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Nats excited to play for Dusty Baker: 'Guys just love playing for him'

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Nats excited to play for Dusty Baker: 'Guys just love playing for him'

After a two-year trial with an unexperienced manager, the Nationals went far in the other direction this time around by hiring Dusty Baker, a baseball lifer of almost 50 seasons. He played 19 years, was an assistant coach, then managed 20 seasons before landing in Washington.

Baker has done so much in baseball that he's a man who needs no introduction. When he was hired by the Nationals, their players didn't need to Google who he was or what he had done. They already knew, either through their own experience of playing against him, or from word-of-mouth among MLB players.

"[His record] kind of speaks for itself," Jayson Werth. "When you watch him in the past and with him handling teams and superstar players, it speaks for itself. I think he's coming to the team at the right time and I think everyone is excited and we're looking forward to it."

Most veteran players crossed paths with him back when he coached the Reds, but several members of the Nats knew of Dusty long before they reached the majors.

"He probably doesn't remember this," Stephen Strasburg said. "But when I was in freshman summer ball in college I went out to ESPN and took a tour and I met him there actually. That was the first time I met him, but I don't think it was a memorable experience for him."

"I met him a few years ago. I just happened to run into him at a restaurant," Joe Ross said. "I know his nephew. He knows my dad. I've heard a lot of good things about him. He seems like a straight shooter. We'll have fun and get a long pretty well. It should be good to see what's going to go down in spring training."

Ross knows Baker's nephew because he was the scout credited with signing the right-hander to the San Diego Padres.

"I wouldn't say I was shy, but I was probably like 19. I wasn't going to go up and say 'hey, I'm Joe Ross. Nice to meet you.' I was trying to leave him alone, but of course my dad was first to go say something, so I had to follow behind and say hello. I think he remembered me from then."

After the Nats hired Baker, bench player Clint Robinson tweeted a picture of Dusty's book called 'You Can Teach Hitting.' It was the first hitting book Clint's father bought for him when he was six years old.

Baker saw the tweets and talked to Robinson about the book this past week when they finally met face-to-face.

"My dad bought it for me," Robinson said. "He was just trying to coach me up as a little kid and he bought me the Dusty Baker book. I've still got it at my mom's house. She's got it in a box somewhere. I went home for Thanksgiving and I couldn't find it, but she said she's got it. I'm going to try to get it from her before I go to spring training and maybe have him sign it."

Robinson hasn't read the book in decades, but he still recalls one of the lessons.

"There were a couple of things my dad and I still kind of joke about. There was a page in the book about hitting pigeon-toed, like each toe facing each other when you're in the batters box. I think that's more of a teaching tool for younger kids, but I always remembered the pigeon-toed part of that book."

Baker has been around the block and that was evident in his opening press conference when he name-dropped everyone from the President of the United States to Hank Aaron. Everybody knows Dusty.

"We actually got to hang out [at the Nationals Youth Academy] and spent some time together with each other and with the kids. He's awesome," Anthony Rendon said.

"He had a story for everything. Tal Alter, who runs the academy, he would name somebody he had an interaction with and Dusty would be like 'yeah, I know that guy. We did this and that together.' I'm like 'this dude has a story for every single person.'"

Some Nationals players did ask around about Baker after he was hired, and they didn't need to search far. Baker has played and coached long enough to know just about everyone in the game.

"I’m really excited," Max Scherzer said. "I’ve talked to a bunch of different players across generations now and everybody has just come back and raved about him. They’ve talked about how personal he is in the clubhouse. I’m really excited to get to spring training to see what he’s got and see how he can help our ballclub.

"[They all say ] how funny he is. How he keeps everybody loose in the clubhouse. And just his personality. It’s things like that. Guys just love playing for him and love what he does for the ballclub. Guys who were in the 1990’s, 2000’s … Everybody loved Dusty."

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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