Nationals News: Taylor displays power stroke, Williams expects more from bench

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Good morning DoD readers, and welcome to today’s District Daily! In the spirit of “all good things must come to an end,” the Nationals were dealt their first Spring Training loss yesterday afternoon at the hands of the Yankees. Fortunately, these games are absolutely, positively, 100 percent meaningless.

As we’ve said several times over the last few days, the final score of these games means absolutely nothing. The important part of these game is games is hitters getting back into the swing of things against live pitching and pitchers finding the zone against live hitters as players prepare for Opening Day. The other good thing about these games is that they give young players a chance to shine, as we saw yesterday afternoon with the Nationals’ No. 3 prospect, Michael Taylor.

In today’s Daily, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson discusses Taylor, who had missed the first three games of the spring because of a “twinge in his neck.” As Ladson notes, Taylor felt better yesterday and made his 2015 Grapefruit League debut against the Yankees. Not surprisingly, the young outfielder didn’t disappoint.

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Taylor took the first pitch he saw from Yankees starter Adam Warren and deposited over the left-center field wall for a leadoff homer. Taylor later hit a sharp single up the middle, finishing the day 2 for 3. While it’s still early in the spring, it’s good to see Taylor showing off his offensive potential. The stakes are high for the young outfielder this spring as he’ll likely be competing for a spot on the Nationals’ Opening Day bench. While making the roster won’t be easy, his performance yesterday was certainly a step in the right direction.

Also in today’s Daily, Ladson discusses Matt Williams’ expectations for the bench this season. As Ladson notes, the bench was absolutely dreadful in 2014 and Williams expects it to perform much better in 2015 than it did last season.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. For the Nationals to have success off the bench, they’ll need several key bench players such as Nate McLouth to stay healthy all year long. If the bench does come up big for the Nationals, however, it could go a long way in helping the team play deep into October.

Be sure to checkout the articles below, they’re definitely worth a read. And as always, stay tuned to DoD for all your Nationals Spring Training needs.

With neck better, prospect Taylor displays power stroke

(Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

TAMPA, Fla. — Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor started his first game of the spring Sunday afternoon and went 2-for-3 with a home run in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Taylor didn’t start the first three games of the Grapefruit League season because of a twinge in his neck. He doesn’t know how it happened; he just woke up one day with pain in his neck. Before the game, Taylor was able to participate in batting practice, proving to manager Matt Williams that he was OK to play.

Taylor didn’t waste any time once he entered the batter’s box against the Yankees. He led off the game and hit the first pitch from right-hander Adam Warren over the left-center-field wall. Taylor had the green light to swing at the first pitch. Read full article here.

Williams expects more from bench in 2015

(Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

TAMPA, Fla. — Entering this season, the Nationals’ biggest concern is their bench. In 2013 and ’14, Nationals pinch-hitters weren’t productive, hitting .208 and .144 respectively.

Manager Matt Williams is hoping the production will improve this year. He would like to see more power from the left side.

“It’s important to have the ability from both sides [of the plate] in multiple aspects of it — have a little bit of power from both sides, have a little bit of speed from both sides and guys that can grind it out and get on base if we need that, too,” Williams said. Read full article here.

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