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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals’ plans for top prospects; Joe Ross determined to use voice; + more Nats links...

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Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news before you figure out how you’ll make it through the next 24 hours...

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Nationals Park Media Tour Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

What is the plan for top prospects in the Nationals’ organization now that Spring Training is over and the big club is back in Washington, D.C. The minor league season won’t start until May, so what will the Jackson Rutledges and Cade Cavallis of the world be doing in the next month?

“They’ll start off in Fredericksburg, [Virginia],” manager Davey Martinez told reporters on the morning of the final Grapefruit League game on Monday. “Yesterday I talked about — there’s going to be some games down there with the [Baltimore] Orioles as of right now, so they’ll get to pitch in the games, we want to continue their development, so they’ll start off there until the minor leagues start and we figure out where we’re going to send them.”

Before things wrapped up, Cavalli was asked to do one more thing — oh, that’s right, we told the haircut stories yesterday. Oh well. Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Mark Lerner says Nationals have reached out to Juan Soto for contract extension - (NBC Sports Washington)
"However, team owner Mark Lerner told ABC 7's Scott Abraham that the team is making an effort to keep Soto in D.C. for a long time."

'We'll try our best': Mark Lerner on the Nats' efforts to sign Soto to a long-term deal - (WJLA)
"ABC7 sports anchor Scott Abraham talked with Mark D. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner and Vice Chairman of the Washington Nationals about Soto's long-term future with the club."

Nats Park Opening Day 2021 fan guide - (MLB.com)
"On Opening Day, 5,000 fans will be welcomed into Nats Park when the Nationals host the Mets at 7:09 p.m. ET on Thursday."

The 3 best and worst MLB Opening Day pitching matchups - (NBC Sports Washington)
"1. Max Scherzer (Nationals) vs. Jacob deGrom (Mets) - Five combined Cy Youngs. Ten combined All-Star appearances. Two bonafide aces. Need we say more?"

Biden will not throw first pitch at Nationals opening day - (Washington Times)
"President Biden will not throw the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday’s opening day at Nationals Park, a team spokesperson confirmed."

What we made too big a deal about and what we glossed over - (MASN)
"The Nationals woke up this morning in Washington. Spring training is officially over, and the final countdown to opening night is on."

Joe Ross, who opted out of 2020 season, is ready to speak on diversity, inclusion - (WaPost)
“Then it’s like, you only want to listen to people who are successful? Okay, I’ll go and be successful.”

Max Scherzer ready for what could be his final Nationals opening day start - (Washington Times)
"Scherzer was saddled with the loss, even though he gave up no earned runs. A hit following an error led to two unearned runs for the New York Mets, spoiling an otherwise standout beginning to Scherzer’s Washington career."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

What Different Sports Media Are Predicting for the Washington Nationals' 2021 Record - (Washingtonian)
"As the Washington Nationals make their final preparations for Thursday’s Opening Day game, the local fanbase is wondering what sort of season it will be."

Nats reliever and Minnesota native Brad Hand grew up a fan of Alex Ovechkin - (WTOP)
"When Brad Hand signed with the Nationals over the offseason, he wasn’t thinking about their neighboring NHL team."

The 2021 Aces Project: Industry insiders rank MLB's starting pitchers by tiers, from No. 1s to 'guys' – (The Athletic)
"Scherzer dealt with back issues in 2019. He was more prone to hits and walks in 2020. But the industry still considers him a titan. Even as he ages, his results shine."

NL EAST UPDATES:

Pete Alonso says Mets should 'pay' Francisco Lindor - (New York Daily News)
"Francisco Lindor received a polar bear-sized endorsement – his biggest one yet – from a teammate who wants the Mets to open their checkbook and give the shortstop whatever he wants."

Phillies' starting rotation depth won't likely include Spencer Howard - (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Howard will begin the season in Lehigh Valley, but even after he gets to the majors, the Phillies intend to use him in short stints out of the bullpen to gradually build his arm strength."

Miami Marlins GM Kim Ng says 'Failure is not an option for me' - (ESPN)
"For Ng, so far so good. She left an executive position with Major League Baseball to join the Marlins, the long-downtrodden franchise on the upswing since Jeter's ownership group took over in 2017."

Braves vs. Phillies 2021 Opening Day preview - (MLB.com)
"Atlanta’s pursuit of a four-peat begins Thursday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park."