Feb 19, 2014; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) leads his group of pitchers in spring training action at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: 2/23


Spring training is in full swing for the Nationals, with the team having it’s first live batting practice session on Saturday. Things should really start to pick up in Viera over the next few days, and the Nationals will kickoff their Grapefruit League schedule against the Mets next Friday. Until then, here are some great reads by our fellow Washington Nationals writers/bloggers to start your day:

Camp confidential: Inside the Washington Nationals

Paul White, USA Today

Who they’re watching

They’re all watching first-time manager Matt Williams.

No other manager in the majors could be more pivotal in his team’s fortunes this year than the ultra-organized, often-intense former third baseman.

It’s a big flip-flop from the low-key Davey Johnson, who took most of the same players to the playoffs in 2012 and through a disappointing 2013 before he retired.

So, who are the real Nationals? The talent level on the roster indicates it should be the ’12 version. Were they too complacent last year? Still reeling from their stunning Game 5 loss in the 2012 Division Series? Or just playing like a team with a lame-duck manager even though it was a guy they professed to respect?

Enter Williams and the unknown quantity of what he’ll bring and how he’ll bring it.

“The intensity was there,” pitcher Stephen Strasburg said of Williams’ initial speech on the first day of camp. “It got me fired up.” Read full article here.

For Nationals and other big leaguers, finding the right weight can be the hardest part

Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

VIERA, Fla. — Drew Storen reported last year to Washington Nationals spring training slimmed down, toned and in better shape than he could remember. He spent this winter making sure he wouldn’t make the same mistake.

In baseball, Storen discovered, superlative physical condition can be a miscalculation. He withered to as low as 175 pounds during the summer. His energy waned and he struggled to recover between games. Before this winter, Storen had never weighed more than 185 pounds. He weighs 200 pounds now, thick through the neck and chest, and he thinks he will be better because of it.

“You kind of need to have a little meat to get through the rigors of the season,” Storen said. “I kind of like it. I feel way better.” Read full article here.

Williams gets schooled on new challenge system

Mark Zuckerman, Comcast Sportsnet

VIERA, Fla. — Expanded instant replay is coming to baseball this season, and Matt Williams has now been schooled on many more details of the new system MLB is implementing that allows managers to officially challenge blown calls on the field.

Williams joined fellow managers Fredi Gonzalez, Bo Porter and Brad Ausmus in Kissimmee on Friday afternoon for a 2 1/2-hour meeting with MLB officials, including Joe Torre, on the new system and came away much more knowledgeable about the process.

“They came with a full presentation, including video and examples,” he said. “It was really informative.” Read full article here.

Lefty pitching prospect Purke gets tips from Livo

Bill Ladson, MLB.com

VIERA, Fla. — Nationals coach and ambassador Livan Hernandezwatched left-hander Matt Purke throw his first live bullpen session on Saturday.

After Purke was done, Hernandez told the left-hander that he was getting lazy with his front side when he was throwing his breaking ball.

“He wanted me to stay strong on the offspeed and [follow] through,” Purke said. “That way, those pitches would be up and over the plate. He said if you don’t keep it strong, it’s going to go down every time. Nobody will swing at it.” Read full article here.

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