We sent our ideas for the Top 5 Spring Training Storylines for the 2017 Washington Nationals to SB Nation video artist Ryan Walton, and he sent back the video below, which counts them down. You can just go down there and see what they are, for a quick summary of what follows, but we thought we’d provide some text to go with moving images.
5. Is Stephen Strasburg past last year’s pronator tear?:
The early returns are positive. Strasburg is in camp, throwing (seemingly) without any limitations after his 2016 campaign ended in early September when the right-hander was diagnosed with a partially torn pronator in his right arm after initially landing on the DL with “elbow soreness” in August...
GM Mike Rizzo was quick to dismiss any concerns in an interview on Sirius XM’s Fantasy Sports’ hosts Jim Bowden and Craig Mish on Monday afternoon.
“Stras is a non-issue. He’s in his preparation-for-Opening Day-type of mode to prepare himself to pitch,” Rizzo said.
Asked is he’d handle Strasburg any differently this Spring, Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker said he was satisfied with how they handled the right-hander last time around.
“We handled him pretty good last Spring. What was he [13-0], that’s pretty good and then he ran into a little snag.”
Will Strasburg be able to avoid any snags this season?
4. Should we worry about Max Scherzer’s right ring finger?:
“I’ve dealt with aches and pains and strains and sprains, but this is a whole different ballgame. When you start dealing with a fracture, rest is really your only option and way of making it heal,” Max Scherzer told reporters last week in his first interview of the Spring.
Scherzer was throwing fastballs with a three-finger grip as he waits for the right ring finger to heal from a stress fracture that reportedly started as a sprain in late August last season, but he’s reportedly back to his normal grip and moving forward.
3. Who’s going to end up closing in D.C.?:
Will it be Shawn Kelley? Blake Treinen? Koda Glover? Rizzo said on Monday that in spite of the repeated attempts to sign a closer this winter, the Nationals believe that the in-house options will produce a reliable late inning arm.
“We’re going to go into camp and we think that our ninth inning performer is on the roster right now, they’re in camp right now,” Rizzo said on Monday.
Baker said that one thing is for sure: It won’t be closer-by-committee in the nation’s capital.
“I don’t like by-committee,” Baker explained, “because when the phone rings I want guys to know mentally when they might be in the game.”
2. Is this Dusty Baker’s last run in Washington, D.C.:
Dusty Baker would like an extension that will keep him on the bench in D.C. beyond the 2017 campaign. He doesn’t, however, want it to become a distraction.
“I mean, everybody likes security,” Baker told reporters, including Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo last week:
“Everybody likes to know what their future is going to be even though it doesn’t amount to much. But I’m very confident that we’d get things worked out. You’d like to do it sooner rather than later because I don’t want to be a distraction to my team.”
1. Will Bryce Harper make pitchers pay for 2016?:
Bryce Harper knows what was wrong last year that led to his struggles on offense, but he’s not telling reporters (or opposing pitchers) what it was.
“I know exactly why,” he said this past weekend when asked why he struggled.
“But that’s all last year and that’s what you go through and you build and you grow and you try to maintain and that’s what I’m going to try to do again this year.”
Baker said he’s excited to work with Harper again in their second season together in D.C.
“He’s a pretty cool little dude,” Baker said. “He’s pretty hip on a lot of fronts. He listens to his variety of music and how he dresses.
“He’s not afraid to be Bryce. I think he knows himself probably better than most 23-year-olds do. I enjoy being around him.
“What you see is what you get. You don’t any get fakeness out of Bryce and he’s easy to deal with.”