Mar 27, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa (8) throws to first against the New York Mets in spring training action at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: Washington Nationals News 3/28

Start off your day with some great reads from our fellow Washington Nationals writers:

Nats shore up soft spots in effort to reach goals

(Bill Ladson,

VIERA, Fla. — Before the 2013 season started, then-manager Davey Johnson made a bold prediction about the Nationals: “World Series or bust.” The Nats did not make the World Series — or the playoffs — finishing second behind the Braves in the National League East.

This year, new manager Matt Williams declined to follow in Johnson’s footsteps as far as making a bold prediction. The only thing he would say was that the Nationals would play hard and leave it on the field every night.

“Predictions are hard,” Williams said. “Wins and losses are out of your control, but if I could predict, I would say we will approach the game correctly. We will make some mistakes, but they will be aggressive mistakes. We will challenge the other team and put pressure on them. If we could do that, we have a chance. You can never predict a record or any of that, because you don’t know, but if we approach it correctly, we have a chance.” Read full article here.

Stammen teams with Motte for cancer initiative

(Andrew Simon,

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — On Thursday morning in the visitors’ clubhouse at Tradition Field, Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen pulled on a red T-shirt with a giant white backward “K” across the chest and the word “cancer” strung across below it.

A big box of the shirts had arrived at the Nats’ spring stadium in Viera, Fla., the previous day, reflecting Stammen’s partnership with the “Strike Out Cancer” initiative started recently by Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. Stammen will pass out his shirts to teammates, and they also are available online.

“I’m honored that [Motte] asked me to be a part of it,” Stammen said. “Anything I can do to help anybody is a good thing, and cancer’s a big thing in the United States and it affects a lot of people — affects pretty much everybody in some form. So I’m glad to help out, do the best I can to work for a cure.” Read full article here.

Matt, Math, and Mysticism for 2014 Washington Nationals

(Frederic J. Frommer, Washingtonian)

Nats fans, history is on your side. In a sport in which numbers mean everything and “nine” has a special resonance, it’s been nine decades since Washington’s professional baseball team won the World Series. And it’s been 81 (nine times nine!) since DC took a league pennant, in 1933.

Or consider, in a sport so fickle that chance is the only thing you can count on, the coincidences: By 1924, only two American League teams had yet to win a pennant—the St. Louis Browns and the Washington Senators, also known at the time as the Nationals.  Read full article here.

Washington Nationals will utilize many more defensive shifts this season

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

VIERA, Fla. — Before a recent spring training game, Manager Matt Williams led the entireWashington Nationals infield, reserves and all, through every type of defensive alignment imaginable. After every groundball, Williams grabbed the day’s schedule from his back pocket and shouted out the next game situation.

“Ryan Howard is at the plate with one man on!” Williams said.

“Full shift!” bellowed defensive coordinator and advance coach Mark Weidemaier, the man hitting the groundballs.

Second baseman Anthony Rendon jogged to his left and stood in shallow right field, shortstop Ian Desmond moved toward second base and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman stood alone between third and second base. This is not a standard defensive alignment, but the left-handed hitting Phillies first baseman, statistics show, often hits grounders to the right. Read full article here.

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