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The Morning Briefing: The Nationals’ clubhouse follows a single direction: The one Howie Kendrick points it in and How A Pair Of Decisions Sent Two Nationals Prospects On Divergent Paths Toward The Majors

There are only 23 days until MLB Opening Day 2020 and 31 days to the Washington Nationals Home Opener at Nationals Park! There are 136 more days until the 2020 MLB All-Star Game in LA.

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Good Morning, Washington Nationals Fans,

Some of the news that we are covering today includes:

  • Nats’ mantra:  ‘Just focus on the now’
  • How a pair of decisions sent two Nationals prospects on divergent paths toward the majors
  • Need a team to root for to beat the hated Astros? Try the Angels
  • A beer nerd’s guide to baseball: Ranking every stadium by craft beer offerings 
  • 50 HRs AND a Gold Glove? This guy could do it

Here are today’s latest Washington Nationals & MLB Headlines and what else you need to know to start your day.

Washington Nationals Headlines

Nats’ Mantra: ‘Just Focus On The Now’

The Nationals expect few — if any — easy days when they take the field to defend their World Series title this season.

Even though it was only a Grapefruit League contest to open March, Washington got a friendly reminder of that sentiment during Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Mets at Clover Park.

Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom pitched three scoreless innings by commanding the zone (36 pitches, 27 strikes) and showing off his velocity (97 mph on his first pitch) in his spring debut.

Read the full article via MLB/Nationals

The Nationals’ Clubhouse Follows A Single Direction: The One Howie Kendrick Points It In

For just a few minutes, as we try to project how the Washington Nationals assembled here in the cool of March will perform over the swelter of a summer, put down your calculators and log off your stat sites. Howie Kendrick is walking into the clubhouse. And that mere act and fact — Howie Kendrick being present — means something for the Nationals.

Unless I’m reaching.

“You’re not reaching,” Max Scherzer said. “It’s a real thing.”

“Weren’t you here last year?” Adam Eaton asked. “It’s the whole reason we won.”

Read the full article via the Washington Post

Hearing From Doolittle, Sánchez, Zimmerman, Martinez After 3-1 Loss

Sean Doolittle’s primary goal in his first game action of spring training was to focus on his secondary pitches.

For a guy who usually makes hay with an array of rising fastballs, challenging hitters to square up a pitch they know is coming at them, that can be a tall order – especially when he hasn’t faced hitters in a game yet this spring.

Read the full article via MASN Sports

Washington Nationals Lose, 3-1, To New York Mets: Early Runs Off Aníbal Sánchez Enough For NY

Things didn’t go too well for Aníbal Sánchez in his first inning of work this afternoon in the New York Mets’ Spring home, Digital Doma— uh, Tradition Fiel — er, uh, First Data Fiel— ah, Clover Park(?) as it’s now called.

Sánchez, who turned 36 this week, gave up a leadoff single on a first-pitch fastball to Jeff McNeil that the 27-year-old infielder (who put up a .421/.436/.935 line, 13 doubles, and 14 home runs on first pitches, with a .317 AVG on fastballs and .370 AVG on sinkers overall last season) would probably never see in a regular season game.

Brandon Nimmo walked in the second at bat of the home-half of the first inning in Port St. Lucie, FL, and Robinson Cano drove both runners in with a double to put the Mets up, 2-0 early in Grapefruit League action.

Read the full article via Federal Baseball

How A Pair Of Decisions Sent Two Nationals Prospects On Divergent Paths Toward The Majors

The two pitchers weren’t household names. They weren’t major leaguers. They weren’t even early-round draft picks when the Washington Nationals selected them in 2016.

Yet for a few days at the beginning of the offseason, in the afterglow of the franchise’s first World Series, a subsection of the team’s fan base focused on two names: Ben Braymer and Sterling Sharp.

Read the full article via the Washington Post

Mets Takeaways From Sunday’s 3-1 Win Over Nationals, Including Jacob DeGrom’s Stellar First Outing

The Mets took down the defending champion Nationals, 3-1, in a split-squad spring training matchup in Port St. Lucie on Sunday.

