Feb 20, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
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.
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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