Mar 3, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Robert Coello (62) pitches in the top of the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals in a spring training exhibition game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: 3/5

Checkout some great reads from our fellow Washington Nationals writers:

Spring Training mind games? Definitely, maybe

(Paul Hagen, MLB.com)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — On paper, the Braves and Nationals are the top dogs in the National League East. They’ll face each other 19 times in the regular season and, quite possibly, again in October with a trip to the World Series on the line.

Their Grapefruit League camps are only about an hour apart, too. So Tuesday’s 8-4 Atlanta win at Champion Stadium was the second of five March meetings this year.

It’s been said that familiarity breeds contempt. In this case, it at least raises the question of whether it’s possible to treat these Spring Training encounters the same as a random encounter with, say, the Twins.

Most players would have you believe that it’s all about getting your work in and it doesn’t matter what laundry the opposition is wearing. Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg pitched two innings Tuesday. He could get four, five or even six starts against Atlanta in the regular season. Ditto for Kris Medlenof the Braves, who worked three innings. He projects to get multiple assignments against Washington.

Both young stars insisted they didn’t change anything because of that. Which is gospel. Probably. Maybe. Because, think about it. If they were running some sort of misdirection play, the last thing they’d do is talk about it now. That would sort of spoil the whole point, wouldn’t it? Read full article here.

Strasburg brings new pitch, renewed focus into ’14

(Joe Morgan, MLB.com)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Add another weapon to Stephen Strasburg‘s arsenal, as the right-hander debuted his slider on Tuesday afternoon against the Braves at Champion Stadium in his first Grapefruit League outing of 2014.

He threw the pitch three times in two scoreless innings, clocking in at 86 mph on the first two before dialing it up to 88 mph on the third. He developed the offspeed pitch to help disguise his fastball, which topped out at 96 mph on Tuesday.

“I wanted it to look as much like a fastball as possible, so if I get a little bit of movement, that’s all I’m really looking for,” Strasburg said of the slider. “I’m not going to dump my other offspeed pitches for it. It’s just going to be something to keep them from cheating to the fastball as much.” Read full article here.

For Washington Nationals, there are eyes, deep flies and statistics

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Baseball is overflowing with statistical ways to evaluate a player’s performance. Measures such as win-loss record and earned run average for pitchers and batting average and runs batted in for hitters have been augmented in recent years by more advanced metrics such as Fielding Independent Pitching and Wins Above Replacement.

But what statistics do players and coaches rely on for personal evaluation? An informal survey of Washington Nationals offers a glimpse into what skills they value.

“There are so many different stats out there nowadays I honestly don’t even know half the time,” reliever Tyler Clippard said. “I read articles, and I don’t even know what these guys are talking. fWAR-plus or ERA+, I don’t even know what those things mean. And I don’t really care to because I’m kind of like old-school-type mind-set where I just go out there and do well, and all that other weird statistical stuff will fall into place.” Read full article here. (I highly recommend this article to anyone who is obsessed with saber metrics. Very interesting stuff!)

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