All remaining position players have reported to the Washington Nationals’ spring training complex in Viera, Florida, marking yet another milestone on the team’s path to opening day.
While most position players had already arrived to camp– some as early as last week– several players, including outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, made their first appearance in camp this morning.
Bryce Harper has arrived. Jayson Werth is around, and Rafael Soriano throwing for 1st time. Gang’s all here. pic.twitter.com/9i4x1dR8O2
— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) February 18, 2014
While trading for Jose Lobaton likely ended the backup catcher competition before it began, several questions still remain for a few spots on the opening day roster. Among these is the competition for the starting second base job, which according to manager Matt Williams, will be an ‘open competition’ between Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa.
The loser between Rendon and Espinosa would likely make the team as a bench player, but that player may have to compete with the likes of Jamey Carroll and Mike Fontenot if he struggles badly this spring.
Another story to keep an eye on this spring will be the bullpen, where Josh Roenicke, Luis Ayala, Ryan Mattheus, Xavier Cedeno, Sammy Solis, Christian Garcia and Clay Hensley will likely compete for the remaining two spots. To make things even more difficult for those guys, the three who miss out on the fifth rotation spot will likely be thrown into the mix as well.
While spring training officially started several days ago, the countdown to opening day starts today. General manager Mike Rizzo had a busy offseason, making an already talented team even better. But as good as Rizzo was, his moves are only part of it. Now it is up to new manager Matt Williams to use the talent at his disposal to put together a championship-caliber opening day roster. Once he does that, whether or not the team lives up to its lofty expectations will be up to the players.
It’s no secret that many people in baseball have chosen the Nationals to play deep into the playoffs. But October is eight months away, and the Nationals still have a lot of business to take care of between now and March 31. It’ll be a long 41 days for Nationals fans, but opening day is coming… and it’s coming fast.