Nationals News: Jayson Werth’s arrival pivotal to changing Nats’ direction

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Good morning DoD readers, and welcome to today’s District Daily! The Nationals took a beating yesterday in their first split-squad day of the spring, but theres still plenty of good news to talk about coming out of the Nats’ camp.

In today’s Daily, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson discusses the ever-important presence of Jayson Werth in the Nationals organization. In the article, Ladson looks back on Werth’s arrival to the Nationals five years ago and how his once-criticized seven-year, $126 million contract has played a major role in transforming the Nationals from the worst team in baseball to a World Series contender.

Nationals fans have seen first hand over the last several years how crucial Werth has been to the team’s transformation. Not only has the outfielder helped unite the team and draw fans to the ball club, but his production on the field (when healthy) has helped lead the Nationals’ offense to two NL East titles in the last three years.

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Granted, there are many reasons for why the Nationals have risen to the top of the baseball food chain––having two straight No. 1 draft picks certainly didn’t hurt––but there’s no doubt that Werth has been a key part of the transformation. There’s also no doubt that his success in 2015 will go a long way in determining whether the Nationals can defend their NL East title. First thing’s first, though, Werth needs to complete rehab on his operated shoulder and get back in the Nationals’ lineup.

Also in today’s Daily, MLB.com’s Jamal Collier checks in on Gio Gonzalez and his preparations for the 2015 season. As Collier notes, Gonzalez feels healthy and confident after two starts this spring––a great sign for a Nationals ball club that has already been hit hard by the injury bug early this spring.

For all the talk about the Nationals’ other-worldly rotation, a lot of people tend to leave out Gonzalez and focus only on the team’s “Core Four” starting pitchers. But the truth is that as good as those four are, the Nationals will need a solid season from Gonzalez as well if they want to achieve their lofty goals this season. Given how he’s been early on this spring, however, things are looking good for the Nationals’ No. 5 starter.

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

Werth’s arrival pivotal to changing Nationals’ direction

(Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

VIERA, Fla. — Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth is working hard to get ready for the 2015 season. The question is, though, will he be ready for Opening Day against the Mets on April 6 at Nationals Park? Werth is cautiously optimistic.

Werth had arthroscopic surgery on his right AC joint last January, and he has yet to play in an exhibition game because of the procedure. But as of Friday morning, Werth was in right field playing catch with first-base coach Tony Tarasco. Werth threw from 60 to 90 feet and threw the ball pretty well.

“Surprising,” Werth said Saturday morning. “Not that I didn’t think it was possible. It’s just that [the strength] has come pretty quick. It’s like the third time I’ve thrown and it feels really good. During normal Spring Trainings, I don’t throw a whole lot before I get here. … The shoulder is really strong and I’m in a good place.” Read full article here.

Healthy Gio in high spirits, having fun with Nationals

(Jamal Collier, MLB.com)

VIERA, Fla. — Just two starts into his Grapefruit League season in 2015, and Gio Gonzalez feels like it’s 2012 again.

He is not battling any issues with his arm or shoulder. And most of all because he is having fun, he was challenged to work in the phrase “right meow” 10 times during a recent television interview, which he completed successfully.

“I think that our rotation does that now,” Gonzalez said. “We’re just happy, we’re smiling, we’re picking each other up, and I think that’s how I feel now. Read full article here.

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