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Bright Lights, Lighter Players

There is perhaps only one day of the season when every last man in the clubhouse is clean-shaven. Well, except for Adam Dunn. And even he took care of the stubble around the goatee.

Yup, this was photo day. Players put on their home whites and headed from one lens to the next, posing for photo after photo -- the images you'll see this year on baseball cards, in newspapers, in MLB publications, on Web sites.

So long as we're talking headshots, I'll tell you about two guys whose faces show the benefit of offseason workouts. First, Ronnie Belliard. Second, Ryan Zimmerman.

Belliard showed up to spring training this year looking, minimum, about 10 pounds lighter -- though he wouldn't specify his current weight, because he doesn't care, and because he plans to keep losing more. (His secret: He stopped eating food late at night, he said.)

Then there's Zimmerman, whose face is noticeably leaner than before, and who is entirely without paunch. "He worked very hard, not only with his nutrition, but the strength and conditioning guy he works with, and you can tell just by his face," Manager Manny Acta said. "There's no more baby fat... He shaped up or firmed up more than in the past. He was highly motivated during the offseason. I had a conversation with him in December and he was boasting to me how he was in his best shape ever, and how he was ready to start spring training -- I mean, we're talking about right after Christmas. So he really pumped me up when you have your best player basically coming out and getting ready to go to spring training in January."

A few other updates.

* The team still has heard nothing from holdout P Odalis Perez. The mandatory report date for players is tomorrow, so this should come to a head soon.

* Jason Bergmann this morning noticed a discrepancy in official team documentation. His permanent residence, he told a team official, is Viera, Fla. Not Glen Mills, Pa., as stated. His age and name were listed accurately on the roster.

* Daniel Cabrera, Roger Bernadina and Shairon Martis have all decided to skip the WBC and remain with the Nationals during camp. Cabrera would have represented the Dominican Republic; Bernadina and Martis would have represented the Netherlands. Saul Rivera, also on the 40-man roster (who has the chance to play for Puerto Rico) is still undecided if he will play, he said today.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 21, 2009; 2:43 PM ET
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Next: Rijo Takes Leave Of Absence


... OP is a decent pitcher and would be a good guy to have around. But if he doesn't want the Nats, well then, the answer is clear. Don't waste precious time on him when there are other guys who maybe deserve more attention.

See you later!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 21, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse is reporting that Jose Rijo is taking a leave of absence from the team so as not to be a "distraction" because of the Gonzalez/Lugo situation. Has anyone explored why Rijo was allowed to own the Dominican facility instead of the team? That seems like a blatant conflict-of-interest.

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 21, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"Jason Bergmann this morning noticed a discrepancy in official team documentation. His permanent residence, he told a team official, is Viera, Fla. Not Glen Mills, Pa., as stated. His age and name were listed accurately on the roster."

Chico - I liked the last sentence. By the way, those little yellow stickers with the "Smiley face" in the offices at Nats Park have been replaced with stickers with no face. (just kidding).

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 21, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone explain these?

Nats' confessional?

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 21, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

leetee, correct. Rijo left yesterday.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 21, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Don't know who's in the photo, but here's a caption for it.

"Forgive me Mr. Lerner, for I have sinned. It has been three years since I last confessed, and in that time, I have lied about my age, signed legal documents under a name other than my own, and taken money under false pretenses as a result. I have also asked my family to share in those falsehoods, in order to gain financial benefit".

Posted by: BinM | February 21, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

If correct, Rijo is a "dead man walking" as far as MLB is concerned. I wonder if he'll take the full fall, or if others will go down with him?

Posted by: BinM | February 21, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I understand and have to respect the decisions of those three players. However, I find it disappointing on several levels. I think it would be good for any player to challenge themselves in such high-flight competition. I am more disappointed by what this signals for the WBC.

The idea of the WBC is an excellent one. Baseball simply needs to find a way to make the WBC work -- to interest the best players, and the hungry young ones trying to earn major league roster spots, too. Perhaps, it does need to be after the season. It could substitute for the Caribbean Series every 4th year.

Posted by: fischy | February 21, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm actually okay with our players not playing in the WBC, considering what happened with Ayala.

Not sure about my memory on this, leetee, but I was thinking that Rijo's ownership of the facility dated from prior to his association with the Nats.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 21, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

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