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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals get Jon Lester on mound; Kyle Schwarber hits a homer + more Nats links...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you wait for the start of tonight’s Grapefruit League game...

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Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Before Kyle Schwarber homered in yesterday’s game, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked to reporters about what he’s seen from the left fielder who signed as a free agent over the winter.

Schwarber has struggled at the plate this season, while reworking his stance, but his former bench coach in Chicago and current manager in D.C. likes what he’s seen from the slugger.

“When I first met Kyle he hit the ball all over the place,” Martinez said. “He has tremendous power to left-center field, and I want him to stay in the middle of the field. We know what he can do if he pulls the ball, but if he stays in the middle of the field he is going to be really good, so my big thing with him, when I talk to him before games is to tell him, hey, make sure he swings at strikes, and you stay in the middle of the field and we’re going to be in great shape.”

A couple hours later, Schwarber homered for the second time this spring, and the first time since March 3rd, and his 1 for 3 game left him 4 for 24 (.167/.310/.458) in Grapefruit League action this spring.

Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Lester debuts as National:

Less than 2 weeks post-surgery, Lester makes Nationals debut - (Washington Times)
"Jon Lester was back on a mound Thursday, wearing a Washington Nationals uniform while facing opposing batters for the first time in spring training and striking out a couple during his two innings, less than two weeks after surgery to remove a parathyroid gland."

Butterflies or not, Lester pleased with delayed spring debut - (MASN)
"The butterflies were perhaps fluttering even more than usual Wednesday night and this morning as Lester anticipated his 2021 debut."

Jon Lester Nationals Spring Training debut - (MLB.com)
"Lester’s spring ramp-up was halted this month when he elected to undergo a parathyroidectomy (the removal of a parathyroid gland) in New York to alleviate hyperparathyroidism."

Other Nats Stories:

Strasburg will start on schedule, but in simulated game - (MASN)
"Strasburg will throw four innings in a simulated game against teammates prior to the Nationals’ official 6:05 p.m. exhibition against the Astros, manager Davey Martinez revealed this morning."

Alec Bohm vs. Brian Anderson vs. J.D. Davis: Who’s the best 3B in the NL East? - (NBC Sports Washington)
"The NL East has a mix of under-the-radar veterans and former top prospects starting at third base this year. How do they rank heading into the 2021 season?"

Questions loom about Nationals pitchers as Opening Day approaches - (WaPost)
“At the end of spring training, this Thursday and Friday — March 18 and 19 — could prove critical for a Washington Nationals team with a list of pitching questions.”

MLB crowd size should be determined by science - (WaPost)
“The D.C. government decided to allow the Washington Nationals to have 5,000 fans at their Opening Day game April 1, the first pro sports event in the city in more than a year with any fans allowed.”

Tres Barrera gives Nationals depth at catcher - (MLB.com)
"Barrera, the Nats’ No. 19 prospect per MLB Pipeline, has appeared in eight Grapefruit League games. The 26-year-old is on their 40-man roster."

Luis Garcia is still developing, so the Nationals won't rush him to the majors - (Washington Times)
"Garcia has always felt confident, ever since he was a little kid. But playing 40 games for the Nationals as a 20-year-old reinforced that, as did his .276 batting average."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

Fantasy Baseball 2021: Draft or fade these polarizing hitters? - (Yahoo!Sports)
"The Nats are giving Robles a shot at leading off, and he’s looked the part through a limited March sample..."

MASN will air two Orioles, two Nats exhibition games at end of month: Sources – (The Athletic)
"The Nationals, sources say, have their final two Grapefruit League games televised on MASN: March 28 versus the St. Louis Cardinals and March 29 against the Houston Astros."

NL EAST UPDATES:

‘Tough calls’ loom for spots on Braves’ opening-day roster - (AJC.com)
"The Braves’ spring training schedule gave them a day off Thursday, exactly two weeks before the season opener."

Sandy Alcantara named Opening Day 2021 starter - (MLB.com)
"With exactly two weeks until the 2021 season begins, the Marlins on Thursday announced Sandy Alcantara as their Opening Day starter."

Phillies pitching updates and roster predictions - (MLB.com)
"The top concern might be the recent back issues of right-handers Zach Eflin and Spencer Howard, although the Phillies do not sound concerned about Eflin."

Mets' Noah Syndergaard hits 96 mph while "not 100%," Luis Rojas says | Newsday
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Even sidelined by surgery, Noah Syndergaard comes up with feats of heat. He touched 96 mph while "not at 100%" on Thursday, manager Luis Rojas said. The bullpen session was his