Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Expect Dan Haren To Be More Than A Mentor; Stephen Strasburg To Start Grapefruit League Opener vs NY Mets

USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters on Monday about what he expects from 32-year-old right-hander Dan Haren in 2013. Though he adds a veteran presence, the 10-year major leaguer is in D.C. to win games.

The big news out of Viera, Florida on Monday? Stephen Strasburg will start the Washington Nationals' Grapefruit League opener on Saturday when the Nats take on the New York Mets on the road in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field. 12:10 pm EST on Saturday... on the MLB Network... the big story out of the Nats' ST facilities on Monday? The Dan Haren story...

Davey Johnson liked what he saw from 32-year-old right-hander Dan Haren in the newest Nats' starter's first bullpen sessions, telling reporters this past Friday, "I was impressed with Dan Haren. He threw the ball very well. I told him, 'Don't peak too early.' His stuff was really good. He's got great command. All the guys threw pretty good. I was impressed. But Haren stood out." Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on Monday that though the 10-year veteran has plenty of wisdom to share with the Nats' young starters, that's not the no.1 reason he was signed to a 1-year/$13M dollar deal this winter.

"[Haren's] value to me is that he's a capable, mid-to-upper rotation starting pitcher," Rizzo said, "And he gives you veteran leadership, clubhouse presence and a guy who's been around and greatly successful for years to come. But we didn't get him here and pay him to be a mentor for other starters. We brought him to be a real contributor in the rotation and we feel that a healthy Dan Haren is going to revert back to the previous Dan Haren, and that's what we're looking for."

The previous Dan Haren, as recently as 2011, had a 3.17 ERA, a 2.98 FIP, 33 walks (1.25 BB/9) and 192 Ks (7.25 K/9) in 35 games (34 starts) and 238.1 IP for the LA Angels in a +6.1 fWAR season, finishing 5th overall in fWAR amongst MLB pitchers, tied with the Texas Rangers' then-31-year-old lefty C.J. Wilson, who joined Haren in the Angels' rotation that winter on a 5-year/$77.5M dollar deal. While struggling with back issues in the first half of the 2012 season, Haren wasn't himself, but he had a much better second half and he's reportedly 100% at the start of Spring Training this time around.

"Dan's here because he's a terrific major league starting pitcher," Rizzo told reporters, "and with that, the fortunate thing for us is that he's a great guy, a great teammate and a guy who is willing to mentor young pitchers, but he's here for one thing, to produce as a major league starter."

Haren was the subject of two of the BIG STORIES in today's link post. Links and lots of them... starting... RIGHT NOW!!!

• THE BIG STORY!!! (Today In Two Parts):

• "A few know how delighted the Nats are to see Haren in their midst. 'He’s absolutely fearless,' said Kurt Suzuki, who caught him on the A’s in ’07." - "2013 Nationals hope Dan Haren rebounds in a big way" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• "'The biggest part of it was just the opportunity to win,' Haren said of coming to Washington." - "Right-hander Dan Haren is hoping to command attention with the Nationals" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• NATS BEAT:

• "'His value to me is that he's a capable mid-to-upper rotation starting pitcher,' Rizzo said. 'We didn't get him here and pay him to be a mentor for our starters.'" - "Haren looking to do more than mentor young Nats" - Carl Kotala, AP/WTOP.com

• "[Stephen] Strasburg is one of the most breathtaking pitchers in the majors because of the mind-bending pathways his pitches travel." - "The adjustment Stephen Strasburg wants to make" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Christian] Garcia isn't about to question the Nats' dedication to his health now, not after they took a flier on him in 2011 following his second Tommy John and helped him work back to this point." - "Nationals Pastime: More on the Christian Garcia dilemma" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Unfortunately for [Christian] Garcia, his medical records do most of the talking in answering that question. Two Tommy John surgeries, four years apart." - "Christian Garcia hopes to repay Nationals' faith, whether in bullpen or rotation" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The one consensus about Christian Garcia within Nationals spring training, and it was easy to reach, concerns the quality of his stuff." - "How should the Nationals use Christian Garcia?" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Stephen Strasburg won't have to wait long to put last year's shutdown controversy behind him and turn attention to his performance this season." - "Strasburg will start Grapefruit League opener" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "Meanwhile, catcher Wilson Ramos continues to make strides in his recovery from a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, catching back-to-back bullpen sessions today." - "Nationals Pastime: Strasburg to start Nats' spring opener (plus Ramos note)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Manager Davey Johnson outlined the top of the Nationals’ spring training rotation, which will start with ace Stephen Strasburg pitching Saturday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie." - "Stephen Strasburg will start Nationals’ first Grapefruit League game" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "VIDEO: Strasburg comes to grips with shutdown" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "There was an interesting bunch of minor leaguers hitting in a group on Monday with Anthony Rendon, Matt Skole, Micah Owings and Zach Walters in one group and Chris Marrero headlining another." - "Notes from the Nationals workout: Henry Rodriguez, Ryan Mattheus & more" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The Washington Nationals are short on underdogs and experiments this spring, but [Micah] Owings counts as both." - "Former pitcher Micah Owings trying to become a full-time position player" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

VIDEO: Denard Span Says Hello To D.C.:


• "AUDIO: Nats players bigger as spring training starts" - Washington Times' Amanda Comak w/ WTOP.com

