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Baker names starter for home opener, sets rotation order

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Baker names starter for home opener, sets rotation order

ATLANTA — When the Nationals return to Washington for their home opener on Thursday it will be Tanner Roark who gets the start.

That decision was up in the air after four rainouts in 10 games at the end of the Nats' Grapefruit League schedule forced Dusty Baker to make an adjustment. Stephen Strasburg was the original plan for Thursday's game against the Marlins, but he is now set to start the second game of the season in Atlanta. 

Gio Gonzalez will skip his start in the first turn of the Nationals' rotation and then slide in between Max Scherzer and Strasburg in the second week. Two off-days in the first week of their schedule allowed Baker and his coaching staff to get creative. 

Here's how the Nats' rotation plan will look through their first homestand:

4/4 at Braves - Scherzer
4/6 at Braves - Strasburg
4/7 vs. Marlins - Roark
4/9 vs. Marlins - Joe Ross
4/10 vs. Marlins - Scherzer
4/11 vs. Braves - Gonzalez
4/12 vs. Braves - Strasburg
4/13 vs. Braves - Roark
4/14 vs. Braves - Ross

Roark earns the nod for the home opener after a strong spring training that saw him allow only four earned runs in 18 innings of work. Through his first four outings he allowed only one run through 14 innings.

Roark impressed Baker after entering camp needing to prove himself to a new coaching staff.

"I mean, he wants it," Baker said. "This guy, he told me when I talked to him in spring training that he wants to start. I told him 'hey, man, if that's what you want, then go for it.' If you want to tell the world then go ahead. It's your mouth. He told the world he wants to start. There it is. Go for it. I like that attitude."

[RELATED: Nats writers Hughes and Shiferaw predict the 2016 MLB season]

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE