Wire Taps: Washington Nationals - Opening Day Links: Previews; Predictions; Stephen Strasburg Stories

The Washington Nationals start their 2013 campaign at 1:05 pm EST this afternoon when they take on the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park. The defending NL East Champs start the defense of their division crown in front of the D.C. Faithful in the nation's capital with Stephen Strasburg on the mound in NatsTown.

Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson made the last roster decision on Friday. The Nats' skipper decided to stick with right-hander Henry Rodriguez, guaranteeing that the team would start the season with just one left-hander in the bullpen after the Nationals said all winter they were comfortable with their right-handers against lefties. Stephen Strasburg talked to reporters on Friday about making the Opening Day start against the Marlins. The Nationals' 70-year-old manager talked about the addition of Denard Span, why he had faith Danny Espinosa would have a big year and he also told reporters what he thought was the most important story of the Spring, Ryan Zimmerman's so-far successful return from shoulder surgery.

"I think that's been probably the most gratifying thing this Spring," Johnson said on Friday. "From Day 1, Ryan set out to be not restricted in his throwing like he has been because the operation cleared up some restrictions that he had in his shoulder. And he looked great, and I think he's felt better every day. So that's been some of the best news coming out of Spring. He and [Wilson] Ramos, seeing the Springs they've had, which has been the most satisfying [thing] as far as I'm concerned." The most satisfying thing for us? Realizing that Jordan Zimmermann really meant what he said about making his changeup a weapon this Spring after thinking for several years he was trying to talk the pitch into opposing teams' scouting reports. Zimmermann will throw in the series finale with the Fish. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's all about Opening Day today. Links and lots of them coming your way. Game time 1:05 pm EST. Until then, links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "In 79 big league seasons, Washington has had 11 clubs that lost 100 games but none, ever, that won 100. The town’s one World Series win in 1924 almost seems like an insult of a different sort — standing solitary and so distant that perhaps no living Washingtonian can recall it clearly." - "2013 Washington Nationals preview: It’s time for more good D.C. baseball memories" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "[Stephen] Strasburg’s repertoire hasn’t changed. He has a fastball that hits the upper 90s, a tremendous curveball and a change-up that ought to be illegal." - "Nationals' Opening Day brings Stephen Strasburg, unwrapped" - Mike Harris, Washington Times

• "Overall, [Stephen] Strasburg is 21-10 with a 2.94 ERA in 45 career starts in the majors since his electrifying debut. He went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts over 159 1-3 innings last season before being shut down..." - "Strasburg, Nationals open season against Marlins" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "Manager Davey Johnson echoed [Stephen] Strasburg’s comment, without being asked about it. He too thinks the 24-year-old can get even better." - "Strasburg 'still learning'" - Chase Hughes, NatsInsider.com

• "The World Baseball Classic didn’t just get Gonzalez ready for 2013, it helped him get past the rough end to 2012." - "Nationals preview 2013: The pitching staff" - Harry Pavlidis, Washington Post

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson noticed something different about ace right-hander Stephen Strasburg this year. It has nothing to do with what he does on the mound. He is still one of the best pitchers in baseball." - "At ease in spotlight, Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg set to climb higher" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "In the fall of 2008, as the clutches of the modern hype machine lunged for Stephen Strasburg, he received a phone call from an old baseball coach." - "2013 Washington Nationals preview: Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are ready to go the distance for a World Series contender" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "A whole lot has to go right for an organization to go from laughingstock to legitimate World Series contender in four years." - "Nationals Opening Day" Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "The alarm blares at an hour many would consider ungodly, and the 20-year-old who rewrote the major league record books as a teen pulls his 6-foot-2-inch frame out of bed." - "Bryce Harper looking beyond 'the baseball guy'" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Over a team-high 78 at-bats this spring, [Danny] Espinosa posted a slash line of .333/.358/.474, well up across the board from his 2012 numbers of .247/.315/.402." - "Nationals Pastime: Espinosa: 'I feel like I can hit anybody'" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

AUDIO: "Are the Nationals good enough to make another run?" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "2013 Major League baseball team previews. Biggest losses, biggest additions and what to watch for for all 30 MLB teams." - "2013 MLB team previews" - Barry Svrluga, The Washington Post

• "On the radio, things will start on 106.7 the Fan at 6 a.m., when the Junkies will kick the morning off. The entire day will be dedicated to Nationals coverage." - "MASN, 106.7 the Fan going all out on Nationals on Monday" - Jim Williams, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "VIDEO: Predicting the NL and AL East" - NatsInsider.com

