Matt Williams has been asked several times already this Spring about the weight of expectations for the Washington Nationals this season after their 96-win campaign in 2014. The second-year skipper has thus far refused to bite on that stuff, however, or provide the #WSOB-ish quote that could potentially add to the pressure on the defending NL East Champions are facing.
Asked again yesterday if all the talk of the Nationals being World Series favorites was premature, Williams said of course it is, in the first few days of Spring Training before a single game has been played.
"We talked about it yesterday," he said. "It makes for good copy and good conversation, but we don't think in those terms. We think in terms of getting ready for the Spring season and getting ready for the regular season and moving from there.
"On paper, things can be thrown around back and forth, but you've got to play the games, and that's what we concentrate on."
Nationals' pitchers and catchers have been hard at work for a few days now and position players, many of whom had already arrived and started workouts, are getting in more work today.
Before the Nats' manager talks again this afternoon, catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news...
[ed. note - "We spent the last 24 hrs fighting off a nasty cold, so this collection of links was as much about catching us up on all the news out there as anything else. We did find some interesting things you might not have seen though, so dig in..."]:
NATS BEAT: Ian Desmond talks; Espinosa updates; Zim at 1B; O's vs Nats?
Random Nationals Notes:
• "Washington has a hard time really caring about anything in Baltimore, but this may eventually move the needle." - "Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post
• "The guy known around here simply as 'Cat' was kind enough to sit down with me for a TV interview over the weekend and share some of his thoughts..." - "Steve McCatty on coaching the Nationals’ talented pitching staff" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Williams isn't a guy given to platitudes, but he's savvy enough to realize what people are saying. Still, he did what he could to temper that kind of lofty talk." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams on powerhouse rotation Nationals have assembled" - Pete Kerzel, MASNSports.com
• "Roark has taken it all in stride, earning the respect of Nationals officials, coaches and teammates. 'He’s phenomenal,' Manager Matt Williams said." - "Tanner Roark on potential return to bullpen: ‘I’m just here to do my job’" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "Storen is happy to be back in the saddle, of course, but does say he will miss his former teammate..." - "Drew Storen on entering season as Nationals closer role" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider
• "As of Monday evening, outfielders Jayson Werth and Mike Carp, and infielders Wilmer Difo and Yunel Escobar were the only players who had not yet appeared at Space Coast Stadium." - "Nationals Pastime: All eyes on Escobar" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "It all looks good on paper, but as McCatty points out, the Nationals have to play the games in order to get great results." - "McCatty preaching excellence one pitch at a time" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
• "Right-handed reliever Erik Davis did something Tuesday he hadn’t done without pain in more than a year..." - "Erik Davis throws off a mound, the next step in his long recovery from Tommy John surgery" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "A key mechanical adjustment helped Lopez accelerate his late season push. Despite being 'only' 6-feet tall, Lopez can still bring the heat, with a 95-plus mph fastball." - "Giolito on Reynaldo Lopez's fastball: 'I've never seen anything like it live'" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
Lucas Giolito on Reynaldo Lopez's fastball: 'I've never seen anything like it live' http://t.co/gi9QyqriyU— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) February 23, 2015
• "Once again this year, the top catcher for the Nationals is Wilson Ramos, a right-handed slugger who has been beset by injuries since coming to Washington in 2010." - "Can Wilson Ramos Catch 130 Games For The Nationals In 2015?" - David Driver, Pressbox DC
• "Just look at Anthony Rendon's hair" - Nats Enquirer
• "His home run to flyball ratio was 10.4 percent, which was lower than what we would have expected..." - "What to expect from Anthony Rendon at the plate this season" - Neil Greenberg, The Washington Post
• "Harper, who was listed at 225 pounds last season, says he arrives in Viera with about 7 percent body fat and as light as he’s been since he weighed 205 pounds in college." - "Bryce Harper says he’s reporting to spring training as light as he’s been since college" - Scott Allen, The Washington Post
• "Over the past few years, Craig Stammen has become incredibly good in an indispensable but largely overlooked role: innings-eater." - "Viera Journal: Nationals' Craig Stammen seems set to branch out of inning-eating role" - Tom Schad, Washington Times
• "Kailua native Kila Ka’aihue will take his next step at a return to the Major Leagues on Tuesday as position players report to Washington Nationals Spring Training camp in Florida." - "Ka’aihue has eyes set on Nationals’ opening day roster" - Rob DeMello, KHON2
Danny Espinosa Stories:
• "'I’m looking at in a positive way,' he said. 'I just want more success than I’ve had previously. If that means hitting all right-handed, then that’s fine.'" - "Danny Espinosa on hitting right-handed during spring training" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "'He’s got some of the best facial hair,' Bryce Harper observed. 'He shaves it before the game and he’s got a beard by the sixth inning.'" - "Danny Espinosa’s mustache: still enormous, still amazing" - Dan Steinberg, The Washington Post
'Big as a house' was so last year. Bryce Harper says he's as light as he's been since college http://t.co/brp9N7rdPA— Scott Allen (@ScottSAllen) February 23, 2015
Ian Desmond speaks:
• "Part of his struggles can be traced to half the balls he put in play being grounders." - "Why the Nationals’ Ian Desmond should have another 20/20 season" - Neil Greenberg, The Washington Post
• "In fact, according to reports, Desmond was close to being traded in a three-way deal to the Mets. Desmond said that he didn't take the report seriously." - "Desmond plans to 'enjoy every single day' with Nationals" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
