Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams has talked all spring about the fact that his veterans will be making road trips for Grapefruit League games as he tries to get everyone on the roster the at bats they need to prepare for the 2014 campaign. The subject came up again yesterday since the Nats have split-squad road games with the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros this afternoon.
"We've sat with most of them and mapped out a schedule for them," he explained. "So some day it's falls on road games. Wednesday just happens to be a double road game so we don't have a choice. You want to try to take care of your veteran guys at home, certainly." Williams and his staff will be in Kissimmee, Florida's Osceola County Stadium where the Nationals take on the Astros in a game that's available (via the Astros' feed) on MLB.tv.
Since the cameras are there for the broadcast, they'll also be using instant replay.
"Tomorrow is our first replay game," Williams told reporters on Tuesday, "so our major league staff as a whole will go to Kissimmee to do that. It will be fun."
Williams was asked for his thoughts on how and when he'll try out the new rules.
"I think if it means something to our team we're going to use it," he said. "And if we're confident that we're right we're going to get another one. And I would, in any situation where something like that comes up, I would imagine that I would ask the umpires to take a look at it and if we have to get to a situation where we challenge, then we challenge. But we have to make sure that we're confident that we would be able to get it changed for our team."
The Nationals' first-year skipper said he wishes there were more opportunities in Spring Training to test the new system.
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"I wish we had five a game, because it's good practice for us," he explained.
"It's good practice for everybody. But if there's a questionable call, we are going to challenge that call in the course of our spring games so we get a sense of what it is and how we're going to go about doing it. There's also the opportunity to go out there and talk to them and not necessarily have to use a challenge and so far the umpires have told us that they're willing to do that because ultimately they want to get it right as well."
• Here's the Nationals' lineup that will take on the Houston Astros in Osceola County Stadium:
And here's the lineup that will be in Champion Stadium to take on the Braves:
One quick note: Ryan Zimmerman is staying back and not playing in either game. Williams said today that he's just dealing with general soreness. It's not anything serious according to tweeted reports from Florida.
Game time: Both games start at 1:05 pm EDT in Florida. As noted above, the Nationals vs Astros game is available via MLB.tv. The Nationals and Braves are available via MLB.com's Gameday Audio, but it's the ATL feed.
Who's watching/listening to the Nationals?