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Wire Taps: Nationals name Max Scherzer Opening Day starter

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The Washington Nationals named Max Scherzer their Opening Day starter this morning, confirming what a lot of people expected. The right-hander, who signed a 7-year/$210M deal this winter, will take the mound on April 6th in Nationals Park.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Post Nationals beat writer James Wagner wrote this morning on the Twitter that an announcement on the Washington Nationals' Opening Day starter would be made at some point today. Would it be Max Scherzer, the Nationals' $210M starter? Stephen Strasburg, the OD starter for the past three seasons? Would it be Jordan Zimmermann, who deserves the honor as much as any Nats' starter? Former Nationals' GM Jim Bowden, now an ESPN analyst and MLB Network Radio host, said the decision had already been made:

"What does Bowden know?" "When was the last time he was right about anything?" Get all the yelling out of your system. He was right. Though this one wasn't a big mystery. The Nationals made the official announcement this morning:

Not a big surprise.

The WaPost's Wagner wrote on Twitter that Nats' skipper Matt Williams did speak to Stephen Strasburg about the decision to go with Scherzer in Game no.1 of 162:

So that announcement is out of the way. Now the Nationals have to play another Grapefruit League game.

Today in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, the defending NL East champs take on the New York Yankees.

Here's the Nationals' lineup for this afternoon's game. Before you ask, yes, that "Ward" is "Drew Ward" the Nats' 2013 3rd Round pick:

While you ponder what Ward is doing in the lineup (try not to read too much into it), how about some links to get you through the next two hours...

Stephen Strasburg's ankle is just fine, no worries:

• "Strasburg said his ankle has felt better with each passing day but still needs to ice it to get the rest of the swelling out." - "Stephen Strasburg throws light bullpen, Michael A. Taylor homers twice off Justin Verlander" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Williams expects Strasburg to make two more Grapefruit League starts before opening day." - "Nationals Pastime: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound, Werth to play five innings today in minors" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com

• "Two days after spraining his left ankle, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg said Sunday morning he is feeling better..." - "Strasburg successfully tests ankle sprain in 'pen session" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

His name is Escobar, Yunel Escobar, remember him?:

• "Escobar will likely go through a full pregame routine again Sunday before he plays about three innings at second base on Monday." - "Escobar slated for spring debut today" - Jamal Collier, nationals.com

Michael Taylor, Opening Day CF, no pressure, kid!:

• "With Denard Span now forced to open the season on the disabled list following his second core muscle surgery in three months, the Nationals need a starting center fielder. And Taylor is right in the middle of the discussion." - "Nationals have decision to make on Michael Taylor" -Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Manager Matt Williams says contact is paramount for Taylor who's battled strikeout problems early in his career." - "Nationals Pastime: Top prospects Michael A. Taylor and A.J. Cole outshine Tigers superstars" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com

• "After grounding out in the first inning, Taylor came to the plate two innings later and hit a fastball over the right-field wall." - "Tailored approach helps Nats prospect to thrive" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

NATS BEAT: Drew Ward, Cutter Dykstra and more

• "Ward displayed his bat last season in the South Atlantic League. In 115 games, Ward hit .269 with 26 doubles, three triples, 10 homers and 73 RBIs." - "Drew Ward makes first major league spring start at third base today for Nats" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Injuries to Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon, and the rehab of Jayson Werth, have added uncertainty to several positions." - "The Nationals’ many bench options" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Dykstra credits Harrisburg manager Brian Daubach and hitting coach Mark Harris for giving him the confidence for making it this far." - "Dykstra showing hustle, making good impression on Nationals" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "Another of the Nats' highly ranked prospects, A.J. Cole, said he was 'a little jittery' standing on the mound yesterday staring down at Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera. " - "Nationals Pastime: Center of attention" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com

• "Blevins and Matt Thornton likely will make up the left-handed contingent of the Nationals’ opening day bullpen." - "Nationals’ Jerry Blevins as much a renaissance man as he is a baseball player" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "'With the exception of Denard, [the injuries] are nagging stuff,' Williams said. '... We have a couple of weeks left.'" - "Williams doesn't feel Nats need to make deal" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

NATIONAL(S) BEAT: Tigers' take; Nats' new ST dump

• "Taylor's second homer was on what Verlander called a backup slider that got enough of the plate for Taylor to pull onto the left-field berm." - "Nats tag Verlander for 3 homers, 2 by Taylor" - Jason Beck, nationals.com

• "He was just cleared to resume baseball activities but his status for Opening Day is uncertain. It would be a big blow for the Nationals." - "Washington Nationals have own injured infielder who could miss opening Mets series" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com

• "It took a few at-bats for Miguel Cabrera to find his groove. Justin Verlander never really seemed to find his." - "Tigers 7, Nationals 7: Miguel Cabrera singles in debut; Justin Verlander surrenders three HRs" - Chris Iott, MLive.com

• "If Major League Baseball’s newest spring training complex rises above an old city landfill in a few years, it wouldn’t be the first baseball stadium ever built on a trash dump." - "West Palm Beach baseball stadium faces dump cleanup costs" - Joe Capozzi, www.mypalmbeachpost.com

• "Other Merced County natives, such as Washington Nationals pitcher Doug Fister, also chipped in with autographed pictures for the auction." - "Hundreds help raise funds for Planada boxing club for kids" - Rob Parsons, The Merced Sun-Star

• "The Sailors are tied for fourth with 15 players, including current big-leaguers Ian Desmond (Washington Nationals), Scooter Gennett (Milwaukee Brewers) and Joey Terdoslavich (Atlanta Braves)." - "Lilliquist among a long line of Metcalf pupils" - Jim Brockman, Herald-Tribune

NL EAST UPDATES: Colon in D.C.; Philly prospect; Marlins' plan; Markakis returns

Phillies: "The Phillies rotation is a mess right now, which could be a reason why the powers that be feel that it is a good time to get a glimpse of the future." - "Top pitching prospect Aaron Nola to start against Yankees on Friday" - David Murphy, Philadelphia Daily News

Mets: "Bartolo Colon will start for the New York Mets on Opening Day against the Washington Nationals in D.C...." - "Sources: Bartolo Colon, Jacob deGrom to get opening honors" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN New York

Braves: "Markakis, who signed a four-year, $44 million deal this offseason, has been sidelined all spring after undergoing neck surgery on Dec. 17." - "Markakis to make spring debut today" - Paul Casella, braves.com

Marlins: "The Marlins tried a more 'in your face' approach when they assembled a $100 million roster that fell flat in 2012, the inaugural season at Marlins Park." - "Marlins aiming to avoid past mistakes in building contender" - Joe Frisaro, marlins.com