.@Jim_Duquette's Top 5 MLB Shortstops: 1) Ian Desmond, 2) Troy Tulowitzki, 3) Starlin Castro, 4) Jhonny Peralta, 5) Andrelton Simmons— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 24, 2015
.@MikeFerrinSXM's Top 5 MLB Shortstops: 1) Troy Tulowitzki, 2) Ian Desmond, 3) Erick Aybar, 4) Jhonny Peralta, 5) Starlin Castro— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 24, 2015
• "Speaking today after reporting to Nationals camp, Desmond didn't appear bothered by the trade rumors, including a reported potential deal that would have sent him to the Mets." - "Nationals Pastime: Despite rumors, Desmond is ready to 'enjoy this ride' (plus pics)" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "Ian Desmond doesn’t know if 2015 will be his final season with the Nationals. But he knows it could be..." - "Desmond on possible final year in D.C.: 'I’m going to enjoy this ride'" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Desmond’s presence was felt instantly upon his arrival. He made his way through the clubhouse Monday morning, catching up with and hugging teammates." - "Ian Desmond on his contract status and improving in 2015" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
Ryan Zimmerman: Nationals' first baseman
• "'I think it's weirder for you guys than it is for me,' Zimmerman said while standing in front of his locker this morning. 'All good things come to an end.'" - "Nationals Pastime: Zimmerman ready to prove himself at first base" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "Zimmerman was taking ground balls and finding ways to feel comfortable around the bag. The session lasted about 30 minutes." - "Zimmerman getting used to seeing field from new position" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
• "The most notable event Monday morning was the arrival of Ryan Zimmerman, who wasted no time getting to work at his new position..." - "News, notes and observations from Monday’s workout in Viera" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Beset by injuries, Ryan Zimmerman played in 61 games last season — by far the lowest total of his career since establishing himself in 2006..." - "Ryan Zimmerman says he’s healthy, ready to prove he can play first base" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "It might seem strange at first, seeing the face of the franchise standing at a new position..." - "Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman eager to prove himself, begin new chapter at first base" - Tom Schad, Washington Times
• "There is some peace of mind that comes with that knowledge. No more struggling to make accurate throws across the diamond. No more crash course in tracking flyballs..." - "Ryan Zimmerman is healthy and at peace with move to first base" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "With Adam LaRoche gone, and third base in the Silver Slugger-winning hands of Anthony Rendon, first base is Zimmerman’s this season..." - "Ryan Zimmerman, slated to be everyday first baseman, does extra work there" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "Zimmerman appeared in five games at first base last season but did so after only a crash course in basic aspects of the position." - "Ryan Zimmerman reports to camp, gets right to work at first base" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
Time to head back to the stadium. Another workout closer to Opening Day! pic.twitter.com/SF6koQCb5H— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 24, 2015
• "'It’s almost sort of a new challenge,' Zimmerman said Tuesday morning. 'Something I have to prove myself again, prove that I can play over there.'" - "Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman eager to prove himself, begin new chapter at first base" - Tom Schad, Washington Times
NATIONAL(S) BEAT: Do Nats embrace statistical analysis?
• "When it comes to what the numbers have to say, assistant GM Adam Cromie and director of baseball R&D Sam Mondry-Cohen make sure of that." - "The Great Analytics Rankings" - ESPN
THE GREAT ANALYTICS RANKINGS: We used execs, our experts and data (duh) to rank 122 teams on their use of analytics! http://t.co/QD4jghWBrJ— ESPN The Magazine (@ESPNMag) February 23, 2015
• "'What I need to do differently than last year, most importantly, is probably getting in the workout room more often,' Krol said this morning..." - "Detroit Tigers' Ian Krol vows not to be 'lazy' this season" - George Sippel, Detroit Free Press
• "If Harper is going to be the guy everyone wants him to be, he’s going to have to tailor his playing style, at least a little, to stay healthy." - "Fantasy Baseball: A healthy Bryce Harper will be valuable asset" - Michael Beller, SI.com
Trea Turner's agent, Jeff Berry, released a statement through a representative. Berry: "Trea has put this matter behind him and is (1/2)— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) February 24, 2015
focusing on his development and being a productive member of the Padres organization." (2/2)— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) February 24, 2015
• "There are few position questions going into the Tampa Bay Rays' spring work, but infielder Asdrubal Cabrera's spot remains a question." - "Tampa Bay Rays' Asdrubal Cabrera would prefer to play one position, but will it be SS or 2B?" - Andrew Astleford, FOX Sports
• "Veteran righthander Mike Pelfrey got an extended look at Alex Meyer last season while on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Rochester." - "Veteran pitcher says Alex Meyer is 'a guy who should dominate'" - Judd Zulgad, 1500 ESPN Twin Cities
NL EAST UPDATES: Mel-VIN!!! Giancarlo's $; Nats on Mets; DomBrown
• Braves: "'This has nothing to do with starting a new chapter,' Upton said. 'I just wanted to. My father thought enough to give me his name, so why not?'" - "Upton: Name change not about rebound with Braves" - Mark Bowman, MLB.com
• Marlins: "Speaking with media before the Marlins’ first full squad workout Tuesday, Stanton isn’t worried about buckling under the 13-year, $325 million extension he signed in November." - "Weight of $325 million contract won't wobble Stanton" - Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel
• Mets: "Scherzer declined to comment on the Mets and their potentially loaded rotation..." - "Nationals believe the Mets are team to be respected this season" - Anthony Rieber, Newsday
• Phillies: "Domonic Brown reported to spring training Monday with what he deemed a 'really different mind-set.'" - "Phillies Notes: Phillies' Brown hopes to benefit from fresh start" - Jake Kaplan, Philadelphia Inquirer