WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — One of the few spots up for grabs on the Washington Nationals roster this spring is the final vacancy in one of baseball’s top rotations. While the Nationals can still go out and sign a free agent to fill the void, a fifth starter is needed because Joe Ross had Tommy John surgery in July.

The 24-year-old resumed throwing during the first week of January. He has stretched out to 75 feet. At this stage, he’s eyeing an August return.

“That’ll be a year out from when I had surgery,” Ross said Saturday. “I guess my arm will dictate that a little more, but that’s my personal goal right now.”

Ross made 13 starts before the procedure last season, pitching to a 5.01 ERA across 73 2/3 innings.

In the meantime, Manager Dave Martinez said Friday the competition is ongoing, but A.J. Cole, who doesn’t have any minor league options remaining, has “the upper hand.” Cole will compete with Edwin Jackson, Erick Fedde and Tommy Milone.

Here are a few other notes from the first few days of camp:

— Martinez confirmed Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Madson will set up Sean Doolittle, in that order, but he added the roles could fluctuate depending on the situation.

“In a perfect world, that would be great,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately we live in an imperfect world. Those guys will know their roles, and it’ll be through conversation. Certain situations we’re better with Madson maybe throwing the seventh and Kintzler throwing the ninth, but it’ll be through conversations. Every series will be different. Every team we play will be different. But I’ll definitely talk to those guys before we go to a series so they’ll know what their job is.”

— As for managing the rotation, Martinez said he doesn’t plan on following the growing trend of taking starters out before they go through the order a third time.

“Sometimes these guys are really good third time around the order,” Martinez said. “They get stronger, so we’ll just play it by ear and see how they do. I know for a fact that, to get the ball from [Max] Scherzer, it’s going to be tough.”

— The Nationals essentially replaced Adam Lind with Matt Adams when they signed him to a one-year deal worth at least $4 million over the winter. Like Lind, Adams is a left-handed first baseman with pop. And, like Lind, Adams has limited experience in left field. Last season, injuries forced the Nationals to play Lind in left field more than anticipated, but Martinez said the plan is to have Adams log some time out there.

After never appearing in the outfield as a professional, Adams started 18 games and logged 129 1/3 innings there with the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves in 2017. He has started 387 big league games at first base. Adams batted .274 with 20 home runs and an .841 OPS in 131 games last season.

–Position players don’t have to report until Monday, but most have at least been seen at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, including Bryce Harper. The list of players who haven’t appeared includes Wilmer Difo, Andrew Stevenson, Howie Kendrick, Victor Robles, and Rafael Bautista.

— Ryan Zimmerman was given the departed Jayson Werth’s corner locker. Werth’s No. 28 has not been given away. Kendrick will wear Dusty Baker’s No. 12.

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