You knew it would be a dominating topic during at least the early part of Spring Training. And the Gio Gonzalez link to Biogenesis clinic in Miami has been a hot topic. First, the Miami news published a report that linked four major leaguers, including Gio Gonzalez to Biogenesis, and thus, performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). That night, Gio issued a vehement denial via his twitter account. The first day of Spring Training, he then issued another vehement denial, this time speaking directly to the press. Gonzalez acknowledged that his father purchased weight loss products from the clinic, but that he had never had any contact and had never purchased anything from the clinic.
Gonzalez's vehement denials now seem to be supported as ESPN reported yesterday that new documents link over 20 more major leaguers to the clinic, but that Gio Gonzalez never purchased any PEDs. That lines up with Gio's selection by Joe Torre to Team USA for the World Baseball Clinic. The prevailing thought is that Torre, who is an MLB executive that would be in position to know MLB's stance, would not have selected Gio if a suspension was forth coming. Now, it appears likely that MLB will not dole out discipline to Gio considering the new documents confirm his denial. Fact is, Gio has never tested positive in any drug tests he has taken with major league baseball.
Yesterday, Gonzalez responded to the report that seemingly exonerates him from purchasing PEDs.
“I’m going to be honest with you guys, I haven’t heard anything yet officially from MLB,” Gonzalez said to a group of reporters. “I do plan on sitting down and cooperating with them. I want to get this all done already, before the season starts. This is all new to me, guys. I do look plan on getting ready. Looking forward to spring training. I feel confident this is going to come out good.”
Federal Baseball provides an update on Stephen Strasburg and Ross Detwiler. Both faced live hitters for the first time in spring training yesterday. Mark Zuckerman writes that Strasburg was dominating live batting practice.
Bloguin partner site Nats Blog previews the Nationals starting pitching.
Here is video of Bryce Harper's Under Armour commercial.
As we have written several times this off-season, the Nationals roster is loaded, not just in terms of starters, but in depth as well. The prevailing thought out there is that the maximum of just 2 rosters spots on the 25 man roster may be up for grabs. The blessing of outstanding depth is also a curse for Manager Davey Johnson, because of the quality of depth, these guys want playing time as well.
“Nobody in that lineup wants out,” Johnson said. “That’s one of the concerns. It’s one thing to have a talented bench and they’re veterans. They can handle more sitting time, then come off and be productive. But it’s more difficult for a young player to sit. In their mind’s eye, I’ve got two or three sitting over there that think they should be playing.”
Don't knock it. It is a problem every single manager in baseball would love to have.
Christian Garcia is dealing with some injury issues early in Spring Training. He is dealing with some stomach illness problems and elbow tightness. Garcia has had two Tommy John surgeries in the past, but confident, given where the tightness is located, that it is unrelated to that area.
“It’s not typical. I’ve never had it,” Garcia said. “But where it’s located – the important stuff, here and here” – Garcia tapped his right elbow and shoulder – “that feels great. It’s early. In a couple days, I’ll be back at it. That’s what I’m hoping.”
More from CSN on Garcia's issues.
Jayson Werth responded to comments made by Phillies 3B Jimmy Rollins that the Nats finished in first because the Phillies were hurt.
"I would never find Jimmy Rollins disrespectful," he said. "I respect him too much. But if we were healthy all year, we might have won 120 games. But we'll have a chance to find out this year."
So did Strasburg.
"Injuries are a part of baseball," he said. "You don't know who's going to get it. We battled with it, too, all of last year. I think the thing that makes us such a great team is our depth. We had a guy who could step in when any one of our guys went down."
As the Philadelphia article points out, what Jimmy Rollins missed was the fact that the Nats just have a better overall roster. Nats suffered injuries as well, but their depth is simply better than Philadelphia, let along their starters. Fact is, the Phils are getting old and appear set to play second fiddle to Washington and Atlanta in the National League East. But, we shall see. Anything can happen in baseball.
Here is some speculation on Yankees' infielder Robinson Cano. He is a Scott Boras client, so you know the Nationals have to be named a possibility, according to this article. Yanks are trying to workout a long term deal with Cano, but if they can't, he will hit the free agency market in 2014. Pretty far ahead speculation. I suspect, even though he is a Boras client, the Nationals will possibly look at Anthony Rendon at second base if Espinosa struggles.
Speaking of Espinosa, manager Davey Johnson likes the new approach of Espinosa at the plate. Even with that, Steve Lombardozzi seems well positioned to challengee Espinosa for playing time. Lobardozzi is not just taking the role of depth, he made clear he will fight to start.
“I want to be an every-day guy,” Lombardozzi said yesterday, when I interviewed him for a story on the Nationals’ bench. “I’m fighting to be the starting second baseman. That’s where my head is at now. I know we all want to play, but we all want to win, too. We want to make it to the playoffs and go all the way this year. I know I can speak for Tyler [Mooe], too. We want to help this team win.”
These kind of competitions will only make the Nationals a better ball club. Same goes for the position of catcher. When Wilson Ramos is ready to resume full time catching duties; he will face a battle with late season acquisition and hero Kurt Suzuki.
Given the expectations and the loaded Nats roster, Thom Loverro wrirtes on how different spring training is this year from years past.
And the recent success and expectations has the minority owners of the Nationals pelased.
Here is an article on whether the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals have a rivalry. Is the sharing of a beltway enough? The fact there are only six games between the two clubs likely stops anythign from progressing to rivalry status. Let's face it, playing the Orioles does generate fan emotions like playing Atlanta or Philadelphia. It just doesn't.
Some prospects Notes: Byron Kerr writes on the roster for accelerated development camp. Two stud pitchers that faced Tommy John surgeries are on that list, 2012 first rounder Lucas Giolito and 2010 second rounder Sammy Solis. Mor eon the accelerated development roster from Nationals Prospects.
Kerr also writes from a center field perspective, the Nats are in pretty good shape in their youth. Nats acquired Denard Span in the off-season to patrol the middle outfield. It was an upgrade the Nats have been seeking for a few seasons. Prospect wise, Brian Goodwin and Eury Perez aren't ready, but may be in two years when Span's contract expires. The Nats will keep a close eye on both outfielders this season. Perez has really come ont he last two seasons. However, another younger prospect out of the 2012 Draft to keep an eye on is BillyBurns. The kid can hit and has a helluva motor. Last season at Hagerstown, Burns batted .322 with 38 stolen bases. More on the Top 100 propects from Baseball America at District Sports Page.