Day 2 of Spring Training gave new Washington Nationals' manager Dusty Baker a chance to look at his players in action for the first time. As Baker told reporters in Viera, Florida once the first workouts of the season were done, the 66-year-old skipper was impressed with what he saw.
"Everybody looked in good shape," Baker said. "This is [what] I'm looking for and they were like, I mean the pitchers were throwing hard and I was surprised by the shape that a lot of guys came in because I don't really know a lot of these guys and so I tell you it was a very good first day."
Asked what he could see in these early throwing sessions and what he's looking for early, Baker explained his approach to early evaluations.
"First thing I look for are body types," he said. "We've got some horses out there and we've got a lot of left-handers. We're deep in catching. This organization has done a... great job of scouting and signing their players.
"Especially, I don't really know in-depth on what a great job they've done, but other people that are here from different organizations -- Jacque Jones was in the Padres' organization, Mike Maddux was in the Rangers' organization and he told me the same thing. So you start seeing this and you go, 'Woo!' We've got a good thing going here."
Baker said he saw some other positive signs early that the Nationals are willing to challenge each other.
"Everybody worked hard, like I said, they were all working, having fun in competition, blocking balls and covering first base and [Jonathan Papelbon] got on Gio [Gonzalez] because he messed up a couple times out there, he said, 'Do it again!' and I was like, 'Man that's the kind of stuff I kind of like because I don't have to say it.' When your players get on each other, that's a sign to me of a good team."
As for what something like that can tell him about the culture and the players he's getting to know?
"These guys, they like each other and that's big, real big," he said. "That's real big. I'm just here to enhance what they've already got going and started. I just urge the veterans to take the youngsters under their wing, because we've got some guys here with world champion experience. And that's something that you can't really describe until you've been there, but it helps the fact that they can give these guys an idea what it's going to take to get back there. That helps big time.
"They can tell you the sacrifice and tell you -- I remember when I was playing, it was easier for another player to tell me what to expect than a coach to tell me, kind of. Like I said, when I was playing with Hank Aaron, he would tell me, 'Look for the slider on the outside. I'm going to do this and do that...' and he'd do it and I'd emulate him versus, I can tell you what to do, but if I can tell you what to do and then show you what to do, that makes it, that course of success comes much easier."