Dusty Baker talked to reporters on Monday, after the Washington Nationals' second intrasquad game of the Spring, about how the two exhibitions helped prepare his players for the first competitive action of the season.
"I think the guys are going to feel more comfortable going into the Grapefruit League because they've had a couple of them," Baker said. He added that they would be happy to play games against other teams as well.
"It's tough to pitch against your own team," he explained. "It's real tough. So, at least they got their feet wet, we got everybody -- we came out healthy, which is the no.1 thing."
In an interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. on Monday afternoon, General Manager Mike Rizzo talked to Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier about what's different this Spring as the Nationals prepare for the 2016 campaign.
"I think that you have different personnel," Rizzo said.
"You've got a different lineup, you've got a different bullpen, you've got some different positions players, so the makeup of the ballclub is different, the construction of the roster is different.
"I think there are different skill sets that have been interchanged. [Ian Desmond] leaves, [Daniel] Murphy comes and we've got different replacements and moving parts.
"We were third in runs scored last year in the National League, so that's a tough place to upgrade, but we think that we should have a different type of style, maybe more efficient offensively than we've had in the past.
"We still run out five guys that we think have a chance to win on a nightly basis and we feel that we've got a stable of good, hard-throwing arms in the bullpen that can shut down a team late in the game."
Baker, on Tuesday afternoon, after the Nationals' final workouts before Grapefruit League games get underway this afternoon, talked about the importance of keeping everyone healthy over the first few weeks of the Spring.
"This is a very volatile time for hamstrings, shoulders," Baker told reporters, as quoted by MASNSports.com's Mark Zuckerman:
"Guys early in the spring - I don't care how you practice - you never really go full-out like you do in the games, except for the guys trying to make the team. I urged my guys to go hard but not do anything crazy, and build up to where you can go 100 percent."
While Baker is going to work some of the regulars into the lineup for tomorrow's home opener of the Spring, the team he's sending to Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida is a mix of young Nats and potential bench options.
Trea Turner is leading off against the Tampa Bay Rays, with infield prospect Wilmer Difo batting second followed by Matt den Dekker, Tyler Moore, Michael Taylor, Chris Heisey, Jason Martinson, Jose Lobaton and Spencer Kieboom.
Tanner Roark takes the hill against the Rays in the first Grapefruit League game and he'll be followed on the mound by right-hander Joe Ross.
It's the first game of the Spring, but it's live baseball at least at 1:05 PM EST from Port Charlotte.