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Acta tells players to forget the past

- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

VIERA, Fla. — Manager Manny Acta had a different message when he addressed the full Nationals squad before their first team workout this spring: Last year is over. Everybody got paid.

"This year is basically going to be based on not being satisfied with what we did last year," Acta said before his scheduled meeting with the team. "Last year is over, and everybody got paid for it. We did get better at what we wanted them to get better, but we're still not there."

He wants to continue working on making the Nationals fundamentally sound and reducing errors.

The Nationals went from 131 errors in 2006 to 109 in Acta's first season as manager.

"I really want to get this team down to the 80s in the amount of errors," he said. "That's a lot of outs that we still gave away. We didn't finish last in defense like the year before, but we want to keep pushing and continue to get better.

Last year, Acta walked into the clubhouse and told the team a list of things they did wrong the last season.

He was positive yesterday.

"Obviously if I mentioned the negative stuff last year, I ought to tell them what they did right last year to get us to this point, to continue to convince them that we're doing the right thing here," he said. "And then, hey, you know what? I play to win."

Future stars

The Nationals accelerated spring training for their prospects began yesterday at the training complex, with pitchers and catchers reporting.

The accelerated camp, which started last year, takes the best of the Nationals young prospects and gives them three weeks of additional preparation time, ahead of when the full minor league training camp opens.

The pitchers in the accelerated camp include Jhonny Nunez, Jordan Zimmermann, Colton Willems and Zechry Zinicola.

Position players who will report include outfielder Michael Burgess, second baseman Stephen King, first baseman Chris Marrero and shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez.

Visa update

Relief pitcher Jesus Colome was in camp yesterday, which leaves catcher Jesus Flores as the last member of essential personnel held up by visa problems.

The team expects Flores to attend camp today.