"When I was still playing," 35-year-old, recently-retired major leaguer and new Washington Nationals' mentor/life skills coordinator Rick Ankiel explained, "all the time I spent with Harvey Dorfman, we talked about me taking this route when I was done playing, so I always knew it was a possibility. I just wasn't sure if I was going to pursue it or not. The time came and I was ready to get back in and come back and help."
It's guidance Dorfman, a "mental performance coach" who worked with Ankiel, Roy Halladay, Greg Maddux and a number of other major league players, provided for him that Ankiel wants to pass on the members of the Nationals' organization he works with in his new role.
"For me, it will be channeling my inner-Harvey," Ankiel said, "and trying to pass along those teachings.
"I've always credited him with a lot of stuff that he did for me and not only did it make me a better baseball player, but he changed me as a man and I'm proud of the person I am today and a lot of it is because of him."
Ankiel said he was excited to be rejoining the Nationals, after playing the seventh and eighth of his nine major league seasons in Washington in 2011-2012.
"I really like what they're doing, where the organization is going," he said. "There's no question about it that they're trying to win. And you see the players that they keep bringing in, it speaks for itself.
"My time here, I enjoyed everybody. I loved the team. I thought it was a close-knit team and a lot of those guys are still here, so it was attractive to me too, because I've played here and they know who I am, know [what] my personality is, and everything will work out hopefully."
Matt Williams thinks Ankiel has a lot to offer the Nationals.
"What strikes me about -- his whole situation is well-documented -- is that he transitioned from being a pitcher to a position player," Williams said.
"That takes great intestinal fortitude to be able to do that. It certainly isn't easy. And everything he went through as a pitcher, our guys respect it, they understand it because they play the game every day. So he's here to lend that experience to us and be available. So it's a fantastic thing to have him here in camp and the regular season, if anybody has an issue, from a baseball perspective, he's pretty much experienced it.
"The drive, the disappointment, the frustration, the success, the transition, all of those things he brings with him and that's a great thing to have as part of your organization. So he will do great work."
Rick Ankiel + obligatory strong throw video:
• "Ankiel, 35, plans to appear a few times a week at Nationals camp, where players can speak with him on a voluntary basis." - "Ankiel brings wealth of experience to new role" - Jamal Collier, nationals.com
• "Now a year removed from retiring from the game that provided him with so many ups and downs, Ankiel returns to help mentor the young the players in the Nats organization." - "Nationals Pastime: Rick Ankiel returns to help young Nationals players adjust" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "Rick Ankiel’s new title feels like something you’d read on a college brochure." - "Rick Ankiel, Nationals’ life skills coordinator, reports for duty" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "What, exactly, Ankiel will be doing remains a bit unclear. There’s no real road map for a position like this." - "Rick Ankiel ready for new chapter as Nats’ 'life skills coordinator'" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
Scherzer starts Grapefruit League opener -- Note: Read nothing into that:
• "In other words, the choice to have Scherzer start is an indication of him being on schedule and feeling physically ready to do so." - "Max Scherzer will start Thursday’s spring training opener" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "Scherzer, who signed a franchise-record 7-year, $210 million contract in January, is slated to throw two innings or roughly 45 pitches, whichever comes first." - "Scherzer will start Nationals’ spring opener, with Roark in relief" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "Williams watched Scherzer throw his final bullpen session on Tuesday morning behind the left field wall at Space Coast Stadium." - "Nationals Pastime: Scherzer to start spring training opener" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
• "The Nationals are giving Roark the same regimen as a starting pitcher during camp, although, barring injury, he almost certainly will begin the season in the bullpen..." - "Scherzer gets nod for Nationals' spring opener" - Jamal Collier, nationals.com
Bryce Harper "Does a pretty 'epic' photobomb:
• "While Anthony Rendon was sitting down with CSN's Mark Zuckerman, Bryce Harper came by and had some fun with the camera." - "Bryce Harper does a pretty epic videobomb on Anthony Rendon" - Comcast SportsNet Washington
Nats' outfield talk: Tony Gwynn, Jr. signs; Taylor on cusp...
