Washington Nationals News: Dan Uggla vying for a spot on roster


Good morning DoD readers, and welcome to today’s District Daily! Yesterday was a big news day for the Washington Nationals. Not only did the team finally name Max Scherzer as the Opening Day starter, but the Nationals also cut several players and beat the Yankees in Grapefruit League play. With another busy day of Spring Training in the books, there’s plenty to talk about in today’s Daily.

The Washington Post‘s James Wagner leads things off for today’s Daily with an interesting article on Dan Uggla and his prospects of making the Opening Day roster. As Wagner notes, Uggla is hitting well this spring and despite the seemingly long odds he faced when he signed a minor league deal earlier this winter, it looks like the former all-star second baseman may have a chance at cracking the big league club.

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Uggla has undoubtedly been one of the biggest surprises for the Nationals this spring, and for all the right reasons. While things haven’t looked great for the team’s other second basemen – Danny Espinosa has struggled mightily with the bat this spring and Yunel Escobar has been limited to one spring game due to an oblique injury – Uggla has been working diligently and somewhat under the radar to solidify his standing as an Opening Day bench candidate.

While there’s still no guarantee that Uggla will make the Opening Day roster, his performance in Spring Training thus far has certainly helped his chances of getting another chance to produce at the big league level. And if Uggla’s success this spring is no fluke and the infielder returns or at least comes close to his production from a few years ago, the once-criticized Uggla signing might end up being one of the best baseball moves the team has made in recent years.

Also in today’s Daily, Wagner discusses Jerry Blevins‘ fascinating and unlikely path from a college baseball tryout to becoming a dominant major league reliever. The Nationals’ bullpen is filled with a wealth of interesting personalities, and Blevins is no different.

As Wagner notes, the lanky left-hander is not only a baseball player and a student of the game, but he’s also a student of life in general and never misses an opportunity to learn or try something new. We already know Blevins for his work on the mound in his first season with the Nationals in 2014 and, better yet, for his dominance in the playoffs last season. But clearly, there’s much more to Blevins than meets the eye. Be sure to check out Wagner’s article below, it’s definitely worth a read.

And as always, stay tuned to DoD for all your Washington Nationals Spring Training needs.

Dan Uggla hitting well, vying for a spot on Nationals roster

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

VIERA, Fla. — Just over two weeks into the spring training game schedule, one of the most encouraging stories in Nationals camp is a player that little was expected from and had a lot to prove: Dan Uggla. Last season was another rough one in his career slide. He worked with a doctor to help fix his eyesight and balance, both affected by blows to the head over the years. Uggla, 35, said he felt better at the start of spring training but a big question lingered: will it actually make a difference?

So far, Uggla has both said and shown that it has been a big one.

“I’m really pleased with the way I’ve been seeing the ball,” he said. “Timing in the first 10 to 15 at-bats was coming together all in itself, just like it is every spring training. The difference this year and during those at-bats where you’re working on your timing and trying get that back, I’m seeing the ball really well. Just pleased with how it’s gone so far in seeing the ball and making some contact and that sort of thing. At the same time, it’s early and I want to keep going this direction.” Read full article here.

Nationals’ Jerry Blevins as much a renaissance man as he is a baseball player

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

LAKELAND, Fla. — Long before he was in the Washington Nationals’ bullpen, Jerry Blevins was a regular student at the University of Dayton.

He was there on an academic scholarship, not an athletic one, because he was recruited out of Arcadia High in northwest Ohio to play baseball only by a local Division III school. He starred as a starting pitcher at his small high school but didn’t take part in the showcases or tournaments that would have gained him exposure.

But in the fall of his freshman year at Dayton, he and a close friend saw a flier for baseball tryouts. Both went, but only Blevins made the team. More than a dozen years later, the 31-year-old is entering his second season with the Nationals, having made a career as a crafty left-handed reliever. The story of how he got here highlights an underlying truth about Blevins: He is as much a renaissance man as he is a baseball player. Read full article here.

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