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Full-squad workouts begin today

Feb 20, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

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VIERA, Fla. — Pitchers have thrown off the bullpen mounds, learned how to field comebackers and properly bunt. Catchers have taken batting practice, perfected the art of snagging pop-ups and run through countless conditioning drills.

Today, though, the real spring training begins. Nationals position players will take the field alongside the pitchers and catchers who have been working out alone the last five days. Sixty-two players in all will participate, and Matt Williams can’t wait.

“We get to get into the meat and potatoes of everything tomorrow, which is good,” the rookie manager said. “I’m excited about it. I think they are, too.”

There’s only so much that can be accomplished in pitcher and catcher workouts. Now, Williams will have the opportunity to gather everyone on one field and run through situational defensive drills, baserunning practice and live batting practice.

He’ll also get a better look and some key players trying to bounce back from injuries. Bryce Harper has deemed his surgically repaired knee 100 percent, but these workouts will provide a new test for the 21-year-old slugger. Adam LaRoche will begin the process of putting 2013 — a season that ended with minor elbow surgery — behind him. And Ryan Zimmerman will show just how strong his shoulder is … and whether his throwing woes from last season are officially a thing of the past.

The day will begin at 8:45 a.m., when Williams closes the doors of the Space Coast Stadium clubhouse and and conducts his first-full squad meeting as a big-league manager. Players will emerge shortly after that, trek to the practice fields down the road and take the first step toward a new baseball season.

  1. zmunchkin - Feb 20, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    Looking forward to today. Flew down last night and am going to wach them practice today and tomorrow :-).

    • ArVAFan - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      Awesome! We expect “fence posts” from you. And yes, it’s okay to make us jealous of the weather.

      • zmunchkin - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:02 AM

        Will do. But being a newbie here need to ask about fence posts: are they just observations and reports on things I see/like that I do as comments to Mark’s posts?

        And since I know you’ve been here ArVAFan, any advice on autographs? My wife works at the Nationals Dream Foundation Diabetes Center at Children’s and is hoping to get her Bobbleheads signed which she will then show in the display case in the waiting area there.

      • sjm308 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:06 AM

        Not to answer for ArVA but what I appreciated was when someone else on here asked a question or made a point that she had actually witnessed, she let us know what she had seen. It was like having our very own reporter.

      • ArVAFan - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:15 AM

        “Fence posts” is just my slang for observations from hanging around the bullpen and practice field fences. Mark, of course, has direct access to the players and coaches, as well as an entire year of his life watching Spring Training. So whatever you think might be interesting to the rest of us.

        As far as autographs, when the guys walk back from the practice fields to the vans to go back to the stadium, people line up along the rope to get their items signed. There’s a roped-off passage from the field where the stretching and exercises take place over to a gate where they get into the vans. The lady who sits at the table as you walk in (Susan) can give you the schedule of when they are likely to be signing, and what the scheduled drills are for that day. She doesn’t have a hand-out schedule, just the roster, so you have to kind of memorize it quickly, or watch what the other autograph seekers are doing. Get the roster–it really helps with all the newer players: it also lists the coaches who wear numbers.

        And yes, the pitchers are *learning* to bunt. Some of them appeared to be further along the learning curve than others, but they were all learning.

      • zmunchkin - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        Got Livo to sign my hat. He smiled when I told him I loved to see him bunt and hoped he was going to teach the kids how to do that.

  2. nats128 - Feb 20, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    Reading up on Tom Loverro calling Matt Williams a “kiss up” to the owners and I found the show.

    Click on this link then you have to scroll up

    Scroll up to this: 02-19-14 The Sports Fix Hour 2 (36:35)

    The discussion starts at the 32 minute mark.

    After that, listen to Mark’s 8 minute audio recap:

    • natinalsgo - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      That’s it. I hope Matt Williams listens to it.

    • Chazz - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      33rd Rule of Acquisition: It never hurts to suck up to the boss.

  3. Doc - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    ‘Catchers catching popups’ and ‘pitchers learning how to properly bunt’—-I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Let the season begin!!

    • zmunchkin - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:03 AM

      Hoping Livo is the instructor!

  4. sjm308 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Does anyone else sometimes take the time to reread Mark’s prose? I thought this was a short, succinct, and well written piece. I am sometimes in such a rush to get the basic gist of a piece that I probably skim but today it just hit me how excited I got after finishing that last paragraph. I think that is what writing is supposed to do.

    Hoping we get through these next 6 weeks with minimal drama, injuries etc but you know that won’t happen.

    Go Nats!!

  5. Eugene in Oregon - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Mark Zuckerman: How about adding an opening day countdown clock?

    • natinalsgo - Feb 20, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      Hard to believe 39 days and 3 hours 19 minutes to 1st pitch of Opening Day

  6. zmunchkin - Feb 20, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Practicing fielding bunts for pitchers. RZ bobbled first one then threw wide. Next one was picture perfect :-)

  7. zmunchkin - Feb 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Livo watching Garcia and Soriano pretty intently. Cracking a few smiles.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 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: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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