Mar 16, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA;Washington Nationals second baseman Jeff Kobernus (26) makes a play against the Detroit Tigers in spring training action at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: Nats News 3/17

Start off your week with some great Washington Nationals articles from around the web:

Taking a swing at the Washington Nationals’ opening day lineup

(Thomas Boswell, Washington Post)

With opening day two weeks away, the Washington Nationals now face their hardest puzzle. It’s not their fifth starter or their final bench players. What is their batting order?

If you like baseball brain teasers, the Nats’ lineup is one of the trickiest you’ll find. For the past two years, their lack of chemistry and batting-order synergy has helped relegate the Nats to 10th and 15th place in the majors in runs scored.

If the Nats’ offensive sum is again less than the apparent talent of their players, then the lack of a lineup in which abilities interlock likely will be a villain. Now it’s Matt Williams’s turn to ponder; there’s nothing like getting the final exam on the first day of school. Read full article here.

Anthony Rendon bulks up in preparation for Washington Nationals season

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

IN VIERA, FLA. — In his three seasons at Rice University, before the Washington Nationals selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Anthony Rendon built a reputation for possessing the sweetest swing among amateur baseball players. He was named national college player of the year as a sophomore, reached base more than 50 percent of the time and had a slugging percentage of .801 in one season. He accomplished all this with an unimposing 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame. He cared little about weight training and conditioning.

“I was just trying to put in the work and not really working out,” he said Saturday. “I had the weight, but it wasn’t good weight. I really didn’t buy into the weightlifting.”

It’s a regret Rendon, 23, holds to this day. Since then, however, he has dedicated himself to better preparing his body for professional baseball. After injuries throughout his career, he wants to stay as healthy as possible. He has added 18 pounds since the end of last season thanks to an intense offseason lifting program under Houston-based trainer Ben Fairchild, who marvels at Rendon’s cat-like reflexes and strength.

Rendon is 199 pounds, the heaviest he has played at, but his body fat is down to 8.5 percent, and he says he feels amazing. He played 134 games last season between the minor and major leagues, and his body felt the grind. Although he is competing for the Nationals’ starting second baseman’s job, he has prepared his body for the 162-game marathon of what may be his first full season in the majors. Read full article here.

A first time at first: Ryan Zimmerman switches corners

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

Before Sunday’s spring training game, Nationals Manager Matt Williams warned Ryan Zimmerman, a fixture at third for the franchise since he arrived in the majors in 2005, that his anticipated debut at first base would come at some point during the game. And after five innings at his natural position, Zimmerman grabbed his first baseman’s mitt and made the short trot to first for the first time. So, of course, the first ball in play found him.

“It always happens like that,” Zimmerman said afterwards with a smile.

Zimmerman fielded the ball — a broken bat groundball by Don Kelly — and spun toward his right toward second base, a different turn than he is used to. Victor Martinez was at first base, and Zimmerman wanted to start a double play. But in the transfer from the glove to his hand, Zimmerman dropped the ball. That’s expected for a novice at the new position. He found the ball and ran over to first base in time for one out instead. “Just getting used to the bigger glove,” he said. Read full article here.

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