the Nats medical staff is. Nothing he said was selfish or wrong, it was all true.

      • therealjohnc - Jan 25, 2014 at 6:57 PM

        Let it go, David. You’ll never shake the narrative he’s constructed.

  19. JayB - Jan 25, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    I was amazed when they said he was invited to Natsfest….he is there to poison the water?

    • sjm308 - Jan 25, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      Ah JayB – you are at your finest when you can talk negativity!!
      I am also guessing you have no one in your family who has experienced the horrors of cancer.
      You can dislike a player, be my guest, but if he makes it, please post how wrong you were.
      I, for one am rooting for him to succeed so our team is better.
      You just want the worst case scenario because that is how you chose to root for your team.
      Can anyone remember when JayB led off a post with something positive? I sure can’t

      Go Nats and now just for JayB, Go Danny!

  20. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    One last thing, how do you know he is a jerk? Have you grown up next door? Did you go to school with him? Did he date your wife? Or is it that you just don’t like how he has performed on a baseball diamond so therefor he is a jerk? Did he pout when benched and later sent down? Yes he did. Does that make him a jerk? Did he try to play through two injuries? Yes he did, does that make him a jerk? Not sure how old you are but calling a 25 year old a jerk sure must bring you a lot of good feelings.

    My highest hopes for Danny were no more than our middle infield bench guy and I hope that happens. I want to see Rendon continue to improve but I am intrigued to see if Danny can bounce back. If he does, not only will our team be better but he would be someone who could actually bring value in a trade.

    Go Nats! Go Danny!

    • zmunchkin - Jan 25, 2014 at 4:30 PM

      Well said sjm. A return of the Danny from a couple of years ago makes the Nats a much better team.

      Any true fan would be rooting or him to succeed.

  21. peewilly - Jan 25, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    The Gio and Det show on the main stage at 11:15 was great. Gio really knows how to work a room. Det’s got that dry sense of humor, but he gets his needles in. Ross gave an update on his health…said he in the instructional league and his back and arm feel great. Last outing he threw around 85 pitches over 6 innings.

  22. unkyd59 - Jan 25, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    JB&KK… NOT knocking your fandom… I’ve been around here too long to think that you want anything less that the very best for this team… But Danny is young… You can’t be blind to his potential, and if he reaches that potential, well there are few developments that could be more positive for the team… With Spinner, Rendon, Desi, and Ryan in the mix, you would have GG level backup for every infield position, save 1B. If we were to start Zim at 1B, and the other three where you’d expect, they’d be almost unbelievably defensively, and pretty damn strong with the bats, as well… I just don’t get the “cancer” talk. Not everyone is gonna deal with frustration like an aged philosopher. As I said with Desi, a few years ago, it would take an idiot to just throw away a talent like that, while there’s a chance he fan get his (act) together… There’s no solid reason to declare that he won’t be one of the brightest of many stars on this team, over the next 10 years….

    I’m rioting for Danny!!! GYFNG!!!!!

    • unkyd59 - Jan 25, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      And rooting, as well…(sheesh!)

    • natsfan1a - Jan 26, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      Nooo, not the couches!! Eh, what the heck. Maybe it will help keep us all warm.

      “I’m rioting for Danny!!! GYFNG!!!!!”

      • unkyd59 - Jan 26, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        Heheh…. Not rooting for Spinner is nothing less than shortsighted and close minded. Lots of fellas stumble on their way to being highly productive. I’m not predicting anything… I just see most of what’s-his-name’s objections as being impressions…personal observations from afar, presented as settled fact. I’m just not buying it…..

      • natsfan1a - Jan 27, 2014 at 9:27 AM

        Nobody is reading this, I imagine, but for the record I wasn’t judging you for rooting. I was trying to make a [lame] rioting joke. :-)

        unkyd59 – Jan 26, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        Heheh…. Not rooting for Spinner is nothing less than shortsighted and close minded. Lots of fellas stumble on their way to being highly productive. I’m not predicting anything… I just see most of what’s-his-name’s objections as being impressions…personal observations from afar, presented as settled fact. I’m just not buying it…..

  23. JayB - Jan 25, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    Going to Natsfan fest and saying “IF” he gets a far shot….what does that mean….it means he does not trust the team and he feels they are playing the best players…….hiding injuries and refusing to make changes in your approach at the plate while your team in in the PLAYOFFs is being a jerk. Coming back the next year and doing it all over again but even worse and then blame the Nats medical staff…………….Yea that is what you do at a FANTEST event…..That is being a selfish jerk…….I am a cancer survivor by the way. Danny is a cancer in the truest sense of the word. He takes from the health body and is only there to benefit his interests

    • knoxvillenat - Jan 25, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      That is being a selfish jerk

      And you sir are quite annoying. More and more you are reminding me of a former poster here who apparently has gone away…….oh if such good fortune could only happen once again.

      • sjm308 - Jan 25, 2014 at 9:43 PM

        knoxville – for the first 100 or so rants from JayB, I kind of laughed, but I am thinking that he might find the Washington Post comments more to his liking as they tend to be about as negative as you can get.

  24. Candide - Jan 25, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Cunegonde and I were there. Didn’t see Danny or Stras.But I swear LeBron James was there, on the other side of the player photo area from where I was taking pictures. Got Matt Williams to autograph my Nats cap.

    I have a bunch of crappy pictures up on my Facebook page (only discovered I’d left my Nikon’s memory card home AFTER we got there, so had to use my camera) – does anyone know if it’s possible to link to them or post them here, for Faraz’s sake? Then someone can tell me if I’m nuts or not about LeBron being there…

    Hi ArVaFan!

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