As Spring Training starts, the Washington Nationals start 2017 with questions needing answers. What are they? Can they be answered?
The sounds of baseballs popping into gloves fill the air as the Washington Nationals settle into their new Spring Training home in West Palm Beach, Florida. Over the next six weeks, the Nats will get into game shape, run too many wind sprints and prepare to defend their 2016 National League East championship.
With expectation from fans and the baseball world high for Washington, what happens between now and when the season begins for real on April 3 against the Miami Marlins sets the table for the six months to follow. If there is to be a champagne party next November, the fundamentals start here.
In reality, staying healthy and learning how to get timing back at the plate are the key goals. It is important to practice how fielders cover bases and for pitchers to loosen up against live hitters. Those extra sessions remembering where to place sacrifice bunts may seem foolish now, but when they win a key game in August, that is another story.
As with any team this time of year, there are questions the Nationals want answers to before playing for real. If they answer them before meeting the Boston Red Sox at home at the end of March, then the Nats will have accomplished a great deal.
Chances are, all the concerns you the fans have starting 2017 will not be settled but, remember, the Washington Nationals are still the favorite to win the division.
With that dose of optimism, here are the five burning questions facing the team starting Spring Training.