Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' Davey Johnson On The Nats' NL East Rivals; More Bryce Harper Hype

Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson talked about the defending NL East Champions' competition within the division, joking about the Miami Marlins the Nats face today in Spring Training action and breaking down the rest of the teams that could threaten the defense of the Nationals' first division title.

Davey Johnson isn't taking any of the competition in the NL East lightly. The Washington Nationals' 70-year-old skipper broke down the division yesterday in a conversation with reporters. "I don't look at anybody as no weak sister," Johnson said, "Obviously, Philadelphia and Atlanta, what they've done over the last decade, you have to say those are the teams you've got to beat in the division. But, the other teams, we had our problems with the Marlins last year. I look at all of them as tough competitors." Asked about the new-look Miami roster this morning, Johnson joked that he's still getting to know all the new Marlins. "I'm still trying to learn their names," the Nationals' manager said, "But they've got some big, young athletes and show some ability, so I was just looking at the lineup today, [they] have a bunch of guys hitting real well. But, I'm not even sure what position the names are going in. But we play them a number of times, we should get to to know them." The manager's second chance to get to know the Marlins takes place this afternoon when the Nationals take on the NL East rivals at home in Space Coast Stadium. Dan Haren makes his first start of the Spring today too. It's on the radio on 1580 AM in D.C. and MLB Gameday Audio. Til then it's links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!:

• "The Nationals are the reigning champion in the NL East and heavily favored to repeat. But they know defending will not be easy." - "The Nationals’ toughest NL East challenger: Phillies or Braves?" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

NATS BEAT:

• "The Nationals‘ doctors won’t clear Ramos to play in games, even as a designated hitter, until he is cleared to slide." - "Nationals notes: Sliding is final hurdle in Wilson Ramos' return" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Wilson] Ramos, working his way back from tearing his right ACL in May of last season, says his knee has improved from about 80 to 95 percent since he arrived at camp..." - "Sliding remains last hurdle for recovering Ramos" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "The only baseball activity he has yet to do this spring is slide, and Ramos expected to check that off the list today." - "Wilson Ramos plans to make latest step by sliding" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "It would be easy to disregard Ross Detwiler's spring debut as a worthless Grapefruit League game against the Braves, an outing that Detwiler could toss aside as soon as he left the mound." - "Nationals Pastime: Detwiler discusses his debut (Nats lose 9-5)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "On Tuesday, despite the fact that it was his first start of the spring, [Ross] Detwiler was tested. " - "Ross Detwiler pleased with first spring start" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "'It's always a little weird being out there for the first time with people around you and no screen in front of you,' [Ross] Detwiler said." - "Detwiler OK but Nats lose to Braves" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "'Any time if you try to set a schedule in stone they're gonna mess with it,' [Ross] Detwiler joked. 'You can't ever have the mentality that it's gonna get canceled.'" - "Detwiler happy to get in work before Classic" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "If [Ross] Detwiler was looking for a good tune-up for his scheduled March 9 appearance in the WBC, he couldn't have asked for a better opportunity..." - "Good tune-up for Detwiler before WBC" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "Last year, [Ross] Detwiler threw a first-pitch strike to 60.5 percent of the batters he faced, which ranked 53rd out of 88 qualified major league starters." - "Ross Detwiler tested in first start against the Braves" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Ross] Detwiler's outing wasn't perfect, but he was pretty solid over his 2 2/3 innings. The left-hander threw 41 pitches and struck out two, allowing two runs on five hits." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson talks Detwiler, Harper, Perry" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Ryan] Mattheus has plenty of motivation to perfect that sinker on the other corner, because he knows he's going to be asked to face more left-handed hitters this season than in the past." - "Mattheus adjusting to new role vs. lefties" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "[Ryan] Mattheus, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen and Henry Rodriguez combined to hold left-handed batters to a .207 batting average last season..." - "Ryan Mattheus, fellow Nats bullpen right-handers won't be left out" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Steve] Lombardozzi has also been playing a lot because of Johnson’s reluctance to lean heavily on Danny Espinosa early, too." - "Why Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore are playing so much now; injury updates" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "VIDEO: Storen and Clippard's new role" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "'[Matt] Skole is making strides,' [Mark] Scialabba said. 'He has power to all fields. He can play third base and first base. At the plate, he is getting good back spin on his ball and has a good eye.'" - "Nationals' top prospects fortified by 'second wave' of talent" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Bryce Harper led the Nationals with three hits, including a double off Mike Minor in Washington's two-run first inning." - "Harper goes 3-for-3 with two doubles in loss" - Mark Bowman, nationals.com: News

