Nationals News: Nats look to increase use of shift; pressure is on for Dan Uggla


Good morning DoD readers, and welcome to today’s District Daily! The Nationals had their workout cut short yesterday due to rain, but there’s still plenty of news to talk about coming out of the team’s camp in Viera, Fla.

In today’s Daily,’s Jamal Collier discusses the Nationals’ plan to increase their use of defensive shifts this season. As Collier notes, the team rarely implemented any significant defensive shifts last season and manager Matt Williams would like to see that change in 2015.

Going into the season with a new approach about defensive shifts could help the team save some hits from leaving the infield, but it certainly won’t be easy. Most of these players have been playing the same position the same way their entire lives, and transitioning to a Joe Maddon-esque shift system would take some getting used to.

Of course, if the Nationals can add complex shifts to their defensive arsenal and execute them well, it could certainly help the team save some runs and possibly win more games – especially when ground ball-inducing pitchers such as Doug Fister are on the mound.

Also in today’s Daily, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes discusses Dan Uggla and the pressure he faces to succeed in 2015. Once considered the best-hitting second baseman in all of baseball, Uggla’s career has been in rapid decline in recent years, and the deal he signed with the Nationals earlier this winter may very well be the last chance he has to salvage his career.

The Uggla signing is a perfect example of a no-risk, high-reward deal for the Nationals. If Uggla revives his career and performs at least close to how he did a few years ago with the Braves, the deal would be one of the biggest baseball bargains in recent memory. If Uggla proves that his career is in fact over, the team can simply cut ties with him.

For Uggla, however, things aren’t that simple. If he doesn’t make the big league club out of Spring Training, he may very well be done in Major League Baseball. But if he can prove his worth to the Nationals this spring, he not only has a chance to make the big league roster, but he may very well end up taking over at second base if Yunel Escobar falters at some point this season.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on Uggla and all the other storylines coming out of Viera, so be sure to stay tuned to DoD for all your Nationals Spring Training needs. For now, start off your day with these great Nationals articles from around the web:

Nationals look to increase use of defensive shifts

(Jamal Collier,

VIERA, Fla. — Matt Williams estimated that the Nationals ranked near the bottom of the National League last season in the number of times they shifted defensive alignments, and he said Saturday he expected that number to increase in 2015.

How much that number increases is unclear. The Nationals are unlikely to start shifting drastically, largely because of the team’s dynamic starting pitching that will continue to guide many of Williams’ decisions. Read full article here.

Career in the balance: Dan Uggla, cut by Braves, hopes to stick with Nats

(Chelsea Janes, Washington Post)

From 2006 to 2012, Dan Uggla hit 209 home runs, 46 more than any other major league middle infielder. He was the best of a rare baseball breed, a commodity any team would covet: a power-hitting second baseman with more home runs in that span than all but 10 players in the major leagues.

Few would have predicted that such a player, orthopedically healthy and untouched by scandal, would find himself anywhere but on a major league field by August 2014. No one would have predicted he would find himself blindfolded and bouncing on a trampoline in a doctor’s office in Las Vegas. Read full article here.

Next: Fed City Flashback: 2009 – Jim Bowden Resigns As GM Of Nats

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