Today is the official day for pitchers and catchers to report for the Nationals, although most of them, including position players are already in Viera, Florida training for the upcoming season. With baseball officially taking off for the 2012 season, there’s a few notes to cover in just the first couple hours of camp starting.
Mike Cameron, who agreed to a minor league deal with the Nationals back in December has decided to retire after 17 years. Cameron would have most likely played in right and center, however, even with his retirement the Nationals aren’t void of outfield options.
The team signed Rick Ankiel to a Minor League contract earlier in February which included an invitation to Spring Training. And of course, there’s the questions of Bryce Harper (where he’ll start and if he’ll even make the big league club), Jayson Werth and Roger Bernadina. In addition, Mark DeRosa, who signed in the off season, could be played in right field.
Also, probably much to the reassurance of the Nationals and the fans, Stephen Strasburg is healthy and ready to go. The 23-year-old pitcher says, “When I go out there and throw, it feels so much more natural now than it did coming off the surgery. My mind’s a lot clearer. I just go out there and throw the baseball. I don’t think as much about the mechanics or anything. I don’t feel myself holding back a little bit. I just let it go.”
Lastly (for now), with the beginning of Spring Training and no contract extension yet reached for cornerstone player, Ryan Zimmerman, it seems to appear that the talks will be halted for now. Zimmerman, as a leader of the clubhouse (even at a young 27), is ready to stay a National and bring winning baseball back to DC.
“Hopefully, I’m going to be here until however long they’re going to let me play here. You get to watch things go from losing 100 games every year pretty much undoubtedly to having a chance to make the playoffs, being a team people are talking about. It’s only going to get better.”
The Nationals will have numerous decision to make entering Spring Training and moving up to Opening Day, but dilemmas such as deciding between an overcrowded rotation of quality starters isn’t too bad of a problem to have in many senses.