BY CHASE HUGHES AND J.J. REGAN
Here are the updates from Day 1 of Nationals WinterFest 2015...
2:55 p.m. — Hughes: Jayson Werth was the final player of the day to meet with the media and he touched on a wide range of topics. He said he was glad to see Bryce Harper win the MVP award, how he doesn't think the Harper and Papelbon situation will persist, even if Papelbon remains on the roster. He also told a great story about Barry Bonds when asked about the former superstar's return to baseball. Werth said he was on the Dodgers when they went to San Francisco in 2005 for a four-game series. Manager Jim Tracy gave the Dodgers specific instructions to not throw Bonds a strike the entire series. So, through the first two games he never saw a strike and drew several walks. He didn't play the third day, but in the fourth game he took the only strike he saw all series and splashed it into McCovey's Cove in right field. Werth said it was one of the most impressive things he has seen in baseball.
2:07 p.m. — Regan: Anthony Rendon struggled to get into a rhythm last season due to injuries and said like he felt he was playing catchup all year. He is excited about the move to third base, the position in which he feels most comfortable. He was also amazed by Dusty Baker's experience and history throughout the league, saying the new manager had a story for everyone and everything. Rendon is also very distraught at the state of his beloved Houston Rockets.
2:01 p.m. — Regan: The most important update from Danny Espinosa is that he currently has a beard again and intends to grow it out until picture day. With Ian Desmond's expected departure from the team in free agency, that leaves an opening at shortstop, an opening that Espinosa clearly hopes to fill. