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NATIONALS WATCH

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals for The Washington Times.

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Strasburg wants to be "just another donkey."

The first year, Stephen Strasburg was the phenom, the guy with the golden arm, and the biggest question was whether or not the Nationals would allow their prized pitcher to skip the minor leagues altogether. The second year, he was the guy who could look but not touch. The road back from Tommy John ligament reconstruction surgery was only part-way paved and Strasburg was mostly spectator while the rest of his teammates prepared for a season in which he'd have little impact. This year, finally, for Strasburg, it's about baseball, and now he can be "just another donkey," as San Diego State University pitching coach Eric Valenzuela calls him to this day.

Mike Cameron to retire after 17 seasons

Mike Cameron spent parts of the last 17 years playing major league baseball. He was set to begin his 18th with the Washington Nationals but the 39-year-old outfielder decided instead to call it a career. (UPDATED: Cameron offers comment via twitter.)

Playing a backup role not exactly how Flores envisioned it

There is a career -- a life, really -- that Jesus Flores envisioned for himself. Ten years ago, when the New York Mets signed him as an international free agent and integrated him into their farm system, he believed he would be a starting catcher in the major leagues some day.

A few more farm system leftovers

Many thanks to all who read and sent comments about the farm system piece. As promised here are a few more leftovers from the stuff that was forced to the cutting room floor:

SDSU set to retire Strasburg's number

San Diego State University announced Thursday that they will retire the jersey number of former Aztec and current Washington National Stephen Strasburg in a ceremony prior to the team's season opener on Feb. 17 vs. Washington.

Pennsylvania senator sends Lerner letter in protest of 'Take back the park' ticket initiative

When the Washington Nationals announced a new ticket initiative for the first home series of the 2012 season against the Philadelphia Phillies, aimed at stopping the onslaught of Philadelphia fans who overtake Nationals Park each summer, they were met with mixed reviews. Either way, one thing is for sure: the ticket initiative certainly got under the skin of the Philadelphia fans who've made it an annual pilgrimage to Washington to root on their team. Things reached what one can only assume is an apex on Thursday with U.S. Senator Robert Casey sending a personal letter to Nationals owner Ted Lerner in protest of the presale. The letter was also apparently copied to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig as well as Nationals COO Andy Feffer.

Leftovers from an in-depth look at the ascension of the Nationals farm system

A few weeks ago, word surfaced from Baseball America that the Nationals -- owners of the worst farm system in all of baseball just five springs ago -- were the No.1 ranked system in all of baseball in this year's prospect handbook. Their stay atop the rankings will be short-lived as the pages were sent to press just before the Nationals swapped four of their best prospects, ones who helped them ascend to the top spot, to Oakland in the trade that brought Gio Gonzalez to Washington. But the honor remains and, as Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo will be the first to tell you, without the type of farm system that Baseball America felt was the best in the league, the Nationals likely don't get Gio Gonzalez -- don't get the top of the rotation, power left-hander they'd been seeking for quite some time.

Nationals sign Mark Teahen to minor league deal

The Washington Nationals announced the minor league signing of Mark Teahen on Monday afternoon, adding the 30-year-old corner infielder and outfielder to the mix for a bench role. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.