• "'[Gwynn Jr.] is a great guy. Even when I was playing [for San Diego State], he would always come around,' Strasburg said." - "Strasburg appreciates Gwynn's style of play, work ethic" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com
• "Taylor, as soft spoken and unpretentious as any player in the Nationals’ clubhouse, won’t let himself get caught up in any of this." - "On the cusp of majors, Michael Taylor patiently waits for his turn" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
NATS BEAT: Hill in Viera, MW on NLDS + more
• "Given the glut of pitchers fighting for a dearth of available spots on the 25-man and even 40-man roster, Hill is likely to start the season in Class AAA Syracuse." - "Left-hander Rich Hill arrives at Nationals camp" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post
• "Williams was throwing BP to Harper’s group and surprised everyone by breaking the slugger’s bat with his very first pitch, in on the handle." - "News and notes from Tuesday’s workout at Nationals camp" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider
• "It may not be the best system for future long-term success, but, hey, if George Allen was running the Nationals, he would let them know that 'The Future is Now.'" - "Several expiring contracts should make Nationals hungry for success" - Thom Loverro, Washington Times
• "'I think there's worse problems to have in the world than deciding who's going to pitch Game 1,' Scherzer told ESPN on Sunday." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams on naming a No. 1 starter, Gwynn and more (with photo and videos)" - Chris Johnson, MASNSports.com
Chris Johnson (@masnCJ) March 3, 2015
• "Perhaps the most lasting image from the Washington Nationals’ disappointing early exit from last year’s playoffs is the offense’s ineptitude." - "After early NLDS exit, Nationals seek to establish good habits at the plate" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "Much of that speculation centered around Zimmermann, but ownership did not make rotation cutbacks after making the major addition. That decision, Zimmermann said, was appreciated throughout the club." - "There's an air of excitement in Nationals' camp" - Mike Bauman, nationals.com
• "With the Grapefruit League opener now just two days away, the Washington Nationals went through a light workout day with everything wrapping up by noon on Tuesday." - "Daily Wrap: Max Scherzer tabbed for Grapefruit League opener, Tony Gwynn Jr. signs & more" - Amanda Comak, Curly W Live
• "Nationals right-hander Aaron Barrett is making sure that he doesn’t get tired like he did during the middle of the season last year." - "Nats’ Barrett making sure he doesn’t get tired" - All Nats All the Time
When the applause dies down, Matt corrects the crowd. "I meant the pitching." More applause, and laughter. He's killing it out here today.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 3, 2015
NATIONAL(S) BEAT + Nats' prospects + Carpenter honored
• "Next, we look at some of the infield prospects on the Nationals early camp roster. The minor leaguers' first game is March 12 at Houston." - "Nationals early camp prospect capsule: Infielders" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "To the strong core that won 96 games in 2014 they have added a top starting pitcher, Max Scherzer." - "Know Your Enemy: Washington Nationals" - Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue
• "The festival will include a tie-in with the Washington Nationals this year, with a Blossoms and Baseball exhibition game in which the Nats will play the New York Yankees." - "And the cherry blossom peak bloom dates are ..." - Rebecca Cooper, Washington Business Journal
• "One thing Carpenter is always aware of is that players are people who have friends and parents and siblings and occasionally children listening to the broadcasts." - "Tulsan Bob Carpenter Honored in Washington" - David Jones, GTR News
Russo yells stuff about Harper:
• "Harper is buying into the hyperbole that has engulfed the Nationals in recent springs. That’s worrisome because it’s only partly justified." - "Chris Russo to Bryce Harper: ‘You haven’t done ANYTHING’" - Dan Steinberg, The Washington Post
Harper took pictures of pretty epic swans connecting:
NL EAST UPDATES: Stanton's ST debut; Braves' pen:
• Phillies: "Ryan Howard could have come to Phillies camp last month in a miserable mood and with a scowl on his face." - "Howard focused on nothing but positives" - Todd Zolecki, phillies.com
• Mets: "Jon Niese barely survived last year’s intrasquad scrimmage, but that wasn’t a problem on Tuesday." - "Happy to be healthy, Niese shines in intrasquad scrimmage" - Mike Puma, New York Post
• Marlins: "Giancarlo Stanton will wait until Thursday for his first at-bat against opposition pitching since being struck in the face by a fastball Sept. 11." - "Giancarlo Stanton not in lineup for Marlins; will play Thurs. vs Cards" - Dave George, Fish Tank
• Braves: "Avilan, James Russell and Josh Outman appear to be the top left-handed candidates to fill what might just be two available spots in Atlanta's bullpen." - "Multiple southpaws vying for spot in Braves' bullpen" - Mark Bowman, braves.com