VIERA, Fla. — Some news and notes to whet your appetite while you wait for the start of today’s Grapefruit League game (not to mention another round of snow back home)…
— Anthony Rendon is starting at third base this afternoon, and don’t be surprised if you see that several more times this spring. There’s a real possibility the Nationals will open the season with no other viable backup to Ryan Zimmerman than Rendon, who of course played third in college and in the minors before switching to second base shortly before his promotion to D.C. last summer.
There are a couple other possible fill-ins at third base, including Danny Espinosa and Jamey Carroll, but manager Matt Williams seemed to indicate today that Rendon is far and away his best option for that role.
“We need him to get reps over there, because he’s the logical choice,” Williams said. “He’s the logical choice of the guys we’ve got. In an Espinosa situation, he could play over there. And he will get some work over there as well. But Anthony is the logical guy, so that’s why he’s playing over there today.”
— Rendon could find himself at third base in the event Ryan Zimmerman sees action game time at first base, and the Nats have taken a few more steps toward making that a reality over the last week. Williams said Zimmerman has now taken groundballs and been schooled on footwork at first base, ramping things up from his first workout there (in which he only scooped up bad throws).
Zimmerman still isn’t close to appearing in a game at first, and before that happens he’ll need to work on some situational drills, but it’s going to happen sometime in the next few weeks.
“It’s not easy to switch, because there’s different responsibilities,” Williams said. “But that’s part of the progression. We’ll go through all that stuff and the get him some innings over there and make sure he’s comfortable.”
— Ryan Mattheus still hasn’t been cleared to resume throwing nearly two weeks since he first injured his upper ribcage during a bullpen session. The reliever has met with doctors, who have told him it should only be a matter of a couple more days before he’s cleared to throw. In the meantime, Mattheus has been able to go through conditioning drills. Basically, everything except throwing a baseball.
— Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen have yet to make their spring debuts, but each will take the mound by midweek. Storen is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the Braves. Clippard hasn’t officially been told yet, but he expects to pitch either Wednesday or Thursday after a brief setback at the start of camp due to a minor back injury.