• "Friday afternoon, Davey Johnson answered the one remaining question regarding the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day roster..." - "Nationals finalize Opening Day roster" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The Nationals currently have two 27-year-olds knocking on the door of stardom in Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond, both of whom are under team control through the 2015 season." - "Nationals Pastime: Getting in on the extension action" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Giancarlo] Stanton has terrorized Nationals pitching in the past, hitting .341/.429/.739 with 14 homers in 161 career plate appearances." - "The Marlins’ opening day lineup against Stephen Strasburg" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Davey] Johnson's Nats had the best record in the Major Leagues last season and appear to have gotten better. Redmond's Fish finished last in the NL East and saw many of their most recognizable players depart..." - "Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals - April 1, 2013" - Paul Hagen, MLB.com Preview

• "Three of four experts from Yahoo! Sports concurred: The Nationals will win the World Series. And over at ESPN, 16 of 43 experts picked the Nats to win it all, 29 of 43 picked them to reach the Series..." - "Nationals are embracing lofty expectations" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "A whole lot has to go right for an organization to go from laughingstock to legitimate World Series contender in four years." - "Nationals Opening Day" Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "The Nats will break camp with 13 position players and 12 pitchers, opting to go with a five-man bench and a seven-man bullpen, as they did most of last season." - "Nationals Pastime: Nats finalize opening day roster" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "In the most unsurprising announcement of the week, the Nationals officially submitted their opening 25-man roster." - "Nationals roster is officially set, J.C. Romero is re-assigned" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "All pitchers have their rough spells. With [Henry] Rodriguez, they just seem more pronounced. With no options remaining, he presented the Nats with a bit of a conundrum." - "Keeping Henry Rodriguez is, for now, the right call for the Nationals" - Mike Harris, Washington Times

• "Brad Wilkerson. Christian Guzman. Nyjer Morgan. All were slightly below average players plaguing the top of the Nationals lineup." - "Washington Nationals Denard Span Might Be The Team's Biggest Addition" - Kevin Jones, wusa9.com

• "Well, it's that time again. Everyone out there is making their predictions for the upcoming season..." - "2013 MLB Predictions" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "It all begins Monday, when All-Star ace [Stephen] Strasburg starts the season opener for the defending NL East champion Washington Nationals against a Miami Marlins club that traded away most of its best players..." - "Strasburg, Nationals Open Season Against Marlins" - Dan Morrison, CBS DC

• "Manager Davey Johnson confirmed that the right-hander has made the team over lefty J.C. Romero following the game, in which [Henry] Rodriguez tossed a scoreless sixth inning." - "Final outing helps Rodriguez make Nats' roster" - Andrew Simon, nationals.com: News

• "Even in a season cut short by 75 games because of a broken left wrist, Werth found his comfort zone in Washington." - "Nationals preview 2013: The lineup" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "'You're going to go through ups and downs, but it's gone back to it being the same game I grew up loving to play and still love to play today.'" - Micah Owings - "Nationals Pastime: Owings feels strong spring validated change to position player" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "With all the movement that went on within the division this offseason, let's look at each of the Nationals' division foes to see what they have going as the season gets ready to start." - "Can anyone challenge the Nats?" - Chase Hughes, NatsInsider.com

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "[Mike] Rizzo, as an Arizona scout, signed [Emilio] Bonifacio out of the Dominican Republic. Rizzo, as an assistant general manager in Washington, traded for Bonifacio. He then watched Bonifacio traded to the Marlins over his protests." - "Miami Marlins Opening Day: Marlins face Washington on Opening Day" - David Hyde, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

• "The big signing this offseason was veteran closer Rafael Soriano, added to an already loaded bullpen, featuring Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard." - "NL East preview: Finally, Nationals appear poised for a banner year" - Tony Paul, The Detroit News | detroitnews.com

• "The Nationals' ace should be raring to go after his early shutdown in 2012. I wouldn’t want to be any one of the Marlins who have to face him." - "Ranking all 30 opening day starters around Major League Baseball" - Mark Townsend, Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports

• "azcentral sports predicts 2013 MLB season" - AZCentral.com

• "Landscape-changing move: Denard Span coming from the Twins as the leadoff man and center fielder is just what the Nationals' doctor ordered." - "Preview for the National League East Division" - Dave Van Dyck, Baseball Wires - MiamiHerald.com

