Position players have reported. Juan Soto is back. Howie Kendrick is having fun again. It feels like summer in February, folks — just four days until the first game, during which we get an exhilarating three innings of major league players.
Here’s what’s fresh from Florida:
Nats VP Doug Harris needed help to beat cancer a second time. He found it in the game. (WaPo)
Harris had already beaten leukemia once. But it showed back up last Spring Training, prompting the Nats' front office and countless players and fans to chip in to get Harris a new treatment (CAR T-cell treatment), which cost a pretty penny. After a long treatment, large needles, and a sold World Series ring, Harris is healthy again.
Washington Nationals' Juan Soto arrives for his first major league spring training (WaPo)
After a year full of firsts, Soto finally ticked the last one off the typical rookie list: first big-league Spring Training. He organized his bats, helmets, cleats, and whatnot before Howie Kendrick (and everyone else) organized for a gaggle.
Juan Soto arrives at Nationals Spring Training (MLB.com)
Steamer—traditionally conservative in its predictions—thinks Soto will hit 27 homers and accrue 4.3 WAR, even though pitchers may try new strategies to attack him. But his improved defense and relaxed attitude (which may have transformed into a little less quiet and reserved than before) could help him go even further.
Howie Kendrick healthy at Nationals camp (MLB.com)
"As of right now, I'm going to go out with the team and do everything everyone else is doing," Kendrick said. "I think they are going to modify my running a little bit, I guess. I haven't really talked much with them about it, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm able to do all baseball activities. I'm confident in where my Achilles is and like I said, I feel good about it." (Also, Victor Robles may live towards the bottom of the lineup, potentially even hitting ninth, if he cracks the Opening Day roster.)
Juan-derful: Soto drawing Trout comparisons in highly-anticipated sophomore season (The Athletic)
From his signature move (shuffling back towards the pitcher with a smile after taking a ball) to his improving defense to his Mike Trout comparisons, Juan Soto has grown into a star-in-the-making in the Nats' clubhouse.
Nats Catcher Depth Chart; whole system (Nationals Arm Race)
The Nats haven’t started a homegrown catcher since Brian Schneider in 2007. But who’s behind Gomes and Suzuki? Pedro Severino doesn’t look ready for primetime, nor does Spencer Kieboom — but Raudy Read, despite the PED allegations, could have a future. Tres Barrera and Taylor Gushue have shots as well, while Israel Pineda in Hagerstown could be around in three or four years.
Kendrick "ready to go" on first day of Spring Training (MASN)
After Kendrick ruptured his achilles last May, questions arose regarding his readiness for the 2019 season. Yesterday, Kendrick answered those questions: "everything has been good." He's running, getting going, and, according to Davey Martinez, is in "one of the best shapes he's ever been."
Washington Nationals move on from Bryce Harper (sort of) (USA Today)
“I think everyone can feel him,” says outfielder Adam Eaton before the Nationals’ first full-squad workout Monday. “He’s been a staple of our organization for six, seven years plus. You don’t just leave and not leave a little residue behind.”
Pressure and patience key words upon Juan Soto's arrival at Spring Training (NBCSW)
Juan Soto is just trying to stay grounded as the pressure ratchets up tenfold this season, though he says he doesn't quite feel it. (Also, Victor Robles' locker is apparently directly next to Soto's.)
Bryce Harper is the biggest story at Phillies camp, even though he’s not a Phillie or in camp (WaPo)
Gabe Kapler knows about as much as we do regarding Bryce Harper's future, according to him: that is to say, not all that much. The Phillies all want both Harper and Machado, but are going on with life—including Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto—anyway.
New Era to eliminate over 200 union jobs at its on-field cap making factory (HardballTalk)
New Era will move from its longtime manufacturing headquarters in Western New York to Florida, eliminating longstanding union labor from its manufacturing process — and Sean Doolittle, as both an American citizen and MLBPA union member, wasn't pleased.
After sensational rookie season, Soto ready for added pressure (MASN)
Soto walked into the West Palm big league clubhouse for the first time yesterday. Yeah, you read that right — and this year, he's garnering Mike Trout comparisons from Howie Kendrick.
The Yankees’ complete lack of interest in Bryce Harper is alarming (Pinstripe Alley)
Sure, they have too many outfielders. Sure, he may be overrated. Sure, they may want to extend their young guys later. But Harper solves a plethora of future problems the team would face when they lose outfielders and can't extend their guys — in other words, "baseball is broken. The Yankees failing to court one of the game’s best players should sound every alarm."