• "‘What am I doing out of the lineup? I want in the lineup,’ [Bryce] Harper said, according to [Davey] Johnson." - "Bryce Harper on a tear, already petitioning to stay in the lineup" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "[Bryce] Harper isn't trying to convince team officials he deserves a spot on the Opening Day roster like he did the previous two springs. His job is as secure as anyone's on the club..." - "Red-hot Harper doesn't need a break" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "'I thought having Denard [Span] in center and [Jayson] Werth in right and then putting me out there, our outfield set together (would be good),' [Bryce] Harper said." - "Bryce Harper opens spring on a tear, talks his way into Wednesday's lineup" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "But in the fifth, facing a lineup consisting mostly of Braves minor leaguers, [RYan] Perry got smacked around pretty good." - "Nationals Pastime: Perry roughed up by the Braves' bench" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "While [Davey] Johnson has been fairly staunch about resting his veterans in the first week of Spring Training games, he's been equally committed to getting his new-look outfield acclimated with playing together." - "Nationals outfielders Denard Span, Bryce Harper tested early" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "[Dan] Haren got an extra day of rest in between that live batting practice and his next bullpen session, which was Sunday, but it will be interesting to see how he approaches his outing today." - "Nationals Pastime: It's only spring training, but Harper wants in" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "After the weather cleared, the Nationals got their first up-close look at the Braves’ vaunted new outfield." - "Nationals’ bid to repeat as National League East champs should be challenged by Braves and Phillies" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "'I don't look at anybody as a weak sister,' [Davey] Johnson said of the NL East. 'Obviously, Philadelphia and Atlanta, with what they've done over the last decade...'" - "Nationals aware of threat Braves pose" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

VIDEO: "Spring Training Sights: Pitchers":


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

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "'They made some moves,' said Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa, speaking of the Atlanta Braves. 'And they were a very talented team to start with.'" - "Nationals and Braves were good; now both are better" - Mark Bradley, Baseball Wires - MiamiHerald.com

• "'They made some moves,' said Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa, speaking of the Atlanta Braves. 'And they were a very talented team to start with.'" - "Nationals and Braves were good; now both are better" - Mark Bradley, Baseball Wires - MiamiHerald.com

• "The Braves had a major hole to fill after Chipper Jones retired, but general manager Frank Wren moved boldly to make up what was lost — and then some." - "Nats vs. Braves Has All the Makings of Long Rivalry" - Dan Morrison, CBS DC

• "Bryce Harper is 6-for-8 so far in the Grapefruit League and 'taking extra bases at will'" - Drew Silva, HardballTalk

• NATSTOWN:

• "Well, I am on the ground for my seventh spring in Viera, where last week’s cold snap is now a distant memory and sunny and 70+ is the norm. Welcome to Spring Training 2013." - "From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Seventh Heaven" - Mark Lerner, Curly W Live

• "Braves Slip The Nats A Mickey For A 9-5 Loss" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "2013 Lineup Preview: The Infield And Catchers" - Joe Drugan, The Nats Blog

• "Where Hypothetical Rendon goes" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "Observations of Nats from early televised ST games" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "February 27, 1908 In Fullerton, California, Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson is operated on for an infection of the mastoid area behind the right ear." - "This Date in Washington Senators History – Walter Johnson has Surgery" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "Sure, spring training numbers mean arguably nothing. That said, why starve a Nats fan of the opportunity to get at least a little excited by the fact that Harper is just three hits away from matching his total of nine hits from last spring?" - "Washington Nationals Spring Training: Don’t Bet on a Bryce Harper Slowdown Just Yet" - Alyssa Wolice, District Sports Page

• "In yet another milestone for the Rough Rider, Teddy Roosevelt’s historic first presidents race victory has been commemorated on a new Topps Heritage baseball card." - "Teddy gets his own Topps baseball card" - Presidents Race Fan, Let Teddy Win!

• "What about these bench players?" - The Nationals Review

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "The expectations are huge for Travis d’Arnaud, and even if the plan is for him to start the season in Triple-A, the 24-year-old catcher has to be feeling some pressure as he tries to impress his new ballclub." - "NY Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud making a splash at camp with his bat" - John Harper, NY Daily News

Braves: "'They made some moves,' said Washington second baseman Danny Espinosa, speaking of the Atlanta Braves. "And they were a very talented team to start with.'" - "Braves and Nats: Both were good; both got better" - Mark Bradley | www.ajc.com

Marlins: "Five years after being drafted, [Kyle] Skipworth hasn’t even reached the majors. But that could soon change." - "JUPITER: Miami Marlins catcher Kyle Skipworth has chance to justify draft status" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

Phillies: "The day after the Washington Nationals made him the highest-paid player ever to be shipped to the minors before opening day, John Lannan drove six hours north. He was nailed with a speeding ticket between Washington and Syracuse, N.Y." - "John Lannan welcomes his chance with Phillies" - Matt Gelb, Philadelphia Inquirer

• Bonus Mets: "My changeup has gotten better as the season has gone on. It started out as a circle change, but then I moved my hand up on the ball a little bit to put more pressure on it." - Zack Wheeler - "Q&A: Zack Wheeler, Future Mets’ Ace" - David Laurilia, FanGraphs Baseball

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