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Nationals ready to play: 'It's been a while'

The Nationals are taking batting practice here at Osceola County Stadium, preparing for their first game of spring training. It's a day players have been looking forward to. "It's been a while," catcher Wil Nieves said while playing catch by the dugout.

Just a few quick notes to get to before first pitch. At that point, check out the chat for updates.

*Josh Willingham arrived in Viera last night and he's taking batting practice at Space Coast Stadium today. Jim Riggleman said the soonest Willingham is likely to get into a game is Monday. "He's in great shape," Riggleman said. "He looks great. It could be sooner, but I'm thinking get him four or five days of BP."

Riggleman also touched on Willingham's rest once the season starts. Willingham hit .153 over his final 131 at-bats with a .290 slugging percentage, leading Riggleman to believe maybe Willingham needed more days off during the year to rest his back. At a team function over the offseason, Riggleman shared his opinion with Willingham, who responded by telling him his back had never felt better. So, anyway, something to watch.

Riggleman also said Willingham will be the team's everyday five hitter behind Adam Dunn, but that he also could see potentially batting Ryan Zimmerman behind Dunn certain games to give Dunn more protection in the order.

*Although Drew Storen received experience in the minor leagues last year after being drafted,. the Nationals will take the same approach with him as Stephen Strasburg in regards to making the Opening Day roster. "It's similar," Riggleman said. "It's still going to be, do we feel like it's going to be better for him to go down there. Or, is he just so dominating we can't pass up the opportunity to start him out here with us? That time that he pitched last year, though, helps his cause. That's for sure."

*We've got about an hour until the first pitch from Astros starter Brett Myers. The lineups:

Nationals:
1. Nyjer Morgan, CF
2. Adam Kennedy, 2B
3. Elijah Dukes, RF
4. Chris Duncan, 1B
5. Pete Orr, 3B
6. Roger Bernadina, LF
7. Josh Whitesell, DH
8. Alberto Gonzalez, SS
9. Wil Nieves, C
-- Garrett Mock, SP

Astros
1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Kazuo Matsui, 2B
3. Hunter Pence, FR
4. Geoff Blum, 1B
5. Pedro Feliz, 3B
6. Jason Castro, DH
7. Jason Michaels, LF
8. JR Towles C
9. Tommy Manzella, SS
-- Brett Myers, SP

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 4, 2010; 12:11 PM ET
 
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Next: Catching up with Austin Kearns

Comments

It seems that the club sees the need to be cautious with Storen and hold him back until June to keep him from being a Super Two, I am surprised. I thought that they might break camp with him in order to generate some buzz about the new young arms, the value of their draft and such. Guess not.

Posted by: dfh21 | March 4, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo brought in veterans Bruney and Capps. Many (including outgoing Harlan Chico) figure Capps to collapse at some point. Leaving Bruney, Burnett and Clippard to hold down the fort. Enter Storen.

Plus it looks like SYR will be pretty stocked up with veterans this year. Even Livo could end up there.

Posted by: periculum | March 4, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I prefer this top of the order with Kennedy hitting 2nd rather than Guzman. It gives T-Plush more opportunities to do what he does--steal bases and generally get in the pitcher's head. Kennedy hits lefty and is a far more patient hitter than Guz (3x the BB, 40+ higher OBP), both very helpful for T-Plush.

Posted by: slewis1 | March 4, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Livan needs the job that bad.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 4, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

but J.D. Martin just got three more ground balls. Peric, your boy is looking interested in sticking around.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 4, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

@periculum

"Many (including outgoing Harlan Chico) figure Capps to collapse at some point."

Link(s) please, Harlan and/or otherwise.

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | March 4, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"Link(s) please, Harlan and/or otherwise."

... the sentiment (about Capps' longevity) expressed would seem to be supported by Chico's comments made in the audio on the latest Natmosphere in your Ear.

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 4, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Hunter Pence, FReak is right! That guy is an awesome player! But why the DH?

Posted by: poncedeleroy | March 4, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Chico Harlan thinks Capps will "collapse at some point"?You take him seriously when discussing baseball?

Posted by: seanmg | March 5, 2010 2:36 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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