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Nationals hold first full squad workout

The Nationals gathered as a complete team for the first time this morning in their clubhouse, forming a rectangular ring in their lockers around Stan Kasten, Mike Rizzo, and Jim Riggleman. Each of those three spoke to the team, in that order. Rizzo had never addressed a team as general manager at the open of spring training before. He spoke the shortest -- "my two-minute rant," he said later -- and delivered the primary imperatives of this season.

"We're putting 2009 behind us," Rizzo said. "Our expectation is to win. The players should be focused to win, prepare to win, and expect to win."

From his time in Viera around the players, Rizzo had developed a sense that the team he assembled already adopted those feelings. "I just wanted to make sure they heard it from me," he said. "With the aura of Pudge [Rodriguez] in camp and the attitude of [Jason] Marquis and [Adam] Kennedy and those veteran guys, there really has been a different attitude. We're all tired of losing. We're all tired of talking about 100-loss seasons and No. 1 picks. You have to believe you can win before you start winning. I think that has taken place."

Riggleman spoke the longest and spoke last, and he added a theme -- "attention to detail," he said. When the Nationals first stood around Riggleman on an infield, Riggleman explained the proper execution of bunt defense. The Nationals made an outrageous 143 errors last season, and Riggleman feels it is his job to prevent a similarly ghastly total this season.

When he spoke to players, Kasten emphasized "the heightened level of excitement" surrounding the club and acknowledged the raised expectations that come with that. It is easy for any team to speak about expecting to win more this time of year, but with the Nationals it feels uniquely true. At this point last season, with the Nationals ready to embark on a 103-loss season, their general manager was under investigation and their pitching staff was comprised almost wholly of question marks.

"Last year was about the worst possible vibe you could have," Kasten said.

"It just feels different because of the personnel around me," reliever Jason Bergmann said. "More than last year, more than the year before that, I believe in this team. Everything seems stable. Every year, there's been an issue. This year it's strictly about baseball."

A couple quick notes: At the workout, all players, aside from new father Josh Willingham, were accounted for. Afterward, the Nationals had another meeting warning about the pitfalls of new social media, which included a video collage of "missteps" athletes have made using Twitter, Facebook, etc.

By Adam Kilgore  |  February 26, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
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Next: Kasten: "We can't ever have excuses"


And they're off!

Gee, I wonder if the pointy-ball team's Little Cooley made the "misstep" presentation?

Posted by: NatsFly | February 26, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"which included a video collage of "missteps" athletes have made using Twitter, Facebook, etc."

Dear God, Kilgore, that must find a way of appearing on new social media...

Posted by: Section506 | February 26, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Captain Crash is way out of control at times ...

I would expect that Mr. Bowden's most recent video chapter on how-to-be-a-GM in today's baseball made that presentation? But, based on what I've seen here I doubt that any of the wives and SO'sof the current motley group of Natinals would ever stoop to that ... unless Kent Benson were signed ...

Posted by: periculum | February 26, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

video collage of "missteps" athletes have made using Twitter, Facebook, etc.

And now here is 30 minutes of wang, no no I don't mean you C-M W. Please sit back down.

Posted by: alex35332 | February 26, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

143 errors was what was recorded, not to mention the many guffaws and snafus that didn't go down in the books as errors, those mental lapses and such. They'll need to show a marked improvement in those categories as well, and I feel they will.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 26, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

While we're on the subject of Errors, I find it curious only defensive errors are recorded. All the running errors are not. There are several instances of even announcers screaming at bone-headed running plays. Actually, hitting too. I'd put down bunts when you catch your own runners by surprise, or missing a hit and run to be errors. But those are not recorded...

Posted by: swang30 | February 26, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

>>Boz put enough of the onus on ownership to cause Stan K seek him out to protest. Posted by: periculum

Please explain.

Posted by: dovelevine | February 26, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Bos's Q&A earlier this week. Go about midway down, or search for $25 Million.

Posted by: swang30 | February 26, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Adam, great job with the Journal so far - I'm liking the videos! Thanks!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | February 26, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse


I meant you should read the whole answer, not just the part after the search term. The search term was just an convenient thing that stuck in my head after reading it.

Posted by: swang30 | February 26, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I love rectangles.

Posted by: Cartaldo | February 26, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse


From Boz's chat:

"Tom Boswell: I felt the same way -- a great first half of the offseason and a disappointing second half. Stan Kasten just hunted me down while I was chatting to complain about my being too harsh to ownership. I told him that I might have been one level too harsh this morning ... or maybe not. (If the worst thing I ever do is say that an ownership with a net worth of $3-billion should put another few million into the payroll into a team that lost 102 and 103, back-to-back, in a new publicly financed ballpark, then I can live with that.)"

"The big disappointment isn't anybody's fault because the Nats did a great job of keeping a secret -- Chapman. "Someone" just told me, in grouchy voice that, "We offered him $25 million, not $23 million." Amazing how a little criticism brings out greater specificity in responses. Nobody in baseball thought anybody -- much less the Reds!!?? -- would offer Chapman $30 million. The Nats really thought they'd get him -- unlike Teixeira, whom they knew was a longshot. The industry seems to buy the notion that the Nats were a strong second in that chase. The Lerners certainly get credit for that."

My take on the Boz's Lerner perspective: They are still too cheap, frugal, cautious ... etc. but the appear to be improving as a direct result of Mike Rizzo's ascendancy to GM. We can only hope that continues.

Posted by: periculum | February 26, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I knew our defense was terrible last year, but 143 errors. If I was a pitcher on that, I'd be in jail now for murder. That's 143 times last season our pitchers had to get FOUR outs in an inning.

Posted by: MBUSA | February 26, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-WOW!! Spring Training AND 506 back in the mix! Welcome home-hope yer new wife appreciates your place here in the "Nat-ion".....

Posted by: zendo | February 26, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

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