Read the full article via SNY TV (New York)

Around The Horn: News From Around The League

Maddon: ‘Hard To Imagine’ Griffin Canning Not Starting Season On IL

The Griffin Canning health situation has drawn quite a bit of attention in Angels’ camp recently. Manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times) this afternoon “it would be hard to imagine” a situation in which Canning doesn’t begin the season on the injured list. Canning was unable to participate in his scheduled throwing session yesterday due to persistent trouble in his elbow, Maddon adds (via Shaikin). He’ll instead undergo testing next Wednesday or Thursday to determine if the issue is related to his joint or to a ligament, tweets Fabian Ardaya of the Athletic.

Read the full article via MLB Trade Rumors

Who’s Better, Jacob DeGrom Or Gerrit Cole? 32 MLB Experts Weigh In

It is, as one executive from a National League team noted, “like asking someone to choose between Ali and Tyson in their primes.”

That didn’t stop The Post from asking, though. With New York now the workplace for both Jacob deGrom, the two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, and Gerrit Cole, who placed a close second (to Astros teammate Justin Verlander) in last year’s American League Cy Young voting, we surveyed 32 baseball operations people — a mix of front-office and field staff who currently work for teams other than the Yankees or Mets — with this query:

If you could have either Gerrit Cole or Jacob deGrom for the 2020 season, at identical salaries, which ace would you choose and why?

Read the full article via New York Post

World Series Or Bust: Mookie Betts Stuns New Dodgers Teammates With A Spring Training Challenge

David Price’s cell phone rang on the eve the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first spring training workout.

Mookie Betts, his teammate with the Boston Red Sox who was traded with him to LA, had an idea he wanted to run by Price.

Price listened, gave his blessing, but still wasn’t sure how this would come across.

After all, they were the new kids on the block, and now Betts wanted to lecture the team on how to go about their spring drills?

“I told him, ‘If it’s something you feel very strongly about, something you need to address, go ahead and do it'” Price said. “But make sure you choose your words wisely. Do it the right way.

Read the full article via USA Today Sports

A Beer Nerd’s Guide To Baseball: Ranking Every Stadium By Craft Beer Offerings

To many fans in today’s baseball stadiums, a beer fits the hand like a ball in a glove.  The game itself — the pace, length, even the volume — seems to fit the beverage more than any other. And, increasingly, that beer in your hand at the ballpark is from a local craft brewery instead of a national macro brewery.Just as the food options at most stadiums have begun to include smaller shops dedicated to interesting, well-crafted food sourced from the local culture, beer options have trended toward suds from local craft breweries over the past five years.

That follows a national trend: Nearly five times as much craft beer is being sold today as was sold 15 years ago.

Read the full article via The Athletic (Subscription Required)

Need A Team To Root For To Beat The Hated Astros? Try The Angels

I offer you the Los Angeles Angels.

Just in case you are looking for a team to support. Or eyeing a backup plan because you are a little uneasy about your club. Or just because you like baseball.

At this point, enough playoff games have been contested without Mike Trout. And October would be more fun — tons more fun — with Shohei Ohtani pitching. And hitting. And generally stretching the concepts of what one baseball player can do.

Read the full article via NY Post

50 HRs AND A Gold Glove? This Guy Could Do It

Last season, the A’s were the only team that had two players finish among the top six in the American League MVP Award race, as shortstop Marcus Semien placed third and third baseman Matt Chapman came in sixth. First baseman Matt Olson, meanwhile, was something of an afterthought.

Olson received a single MVP vote, tying for 21st. But the young slugger had a terrific season in his own right, hitting 36 homers, recording an .896 OPS and winning a Gold Glove Award.

He was also a Statcast superstar. Just look at his 2019 MLB Rankings chart. And yet, there’s a sense that the well-rounded first baseman still hasn’t reached his potential when it comes to actual production.

Olson is poised to change that in 2020. In fact, he could find himself in rarefied air, pulling off a combination that has been achieved by just four players in MLB history: 50 home runs AND a Gold Glove Award in the same season. These are the only players who have done it since the Gold Glove Award was introduced in 1957. An impressive list, to say the least.

Read the full article via MLBRichard Wachtel

The Nats Report is a daily e-newsletter that focuses on the latest Washington Nationals and MLB headlines, rumors, news, trades, and more. Please consider contributing to support our work.

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