The Washington Nationals have all reported to spring training and full practices are underway. Baseball is back. Sort of.
There is a different feel to spring training camp this season. Has much to do with expectations. The paradigm for the Nationals have shifted from an annual loser that is building to a winner expected to win, and win big. The good part for Nationals fans is the youth of the team, which bodes well for more than just 2013.
“That’s what’s great about this team,” Werth said. “It’s got a chance to be those guys for a long time. That’s how you win long-term. Guys play together. They win together. They go to war together. Chemistry plays, that’s for sure.”
It is more than just youth that is exciting about this team. It also personality and character that make this team exciting.
Here is a list of the current Nationals' players expected to make the 25 man roster that will be under contract with the Nationals for at least the next three seasons.
Since there are not any open roster spots, maybe just 2, to watch in spring training and pre-season, the aspect to watch will be the cohesion and chemistry of the late inning relief roles. The Nats already boasted Clip and Save, Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning and Drew Storen as closer, but in the off-season, GM Mike Rizzo bolstered the late inning relief even more, signing former Yankee closer Rafael Soriano. Soriano will be handed the closer role. That is a role not only coveted by Storen and Clippard, but held the last two seasons by both.
Storen comes to spring training with the right attitude, that be moved out of the closer role is just something that needs to be perservered, personally.
"It kind of caught me off guard," Storen says of the Soriano addition. "I just didn't know. You know what? I've dealt with plenty of adversity. You either get better from it or you get worse."
One reliever who has been impressive in the office season and the beginning of spring training is Cole Kimball. Kimball is returning from rotator cuff tear repair surgery. The Nats do not expect Kimball to make the opening day roster, but instead, expect him to handle closing duties at AAA Syracuse. Nonetheless, Kimball has impressed Nats' manager Davey Johnson.
“It’s a tribute to him, as hard as he worked, because I think he’s back,” Johnson said Sunday. “He’s certainly got a good future so we’ll be keeping a close eye on him but he’s been throwing exceptionally well,” Johnson said. “What I’m seeing is he’s throwing all his pitches, everyday. He’s showing a lot of arm strength and pretty good command of it.