• "Over the past few years, the Nationals, who lost 205 games between 2008-09, have taken a big scoop of front-office and organizational savvy, generously sprinkled in some dollars and added a dash of luck..." - "NL preview: Washington builds strong contender, with Braves close 2nd" - Bob Cohn, TribLIVE

• "Nationals flamethrower Stephen Strasburgh has no limit on innings this year, which is bad news for the rest of the National League." - "Unlike NY Mets, Washington Nationals have big expectations and Atlanta Braves are ready to fight them for division" - Bill Madden, NY Daily News

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Potomac: "Former Major League veteran, Chris Michalak, will oversee a 13-man pitching stable that includes potential starters: RHP A.J. Cole, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Taylor Jordan, RHP Taylor Hill, and LHP Kylin Turnbull." - "Potomac Nationals Unveil 2013 Opening Day Roster" - Bryan Holland, Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "The eight Baseball America top prospects are Anthony Rendon (1), Brian Goodwin (3), Matt Skole (4), Nathan Karns (5), Sandy Leon (15), Rick Hague (16), Destin Hood (17), and Paul Demny (28)." - "Senators 2013 Opening Day Roster is Set" - Terry Byrom, Harrisburg Senators News

• "Fourteen former Harrisburg Senators dot the finalized Opening Day roster of the parent Washington Nationals." - "Washington Nationals' Opening Day roster includes 14 former Harrisburg Senators" - Geoff Morrow, PennLive.com

Triple-A Syracuse: "Syracuse's active Opening Day roster features 16 former major leaguers and seven players on the Nationals' 40-man roster. The Chiefs also return 12 players from last year's Syracuse squad and 15 former Chiefs in total." - "Chiefs announce preliminary 2013 Opening Day Roster" - Syracuse Chiefs News

• "Nationals release rosters for Hagerstown, Potomac and Syracuse" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Hagerstown Announces Its 2013 Opening Day Roster" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "Teddy Roosevelt’s great great grandson will kick off the 2013 baseball season with the pronouncement 'Play Ball!' to introduce Monday’s first pitch at Nationals Park." - "Teddy’s great great grandson Winthrop Roosevelt to kick off 2013 season Monday" - Presidents Race Fan, Let Teddy Win!

• "The Nationals’ most dramatic upgrade this season is in the outfield. With the addition of Denard Span, the team has defensive skill across the board and speed at the top of the order." - "Nationals Preview: The Outfield" - Marty Niland, D.C. Baseball History

• "Oh, it's just Zach Duke, Chad Tracy, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, and Ross Detwiler with the Easter Bunny. No big deal. Hopefully LaRoche isn't in the mood for huntin' bunny rabbit...but according to Zach Duke, this Easter Bunny might be..." - "Nationals players pose with the Easter Bunny, who might be a Nationals player in an Easter Bunny costume" - Nats Enquirer

• "In discussing the maturation of young hitters Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, Johnson discussed both players’ transitioning into the players he thought they could be by being the hitters they are..." - "Washington Nationals veteran skipper Davey Johnson 'gets it'" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Five things I’ll be watching this season" - Nat Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• "The Nationals and the Shark are back in action on Monday, and Sharkadina will be there chomping for the win." - "SHARK VS MARLINS 2013" - Sharkadina

• "My top 5 Nats Games seen in person" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "My top five baseball games" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• "Nats- No Surprises" - tomblaz, DC Pro Sports Report

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Marlins: "Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest was reading off a long list of roster moves on Sunday when he came to the name he knew would create a ripple." - "WASHINGTON: In shocker, 20-year-old pitcher Jose Fernandez makes Miami Marlins starting rotation" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

Phillies: "The first chapter in Roy Halladay's bible, fittingly, is titled 'Adjustments.' This is the book that once saved his career, the book Brandy Halladay bought for her husband 13 years ago, when Roy first confronted his baseball mortality." - "Phillies' Roy Halladay faces his biggest challenge" - Matt Gelb, Philadelphia Inquirer

Mets: "Nobody was expecting Santana to be a true ace again, but his presence still figured to be vital to a team clinging to the hope that its starting pitching would be strong enough to forge a surprise season." - "Young pitchers like Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler give NY Mets feeling of 1983, a rebuilding season which set up championship run in 1986" - John Harper, NY Daily News

Braves: "At age 37, after elbow surgery, back surgery and a bone spur or two, Braves pitcher Tim Hudson has evolved." - "Another opening start for Hudson, now the eldest Braves" - David O'Brien, www.myajc.com

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