• "Catcher Kurt Suzuki was behind the plate for [Rafael] Soriano's bullpen and was impressed with what he saw and how smooth Soriano looked for not getting into camp until Saturday." - "Nats Blog: Johnson names starters for first spring games" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "After the session ended, manager Davey Johnson had a conversation with Soriano and decided the 33-year-old will not pitch in any Grapefruit League games until the second week of the spring season." - "Soriano appears sharp in first bullpen with Nats" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Chris] Marrero has endured a broken leg in 2008 and a torn hamstring the winter before last season. He finally feels healthy, and it shows." - "Mike Rizzo thinks the Nationals are in shape, and other notes" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Danny] Espinosa faces a similar set of questions with one tricky addition: Is he healthy? And can he stay that way all season?" - "Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa in middle of everything for Nationals" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "After wrapping up his session, Soriano had a brief chat with bullpen coach Jim Lett. [Kurt] Suzuki then approached the mound, and jokingly told Soriano to untuck his jersey..." - "Nationals Pastime: Soriano impresses in first bullpen session as a National" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The 33-year-old reliever told manager Davey Johnson he needs only 8-to-10 innings of work this spring and needs to pitch on back-to-back days only once before Opening Day." - "Soriano takes it easy in first bullpen" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Rafael Soriano climbed the mound in a Washington Nationals uniform on Monday, throwing to Kurt Suzuki in his first bullpen session and taking things slow." - "Rafael Soriano throws first bullpen session as a member of the Nationals" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Rafael] Soriano is a few days behind the rest of the Nationals’ pitching staff because of the visa issue that delayed his arrival, but the Nationals are not concerned in the slightest..." - "Rafael Soriano throws his first bullpen session" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Manager Davey Johnson is optimistic [Wilson] Ramos will be ready for Opening Day, when he is expected to serve as the backup to Kurt Suzuki." - "Ramos makes progress behind plate for bullpens" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Matt] Skole has come up as a third baseman, but his 6-foot-4, 230-lb. frame has led some to wonder whether he'd be better served playing first base in the future." - "Nationals Pastime: Rizzo on Garcia's role, Skole's progress, Rodriguez's health" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Though the Nationals won't make Ramos dial things back at all, they do want him to maintain a measured pace to his spring." - "Ramos ramping up workload" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "[Wilson] Ramos has already begun to conquer what was admittedly his biggest fear: blocking." - "Nationals notes: Wilson Ramos expected to be ready by Opening Day" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Both Manager Davey Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo said they have no doubt Ramos, barring a setback, will be ready for opening day." - "Wilson Ramos making progress, will ‘definitely’ be ready for opening day" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Matt] Skole will likely be teammates this year with outfielder Brian Goodwin and third baseman Anthony Rendon at Double-A Harrisburg." - "Skole impresses early in first big league camp" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "'When you're not doing good, you realize how bad you want it,' [Dan] Haren said. 'Pitchers who are successful at this level, you've got to have that fire in you.'" - "Haren looking to do more than mentor young Nats" - AP/Boston Herald

• "When Sports Illustrated's website came out with its spring-training power rankings earlier this month, the Nationals and Braves were the top two teams..." - "Inside the Phillies: Phillies aim to build on last year's strong finish" - Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer

• "Gio Gonzalez had intended to come along, but announced he is staying with the Washington Nationals, at least for now. He might be added should Team USA make it to the second round in Florida..." - "Joe Torre ready to manage Team USA in World Classic" - AP/USA Today

• NATSTOWN:

• "Projecting the 2013 Nationals: Extra Innings" - Ouij, Natstradamus

• "Baseball America Reviews Nats’ International Signs" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "Don't be surprised to see [Stephen] Strasburg pushing himself further into games. He wants to pitch more innings and go deeper into games." - "Things to watch for with the limitless Strasburg" - Justin Hunter, MLB Injury News

• "Check out photos of the famous mascots ice skating at Main Street Square." - "PHOTOS: Washington Nationals' Racing Presidents" - Rapid City Journal

• "If you were hoping that the Washington Nationals would tone done the Racing Presidents following last season’s long-awaited victory by the Theodore Roosevelt character you are probably disappointed." - "Nats Presidents Race bigger than ever with William Howard Taft added" - William F. Yurasko, William World New

• "Oh, sure, expectations are sky high for the Washington Nationals; but two days into full-squad workouts and not a single player quoted in the media as being in the best shape of his life?" - "Mike Rizzo says Nationals are in shape. But are they in the best shape of their lives?" - Nats Enquirer

• "It is chilly afternoon, the calendar is open to the date of 8 May 1891. Not a lot of spectators pay attention to the young 21 year old pitcher about to take his place in the box." - "Perceptions, a Young Rookie Comes to Town" - Karen and Kevin Flynn, D.C. Baseball History

• "Washington Nationals Spring Training Photo Gallery" - District Sports Page

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "In an impassioned speech yesterday before the team’s first full-squad workout of spring training, the manager warned his players that winning is expected, regardless of the outside perception the Mets have too many holes to compete in 2013." - "Mets manager’s message: You’re among the elite" - Mike Puma, NYPOST.com

Braves: "Braves hitters struck out a franchise-record 1,289 times in 2012, and manager Fredi Gonzalez knows they could whiff even more after adding outfielders B.J. and Justin Upton..." - "Braves lineup: Much power, many whiffs" - David O'Brien, www.ajc.com

Marlins: "The first big non-event of spring was more notable for onlookers than the participants. The highlight was [Mike] Stanton facing No. 1 prospect Jose Fernandez in a pseudo-showdown of Marlins present vs. Marlins future." - "Miami Marlins: Pitchers have upper hand in first test with hitters" - Craig Davis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

Phillies: "From 2006-10, a five-year span, the Phillies laid claim to one of the most prolific offenses in Major League Baseball." - "Phillies Will Lack Plate Discipline in 2013" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley

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