The Washington Times - December 7, 2012, 05:04PM

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo discussed the team’s one-year deal with right-hander Dan Haren Friday night. Here’s some of what he had to say:

On his impressions of Haren: “He’s one of the most accomplished pitchers of the last couple years. He’s a workhorse. He’s a guy who has been on the disabled list one time in his major league career. He’s a three-time All-Star, his credentials are impeccable and we feel really good that he’s with the Washington Nationals. He had a lot of different options and a lot of different opportunities to go to a lot of different ballclubs. And once we expressed interest in him, he certainly focused in on us and was pleased we wanted to sign him and ultimately was the team he chose.”

On his health: “The injury part, he passed the physical the last couple of days. We were waiting on blood work today to get finalized, so that’s why it took us a couple of days to get it done. But saw him in here, flew back early to see him at his physical, give him a little tour of the ballpark and the facilities and met a couple of other players that were working out in the clubhouse. We’re extremely pleased with where he was at and we’re looking forward to him pitching with us and being terrific for us.”

On if Haren was his priority on the free agent pitching market: “He was a guy we identified early on in the offseason as our primary target. We felt all along Zack Greinke was the top free agent in the class, but we felt that Dan Haren fit us the best this season because of the length of the contract, the talent, the ability and the type of pitcher that he was. So he was our primary target going into it and we acted quickly and aggressively, showed our interest right away and ultimately after meeting with his agents in Nashville we got the deal finalized, pending the physical obviously.”

On if they didn’t get far down the road with anyone else because they pursued Haren so much: “That’s accurate. He was our primary target and we were correct about him and went after him quite aggressively. And he chose us, so we kind of took everything else off the back burner.”

On why they were not concerned about his hip when it seemed other teams were: “He’s pitched with the condition, I think, since college and throughout his professional and major-league career. The back issue was something that was of concern to us. Once we took a look at the MRIs and the films and our doctor actually put his hands on him, saw the condition of his back and his hip and his total physical condition, he signed off on him and said they were just risks that were within the guideline of acceptable.”

On what makes him a fit for the staff: “He’s a workhorse. He’s a talented workhorse, a guy who pitches quality innings, and a lot of them. I think he’s averaged well over 200 innings in his major-league career with I think just the last season of the last [seven] seasons is the only one he hasn’t pitched over 200 innings. So he knows how to pitch long into a season. He’s a workhorse. He’s got quality stuff. His numbers, sabermetrically, are off the charts. And our scouts really love the command of his pitches, his repertoire and his competitiveness. He’s one of the most competitive guys in the major leagues. He takes the ball at all times and he’s a guy that you really want in your foxhole when times get tough during your season, which they always do.”

On if having Haren in the fold changes their search for more starting depth: 
“I wouldn’t describe them as fears or needs. We feel really good about our five starters in the rotation. We feel we have options below that. What I’ve always said is, we’re never satisfied with what we have. If we can do better, we’ll certainly attempt to do better. And I’m always after depth. But we feel very comfortable and confident with the five current rotation guys that we’ve got and the current guys we feel could be that sixth, seventh and eighth major-league starters if need be. But with that said, we’re always on the lookout to improving our ballclub.”

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