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MLB Opening Day 2016: Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker still has difficult decisions to make

With two exhibition games remaining before Opening Day, Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker still has a few tough decisions to make. Who fills the last bullpen spot or two? Baker has talked about getting to know his relievers better so he can decide...

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Washington Post writer James Wagner reported on Twitter that a source told him the Atlanta Braves might have interest in left-handed reliever Sean Burnett if he doesn't make the Washington Nationals' Opening Day roster.

Burnett, 33, has thrown 8 ⅔ scoreless this Spring, giving up six hits and a walk in nine appearances, over which he's held hitters to a combined .200 AVG as he attempts to come back from his second Tommy John surgery.

"Whoever we don't keep. I'm not so possessive of a person that you wouldn't want them to be in the big leagues someplace else." -Dusty Baker on the tough roster decisions he has to make

He's one of three relievers, along with Blake Treinen and Trevor Gott, competing for the final spot, or two, in the Nats' bullpen as Opening Day approaches and the Nationals leave Florida for the nation's capital.

Burnett, who can opt out of his deal with Washington on April 1st, isn't the only player on the bubble with the Nationals drawing interest from outside the organization.

Dusty Baker talked earlier this month about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which other teams make their interest known.

"Whoever we don't keep," Baker explained, "I'm not so possessive of a person that you wouldn't want them to be in the big leagues someplace else.

"Like I tell our guys, I'm for you being in the big leagues. I'd rather have you with me at some point in time, but I'm for you being in the big leagues. And you look around, there is room for all of them someplace. And I tell my guys, I said, 'Hey look guys, there's somebody watching you all the time.'

"There's scouts up there and I've had scouts ask me, 'Oh, man, what do you think about...' and they try to be slick, 'What do you think about so and so...?' or, 'What's your opinion of this guy?' C'mon now, I know what you're doing. I don't blame them, they're doing their job. I'd say be a little more direct about it, then I wouldn't have to tell them no."

"Which guys are going to walk the first guy? Which guys love pressure. Which guys are better starting the inning off and which guys are terrible with runners inherited and which guys relish the situation of runners inherited?" -Dusty Baker on getting to know his pitchers

Gott, Burnett and Treinen got work in on Wednesday in the final Grapefruit League game, with Gott giving up three hits in two scoreless innings, Burnett striking out two in a scoreless frame and Treinen retiring two batters before handing it over to Felipe Rivero, who gave up a walk and a single but completed a scoreless inning.

Gott's two-inning outing gave him nine innings of work total on the Spring, over which he's allowed nine hits, two walks and three earned runs while striking out six and holding opposing hitters to a .273 AVG.

Treinen has thrown 8 ⅔ scoreless in Grapefruit League action, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out eight batters and holding hitters to a .143 AVG.

Burnett has an opt out as mentioned. Gott and Treinen both have options remaining. Baker said last week that he was going to take all the time he could to get to know his relievers.

"You've got to remember, I haven't seen [Felipe] Rivero in real action," he explained. "I've seen [Jonathan] Papelbon, but I haven't seen Rivero, I haven't seen Treinen. I haven't seen a number of these guys in real time, in real action.

"Which guys are going to walk the first guy? Which guys love pressure.

"Which guys are better starting the inning off and which guys are terrible with runners inherited and which guys relish the situation of runners inherited? You've got to find some of that out in action."

Baker told reporters after Wednesday's Grapefruit League finale he was still learning.

"It's tougher here, because I've had six weeks to learn people," Baker said, as quoted by MASNSports.com's Mark Zuckerman:

"It's always tough on a new team. On other teams, you've got a year or two of experience with those players. Or I had seen them in the minor leagues and I'd seen their progress. Here, I had to go on hearsay or attitudes, how they look, the opinions of the organization."

One or two more bullpen spots. The last spot on the Nationals' bench. Baker still has some tough decisions to make and just a few days to make them.