VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals’ first full-squad workout of the spring felt little like spring at all with 53 players in camp gathered on the minor league fields bundled in sweatshirts and winter hats. The temperatures in Viera on Sunday morning hovered in the low 40s, but gusting winds made it feel more like high 30s.
“It’s freezing,” said left-hander Gio Gonzalez. “Rain yesterday, snowing today. What’ve we got tomorrow? Hailstorm?”
Johnson kept the workout tight, because of the conditions, wrapping things up in roughly an hour and 45 minutes. He also held a brief team meeting before the workout to remind players that he is the guy who can solve their problems, so to keep in touch and be open with him.
Even for some of the newcomers, it was easy to see the comfort and familiarity the majority of the players have with one another.
“It doesn’t take long to realize that everybody is familiar with each other, comfortable,” said center fielder Denard Span, one of the few new faces. “It’s like a big family. You can definitely tell everybody has a lot of fun. I’m trying to figure out what group I’m in. I’m getting a feel for everybody.”
“It just feels like we just picked up where we left off,” Gonzalez said.
The wind did make for some interesting bullpen sessions, including Gonzalez’s and Drew Storen’s, as the pitchers threw directly into the gusts and their pitches were moving all over the place. it was a tough day to be a catcher.
“The sinkers were really sinking,” said manager Davey Johnson
– Ryan Zimmerman did not throw outside during the workout, due largely to the conditions. Zimmerman is making progress in his throwing program as he works to rebuild strength in his right shoulder after arthroscopic surgery this past October. Zimmerman did participate in the fielding drills during the workout.
– Johnson told Tyler Moore that the team will work him out in left field, right field and first base this spring. Moore, a natural first baseman, would be the primary backup to Adam LaRoche at first base at this point. Johnson said he also told Steve Lombardozzi that he will stay mostly out of the outfield this spring, working primarily at second base.
– Don’t be surprised to see Danny Espinosa get in a few spring games at shortstop. Johnson said he’d have no problem using the second baseman there if something (like an injury) were to happen to shortstop Ian Desmond this season, or even if Desmond just needed a day off. With Lombardozzi’s natural position being second base, if Desmond were the one needing a day, Johnson had no problem shifting Espinosa to short the way he did when Desmond healed from an oblique strain in 2012.
– Johnson spent much of the workout away from the field with the regular players on it, choosing instead to spend time watching the minor leaguers and non-roster invitees. He came away impressed, particularly with some guys he was seeing for the first time like Matt Skole, Micah Owings and Will Rhymes.
– Look for Chris Snyder to be in the mix to perhaps catch Stephen Strasburg’s first spring game. The catcher caught the right-hander’s bullpen session on Sunday morning and Johnson said he’s starting to pair up catchers and pitchers with who’ll be catching them early so they can begin to familiarize themselves with one another.
– The Nationals will begin live batting practice sessions, always some of the more entertaining parts of the early spring workouts, on Tuesday.