Nationals and Orioles Spring Training Preview

Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws a pitch in a Grapefruit League game against the Atlanta Braves.

Photo courtesy of flickr/AndrewBroyles

Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws a pitch in a Grapefruit League game against the Atlanta Braves.

Grant Weaver, Online Assistant Sports Editor

As winter winds down, baseball inside the beltways will heat up down in Florida, where the Nationals and Orioles begin spring training for the month of March.  Fans in Baltimore and D.C are eagerly waiting opening day in April.  The O’s open the season with a three game set in Tampa Bay before coming home for a big weekend series against Toronto.  The Nats open against the Mets for three games before going on a short northeast trip with three games against division rival Phillies and then their first interleague game at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.


For the second year in a row, the Nationals enter the season as the favorites to win the World Series.  Mike Rizzo’s staff made some gutsy moves during the off-season, headlined by the free agent acquisition of Max Scherzer, to whom the Nats signed the biggest contract to a right-handed pitcher in the history of the game.  Additionally, the Nats acquired former Toronto Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen.

Additional moves:

Fan favorite and relief pitcher (RP) Tyler Clippard was traded to Oakland for middle infielder (MIF) Yunel Escobar.

The Nats traded outfielder (OF) Steven Souza Jr. to Tampa Bay in a three-team deal with and received Joe Ross and shortstop (SS) prospect Trea Turner from San Diego. 

Intriguing Stories:

-How will the face of the Nats franchise, Ryan Zimmerman, fare in his transition to the full-time role at first base?  With Adam LaRoche now in Chicago, the Nats will shift Zimmerman across the diamond to first base.  This was a very smart move by the Nats as Zimmerman is getting old and has had throwing problems recently.  Additionally, he is less durable than in his younger days and first base will not require as much moving around.  Secondly, the Nats have star third baseman Anthony Rendon playing third.  Rendon is quicker and is one of the reliable third basemen in the league offensively and defensively.

 Will the starting rotation live up to the hype? This year’s starting rotation has a chance to be one of the most dominant in the history of the game.

-Who will fill the last spot in the starting rotation? There’s a very good chance that the Nats will give this spot to Doug Fister and move Tanner Roark to a durable reliever in the bullpen.

Projected Opening Day Lineup:

P- Stephen Strasburg/Doug Fister

C- Wilson Ramos

3B- Anthony Rendon

SS- Ian Desmond

2B: Yunel Escobar

1B: Ryan Zimmerman

RF: Bryce Harper

CF: Denard Span

LF: Jayson Werth



The Orioles should enter this season as contenders in the AL East.  They did not have as many acquisitions as their Beltway counterpart, and they also lost some important players.  They lost Nelson Cruz to the Mariners and Nick Markakis signed with the Braves.

Additional Moves:

 – The O’s traded for outfielder (OF) Travis Snider from Pittsburgh and sent some prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Intriguing Stories:

– Will Gold Glove catcher Matt Wieters return to full strength for opening day after missing  the majority of the 2014 season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery?

-Will all-star third baseman Manny Machado come back to form as one of the best in the league?

Projected opening day lineup:

C- Matt Wieters

3B- Manny Machado

SS- J.J Hardy

2B- Jonathan Schoop

1B- Christian Walker/Chris Davis

RF- Travis Snider

CF- Adam Jones

LF- Alejandro De Aza

DH- Chris Davis/Steve Pearce

P- Chris Tillman