- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015

VIERA, FLA. — Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos first saw the rumors on Twitter. He watched as reports rolled in about Washington being on the verge of acquiring right-hander Max Scherzer, a Cy Young winner who is among the most dominant pitchers in the sport.

Ramos was surprised by the news at first, but that feeling quickly dissolved into pure excitement.

“We’ve got a really good rotation,” Ramos said. “With this guy, it feels really good to have the best rotation in baseball.”

Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million contract with the Nationals a little less than a month ago. He hadn’t arrived at Space Coast Stadium as of early Thursday afternoon, but the team said he was expected to report on time. He is expected to address reporters in the next couple days.

Despite his absence, Scherzer was still a main topic of conversation as pitchers and catchers reported to the team facility. The excitement among his teammates was universal.

“He’s an incredible guy,” said Doug Fister, who was Scherzer’s teammate in Detroit. “It’s a huge honor for me to be a teammate of his again. To be able to sit back and watch him and continue to learn from him. He’s got a wealth of knowledge, and the ability to execute and go out there and play ball. He’s a guy who battles for you. That’s what you want as a teammate.”

SEE ALSO: Sky’s the limit: Expectations are high as Nationals arrive at spring training

Fister shared Ramos‘ surprise when news of the move broke. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez called it “unbelievable.”

“It was almost jaw-dropping,” Gonzalez said. “Expect the unexpected, but in baseball you never know what’s going to happen. And that was just a perfect sign of it. Seeing him come over here, and especially with the rotation we’ve got, it’s just a bigger smile on all of our faces.”

Ramos said he’s looking forward to working with Scherzer. He’ll use spring training as a learning period to grow accustomed to Scherzer’s delivery and arsenal of pitches.

To that end, Ramos said he would let Scherzer call his own games in the spring to ensure they’re on the same page.

“Spring training is for knowing those guys,” Ramos said. “So this spring, I will work on knowing how he likes to pitch, to try to be on the same page for the season. I will try to do that in spring training, try to learn how he likes to throw, try to put those things on the field during the season.”

Scherzer doesn’t know many of his new teammates after spending the previous five years in the American League. But Fister, one of the Nationals who knows him best, described him as an ideal addition to the clubhouse. He said Scherzer can be a vocal leader in some situations, and a jokester in others.

“He’s a guy who kind of has the ability to kind of glue people together,” Fister said. “And that’s something that as a camaraderie factor as a team chemistry factor I think is going to be a good addition to what we have here.”

Gonzalez was asked if he had heard anything about Scherzer from his old teammates in Oakland, who faced him more regularly.

“You don’t have to talk to an old teammate about that,” Gonzalez quipped. “You can talk to almost half of baseball about the way he pitches and the way he pounds the strike zone and the way he attacks hitters. I mean, it’s devastating [when] he goes up there. It’s almost like watching a Nintendo game. He’s going out there and picking and choosing what he wants to put down and making the plays happen.”

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