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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals at Spring Training 2021; Max Scherzer ankle injury + more Nats news...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you wait to find out which player showed up ITBSOHL...

Davey Martinez cares. He cares about his players. He cares about fans of the Nationals. It’s part of the manager’s charm. He’s invested in the nation’s capital. He may be in West Palm Beach right now, while the D.C. faithful are dealing with some winter weather, but in a talk with reporters on Thursday, he was asked if he empathized with everyone in Washington.

“Hey turn that heat on,” Martinez joked. “We feel pretty good down here. I think it was 80° today, so it’s kind of nice.”

Martinez!!!!! Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Scherzer Stories:

Strasburg back to normal, but Scherzer has sprained ankle - (MASN)
"While Stephen Strasburg has fully recovered from last summer’s right wrist surgery and is fully participating at workouts, Max Scherzer is not throwing for now after spraining his left ankle two weeks ago."

Scherzer starting slow after sprained ankle - (MLB.com)
"There usually isn’t an 'easing into' Spring Training period for Max Scherzer. When it’s up to him, he’s ready to jump into a new season of competition at full speed."

If the MLB playoffs are expanded, Max Scherzer wants to try a round-robin format - (WaPost)
“Max Scherzer is on MLB's rules committee and has suggested this idea to the players' union.”

Soto Stories:

Is Juan Soto next in line for an extension? - (MLB.com)
“One of baseball’s brightest young stars just landed one of the biggest contracts in the game’s history. Could Juan Soto be next in line?”

Dave Martinez confident Nationals added enough protection for Juan Soto in the lineup - (NBC Sports Washington)
"For a batter as prolific as the 22-year-old phenom, the only solution for pitchers in 2020 was to walk him, and by all accounts, it worked."

Mike Rizzo: Nationals still in ‘early stages’ of Juan Soto extension talks - (NBC Sports Washington)
"The Nationals want to keep Juan Soto in D.C. for his entire career, but negotiations on a contract extension have been stagnant since the coronavirus pandemic began."

Other Nationals Stories:

Nats say Stephen Strasburg no longer in ‘rehabilitation mode’ from surgery - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Strasburg, 32, appeared in just two games last season before a nerve issue in his throwing hand forced the Nationals to shut him down."

Pitchers and catchers reporting is spring training magic - (WaPost)
“‘Pitchers and catchers report’ are magic words, and even a pandemic can’t take away that perennial joy.”

Nats never pursued other third basemen, confident in Kieboom - (MASN)
"One by one, Mike Rizzo crossed off five must-have items on his offseason wish list this winter."

Martinez, Rizzo on Nats' goals - (MLB.com)
"Nationals manager Dave Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo talk about the club's goals for 2021 and opening camp."

Washington Nationals back on the diamond in Florida for 1st day of Spring Training - (WJLA)
"It probably feels like a lifetime ago, but this time last year, the Washington Nationals were coming off a World Series titles, basking in the euphoria."

Mike Rizzo loves the Nats having a starting rotation full of 'alpha males' - (NBC Sports Washington)
"Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo knows a thing or two about the value of competitive aces heading up his teams' pitching staffs."

Nationals find bits of normalcy as spring training begins in West Palm Beach - (WaPost)
“The players are split into three clubhouses, masks are required inside, and every other day players, coaches and staffers will be tested for the coronavirus.”

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

Who will sign the next mega-extension? - (MLB.com)
"Trea Turner, SS, Nationals, age 27 - Eligible for free agency after the 2022 season - At some point, the Nationals will do what it takes to extend one of their offensive stars, right?"

Why these five MLB stars, including Christian Yelich and Pete Alonso, will bounce back in 2021 - (CBSSports.com)
"Of the five players in this post, Nationals ace Max Scherzer is the player I'm least confident in rebounding in 2021..."

NL EAST UPDATES:

J.T. Realmuto’s injury, though not serious, is a reminder of his indispensability - (NBC Sports Washington)
"All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, whose departure from the lineup with a hip injury coincided with the team’s September collapse last season, has been diagnosed with a broken right thumb."

Mets' Marcus Stroman ready for season despite long layoff - (NY Post)
"Marcus Stroman hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game in almost 17 months, but to him the notion he needs to build up to any level is heresy."

Alcantara looks to lead, mentor Marlins in '21 - (MLB.com)
"Though he's only 25, Sandy Alcantara is the most experienced arm in the Marlins' projected 2021 rotation."

Snitker mulling closer role, batting order - (MLB.com)
"The Braves' bullpen will assume a different look with [Mark] Melancon in San Diego and Darren O’Day with the Yankees."