Five Washington Nationals Storylines To Watch In 2016 Spring Training
By Ricky Keeler
During the first dew days of spring training, this is going to be one of the main topics of conversation. One of the resounding images from last year was the scuffle in the dugout between Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper. With Papelbon remaining the closer now that Drew Storen is in Toronto, Papelbon will have to answer more questions in Viera.
After Matt Williams did not handle the situation well and even said he didn’t know the seriousness of the situation because he was at the other end of the dugout, the Nats hired the right man to diffuse the situation in Baker. Even if the two of them aren’t best friends, he should be able to have them put their differences aside for the good of the team.
Plus, if Harper wanted Papelbon gone to begin with, I would think he would be off the team in an instant. The fact of the matter is the Nationals need Papelbon to be what he was in Philadelphia during the first half of the season (1.59 ERA, 17 saves).
As for Harper, last spring we saw him take more pitches at the plate and become more selective, which led to him breaking the franchise record for the most walks in a single season (124). The Nats didn’t add the big bat they wanted (Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes), but they gave the reigning NL MVP more protection in the lineup by adding Murphy and now having a healthy Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon.
The questions are going to be asked, but the Nationals need both Papelbon and Harper to have strong seasons. Hopefully, its only a one day thing an the team can move on and get focused on getting back to the postseason this year. We want to hear from you. What are the storylines you are looking to watch this spring?