Quiet camp is good camp for Nationals

Quiet camp is good camp for Nationals
February 28, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Across Florida and Arizona right now, you'll find plenty of ballclubs dealing with adversity, whether in the form of injury, roster woes or clubhouse controversy.

And then there's Viera, where for 2 1/2 weeks now the Nationals have merely gone about preparing for the upcoming season with hardly any hint of trouble.

Seriously, what has been the biggest news out of Nats camp so far this spring? Bryce Harper adorning the cover of Sports Illustrated? Ross Detwiler being added to Team USA's roster for the World Baseball Classic? Chris Young signing a minor-league deal? Rafael Soriano arriving four days late because of a visa problem?

That's not to say there haven't been a couple of negative developments, but none has seemed all that significant (whether or not Drew Storen had back spasms during Game 5 of the NLDS) or has been brushed aside without snowballing into something bigger (Gio Gonzalez's less-than-ironclad connection to Biogenesis).

Yes, there have been a few injury concerns. But, again, nothing that will devastate the club, unless you believe Christian Garcia's forearm strain is more serious than the team believes and that the right-hander is going to play a major role on the team this season.

The significant players returning from injury all appear to be healthy and on track to be 100 percent for Opening Day. Ryan Zimmerman has ramped up his throwing program and should be in the lineup in about a week. Same for Wilson Ramos, who looks strong as ever following a torn ACL. And Danny Espinosa hasn't shown any ill effects (so far) of the left shoulder tear he's going to play through this season.

There aren't even any real position battles to monitor this spring, with 24 of the 25 Opening Day roster spots set (again, barring injury) and only one bullpen job up for grabs among a couple of contenders.

At this point, the only decisions that must be made are the batting order (whether Harper hits second or third) and the starting rotation order (how Davey Johnson chooses to line up Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Detwiler and Dan Haren behind ace Stephen Strasburg).

Kind of a far cry from that spring when the Nationals' rotation was going to be John Patterson and then 12 guys fighting for the other four spots, huh?

This is the way it's supposed to be for a World Series contender. No drama. No major question marks. Just a group of really talented players preparing for the season, with a manager who understands how a camp should be paced. Take it easy early, slowly ramp up over the course of March and then start taking things seriously with one week to go.

There's no guarantee things will stay this way. One major injury or other unforeseen bombshell obviously could throw a wrench into the Nationals' plan.

But at this stage of the spring, Viera has been perhaps the most boring camp in baseball.

And that's exactly how the Nationals want it.