On Thursday, the final day before their Grapefruit League schedule begins, the Nationals will hold a lighter day of workouts on the main field of Space Coast Stadium. Players will take batting practice on the stadium field. Infielders will take ground balls during batting practice. Bodies and balls will dot the field. The workout will be similar to the pre-game routine of the regular season.
And that is by design. Manager Matt Williams wanted to give the team a less strenuous day of work so they can rest some before games begin on Friday when the Nationals play the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. The 15th day of camp will be easier, but the previous 14 were regimented and exacting. And in his first camp as manager, Williams has been pleased with the Nationals’ effort and adjustment to his demands.
“They’ve had fun and they’ve worked really hard,” Williams said. “I know they’re all itching to get into games and have a different uniform sitting in the other dugout. That’s a good sign. I think the offensive players are about sick and tired of live batting practice. That’s good. They’ve gotten a chance to see a lot of different guys and get a lot of looks but now it’s time to put it to work. Let’s go.”
Defensive coordinator and advance scout, coach Mark Weidemaier, who helped plan camp’s workout schedules with Williams and humorously shouts across fields at players who aren’t following the program, has also been pleased. “It’s been a great camp,” he said. There has been a lot of hitting and drills, but players have liked the organization and structure of camp.
“It’s spring training,” said Ryan Zimmerman, who has always felt that spring training is too long for position players. “Nobody reinvents the wheel. But everything is on time. It’s crisp and clean. Get in, get out.”
Soon, Williams will be in the dugout for the first time as as a major league manager, although the games won’t count. Williams is excited to see the results of the hard work of the past two weeks. Despite the anxiety of preparing for his first spring as manager, Williams said he has loved camp so far.
“It’s nerve-wracking because I’ve never been on this side of it but it’s rewarding that we’ve gotten here and we’re on the verge of starting games and having it ramp up a little bit and being faster for everybody,” he said. “I look forward to it.”
FROM THE POST
In his second season with the Nationals, Denard Span feels more comfortable with his surroundings and his swing.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
MATT WILLIAMS’S QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Talk with the player next to you and make sure he is as committed to the prize as you are.”
DAYS UNTIL OPENING DAY