Spring training is moving quickly for the Washington Nationals. Just over ten days after pitchers and catchers reported to Viera, the Nationals have already begun live batting practice as they continue the busy schedule planned out weeks in advance by new manager Matt Williams.
Things should only get busier for the Nationals over the next few days, as the team is scheduled to kickoff its Grapefruit League schedule this Friday. Before I go any further, I should probably point out that these games mean absolutely nothing. No home field advantage, no trophies and, most importantly, no impact on the regular season standings. Think of Grapefruit League play as a month of NFL Pro Bowls and NBA All-Star games, only better because, well, it’s baseball.
How teams perform during Spring exhibition games rarely has any correlation with how the team plays in the regular season. While big league players do make appearances in these games, most teams are made up of players who won’t end up anywhere near the Opening Day roster.
That being said, this year’s spring training season will be very important for some Nationals players who hope to be with the big league team on Opening Day. Whether it’s Danny Espinosa, Ryan Mattheus, Xavier Cedeno, Tyler Moore, Jamey Carroll, Mike Fontenot, Christian Garcia or really anyone else who didn’t have a big year in 2013, I can all but guarantee you they’ll be approaching each spring training appearance as if the game was on the line in October.
The Opening Day statuses of these players are just some of the many questions that the Nationals still have to answer this spring, and there’s no better time to answer those questions than during the meaningless exhibition games that make up the month of March.
The Nationals kickoff their 31 game slate (including split-squad) this Friday against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, before returning to Viera for their home opener March 1 against the Braves. The Nationals will face Atlanta five times this spring, National League East teams 14 times, American League teams 11 times and the Cardinals four times. Other games of note: Mar. 11 vs. Yankees in Viera, Mar. 29 vs. Tigers at Nationals Park.
As of Monday night, it is still unknown what the Nationals’ starting rotation will be for the first few games. We’ll make sure to keep you updated here at District on Deck as that information will likely be released within the next few days. Find the Nationals’ complete 2014 Grapefruit League schedule here. A Nationals’ TV and radio broadcast schedule for the games can be found here.