General manager Mike Rizzo’s conference call with reporters on Wednesday was relatively wide-ranging. I’ve already written up the posts on the manager (expected announcement to come shortly after the world series ends), Chien-Ming Wang and a few other Nationals free agents, and Yu Darvish.
Here are a few of the other tidbits and updates from the briefing:
– Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche began throwing last week and is expected — as they said from the day he underwent surgery on his torn labrum in June — to be a full go for spring training in February. LaRoche technically could have begun baseball activities (i.e. throwing) a little bit earlier than he has but because there is no rush, there was no reason to begin them on the exact day he was scheduled to be able to.
“His rehab is going great,” Rizzo said of LaRoche. “He started throwing just last week. He will be on a rehab program and building up for spring training and he should be a full go in spring training, that’s the word I got from Adam and from our medical staff.”
There are going to be some high-priced free agent first basemen on the market this offseason in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder but I wouldn’t expect the Nationals to be first in line for either. They are not only committed to LaRoche for $8 million this season but they also have Michael Morse ready and willing to play first even if LaRoche wasn’t around.
– Anthony Rendon is progressing in the throwing program the Nationals have had him on since shortly after he signed and he too is progressing well toward being fully ready to play in spring training. Rendon has been doing other baseball activities regularly, hitting, running the bases, etc., but has been working on strengthening his injured shoulder to get it back into playing shape after being injured much of the spring and taking all summer off.
Rendon has been working on his throwing with Nationals infield coordinator Jeff Garber, the same guy who helped Ryan Zimmerman revamp his throwing motion this season as he rehabbed from a torn abdominal muscle.
“He’s throwing without a hitch,” Rizzo said. “No setbacks. Hopefully he too will be 100 percent ready to go in spring training as far as his throwing and his shoulder and that type of thing.
“Once he reaches a point where he’s done with his throwing program then it’s just like any other player preparing for major league spring training after that.”
– We already know that Stephen Strasburg is going to be on an innings limit in 2012, similar to the one that Jordan Zimmermann was on in 2011, but while Rizzo has admitted he has certain parameters in mind he has declined to divulge what those parameters will be.
“I don’t think we’ve decided in concrete,” Rizzo said. “I have general parameters of what I think I would allow him to throw. I’m not going to disclose it to anybody because obviously there’s strategy employed in it and we don’t want people to know our business. But we have a good idea of the parameters of where we want Stras to throw and we’ll adhere to those parameters.
“It’s nothing in concrete because we want to see how he comes to spring training, how he feels, how he develops and throughout the season, if there’s any setbacks, and things like that. With that said, if there are not setbacks we have general parameters that we will adhere to.”
As a reference point, Zimmerman was on a 160-inning limit this season and finished the year throwing 161 1/3 innings. He will not be on a limit next season and it’s worth noting that Zimmerman threw 70 2/3 innings in 2010 as he made his way back from Tommy John between both the major and the minor leagues. Strasburg threw only 44 1/3 innings. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding an innings limit, though, so there’s really no hard and fast way to figure it out without the proper equations at hand.
– The Nationals top priority this offseason is to add a center fielder — preferably one of the leadoff-hitting variety — but Rizzo reiterated on Wednesday that the Nationals are comfortable using Jayson Werth in center field if that’s what their roster construction necessitates.
“In a perfect world I’d like to find a leadoff type of on-base percentage guy who can hit at the top of the lineup and play center field and Jayson can play right field,” Rizzo said. “The reason we put him in center was to give us more options. Knowing he can more than handle the center field position, it opens up a bigger pool of players to play a corner position and Jayson can go to the middle.
“I thought he played very well defensively in center field. I think he’s a very good defensive center fielder… In a perfect world, Jayson would be our right fielder.”