Nationals

Quick Links

Bench does Dusty Baker, Nationals big favor in win over Braves

Bench does Dusty Baker, Nationals big favor in win over Braves

Following his team's 6-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Labor Day, Dusty Baker emerged from his clubhouse office at Nationals Park clutching five bottles of his signature 'Baker Family' red wine, each sporting a label with baseball seams printed on them, an ode to Dusty's day job as manager of the Nats.

He muttered a question aloud as reporters surrounded Trea Turner for an interview.

"Where's Chris Heisey's locker?"

Baker was looking to drop off gifts for Heisey and others after the Nats' 80th victory of the season, this one paved in part by five bench players who each contributed to varying degrees on offense. Those five: Heisey, Ben Revere, Jose Lobaton, Brian Goodwin and Clint Robinson filled in admirably for five regulars who all took the day off following a quick turnaround from the team's Sunday night game in New York. 

The Nats got back to D.C. at 3 a.m. early Monday morning and many didn't get to sleep until four. They then had to get up for a 4 p.m. game on Monday and report hours before first pitch.

Baker essentially asked his bench to do him a favor and every single one of them came through.

"That's what they're here for," Baker said. "I've always said you can't win with just your regulars. You've got to get those other guys some opportunities to play. We feel very confident, especially for a short period of time, that those guys can do the job. The circle is not complete unless you're dependent on everybody in that circle. Everybody in that circle is important."

Heisey hit a three-run homer in the third inning. Lobaton had two hits and scored a run. Revere doubled and scored, while Goodwin doubled and Robinson drew a walk. Collectively, those five accounted for three runs, which made the difference in a two-run game.

That effort was appreciated by Baker, but also their teammates, whom they picked up.

"We went to sleep at 4 a.m. Everybody's a zombie. For these guys to come out and give that type of effort, especially against this team, that's huge," starter Max Scherzer said. 

"That takes a lot of heart because not everybody's feeling the best… When you see the bench guys go out there and have success and hit home runs, that's everybody doing their jobs and grinding away in September."

"Thankfully, we got the job done as a whole," Turner said. "It’s fun seeing everybody have success. I enjoy watching teammates have success, it’s special.”

For Heisey, he now has nine homers on the season. He has homered once every 14 at-bats, which is best on the Nats. If he had the plate appearances to qualify, that would rank second in the majors behind Mark Trumbo of the Orioles.

Baker knows Heisey's value as much as anyone, as the skipper also coached him in Cincinnati. With nine home runs, Heisey has the most he's put up since 2013 when he was with the Reds.

"That's his job. He knew that when he signed on for this. And he's been one of the best at it," Baker said. "He works on it in BP, and when you're putting this puzzle together, he's one of the pieces that from the right side has some power."

Heisey led the way for a Nats bench that made life a lot easier than it could have been on Baker and the Nationals. And for a team that appears headed towards the playoffs, their depth could come in handy down the road in October.

"That was a big day today, to win that game," Baker said. "The regulars got a day off, get a good night sleep. [Bryce Harper] said it best, sitting next to me in the dugout. He said, 'I love this team because we are a team.' That's the kind of attitude you want to have on a team."

[RELATED: VIDEO: Bryce Harper fakes out Mets fans with baseball]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES

Quick Links

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

Quick Links

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

usatsi_9977852.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm