The big Washington Nationals-related stories on Wednesday? Gio Gonzalez's meow-filled interview on MASN was probably the biggest news. Stephen Strasburg's ingrown toenail is forcing him to miss a scheduled start against the Mets, so A.J. Cole will take the mound in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field for today's Grapefruit League action. Then there was some Max Scherzer news. Scherzer was, of course, seemingly behind Gio's "Super Troopers"-inspired interview stunt, and he could be seen laughing and counting "meows" as Gonzalez tried to hold it together and Dan Kolko tried to soldier through. Scherzer also talked to Detroit-based reporters after his new team beat the Tigers, 9-2.
In an interview after he signed his 7-year/$210M deal, Scherzer told reporters that of the teams that were left in the mix at the end of his search for a new home, the Nationals provided the best chance to win throughout the length of his new deal.
"[O]f the teams that were really down to it to the end, the Nationals, to me, gave me the best opportunity," Scherzer explained. "So, because of that, that's the reason why I told Scott [Boras] at the end, let's just negotiate with the Nationals."
He said yesterday, however, that there really was a "mystery team" that got involved at the end:
Max Scherzer said he wasn't lying -- there really was a mystery team looking at him this winter. Wasn't Tigers, but wouldn't say which team.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) March 11, 2015
Scherzer also said he was surprised when information about negotiations with the Tigers were made public last Spring:
Max Scherzer said he had to tread lightly when asked if he was shocked Dombrowski made talks public last spring. Admitted he was surprised.— James Schmehl (@jamesschmehl) March 11, 2015
Read the rest of Max Scherzer's comments to the Detroit-based press below and after that check out the rest of the Nats-related links we found...
• "Scherzer acknowledged that he thought it was possible that a deal might still get done with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch before he signed with the Nats." - "Max Scherzer still fond of Detroit Tigers but has moved on" - George Sipple, Detroit Free Press
Gio Gonzalez's meow-filled interview:
• "As a baseball player or professional important person, it must get pretty tiring giving interviews all the time." - "Gio Gonzalez 'meows' 10 times during his interview" - Michael Clair, MLB.com
Meow super trooper- BEST QUALITY 720p http://t.co/064BXCAdpo— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) March 11, 2015
Bryce Harper not a blackhat?:
• "Bryce Harper said something the other day about how good the Washington Nationals could be – make that would be – and, you know, maybe it didn’t come out exactly right..." - "Why Bryce Harper is miscast as a baseball villain" - Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports
NATS BEAT: Strasburg's toenail; Cole vs NYM; Difo's shining
• "Preface everything with 'it’s only spring training,' but Difo clearly felt no need to wait." - "Nationals prospect Wilmer Difo does damage against David Price" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "'I was attacking and trying to get ahead with the fastball,' said Zimmermann. 'The last outing, I wasn't able to do that...'" - "Nationals Pastime: Difo makes his mark, while Storen and McLouth make spring debuts" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "Wilmer Difo was a catalyst in the Nationals' 9-2 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon." - "Difo coming out of spring gates swinging" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
• "Thornton is an unheralded enigma. Left-handed middle relievers rarely make headlines, and Thornton did not create them last year..." - "Matt Thornton’s powerful secret: Nationals reliever can still throw hard" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "If your job description is 'outfielder, Washington Nationals,' you might want to take out some insurance." - "For Nationals, pain could mean gain, but otherwise, they’re just hurting" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post
• "Only three of the Nats’ first 39 games this season come against a team that posted a winning record in 2014 (April 21-23 against the Cardinals)..." - "Will an easy schedule benefit the Nationals early in the season?" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann started for the Nationals and allowed a run in 2 2/3 innings while striking out four batters." - "Nats' bats erupt for Zimmermann in rout of Tigers" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
Strasburg scratched; Cole vs Mets:
• "Right-hander Stephen Strasburg has been scratched from making his second start of the exhibition season on Thursday after undergoing surgery to remove an ingrown toenail." - "Nationals Pastime: Strasburg scratched from Thursday start because of ingrown toenail" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "This is actually the second go-around for Cole with the Nationals, who selected the 6-foot-5 right-hander in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft..." - "Nationals Pastime: 'Promising prospect' Cole to start vs. Mets" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
NO!! NOT THE MUSTACHE!!! NO DANNY! NO!!!:
NATS PROSPECT UPDATES:
• "[Gary] Cathcart said [Jefry] Rodriguez is such an intriguing prospect because of the way the player has been able to transition so well and advance after starting out as an infielder." - "Nationals early camp prospect capsule: Jefry Rodriguez, Luis Reyes" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "One opportunity for a young player has already arisen, as center fielder Denard Span underwent surgery on Monday to repair a right core muscle." - "MLB Pipeline checks in from Nationals camp" - Teddy Cahill, nationals.com
• "The MLBPA only represents players on major league 40-man rosters, and would therefore technically have no involvement in [Trea] Turner’s situation." - "MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark on Trea Turner, pace of play and big contracts" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
By the way, MLBPA Chief Tony Clark said he spoke to Trea Turner at Padres camp, lauds his "perspective."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 11, 2015
Clark: "...it's unfortunate that he or any player would find himself in that situation." MLBPA represents only players on 40-man rosters.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 11, 2015
NATSTOWN: Racing Presidents do D.C.
• "The Nationals’ Racing Presidents were at the National Archives on Wednesday. Tom posed with the Declaration of Independence." - "The Racing Presidents shoot a new video at the National Archives" - Scott Allen, The Washington Post
• Phillies: "Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is stressing small ball this spring, Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal reports..." - "Ryne Sandberg Stressing Small Ball in Spring Training" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley
• Mets: "The planned matchup Thursday between Jacob deGrom and Stephen Strasburg will not materialize at Tradition Field." - "Morning Briefing: Toenail thwarts matchup" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN New York
• Marlins: "Stanton's a double-barreled object of interest: He's the most powerful hitter on earth and he's coming back from a dreadful beaning..." - "Three reasons to watch the Miami Marlins in 2015" - Rob Neyer, FOX Sports
• Braves: "If they wanted to, the Braves could stick Jason Grilli in the freezer and bring him out again in Miami..." - "Grilli already paying immediate dividends" - Phil Rogers, braves.com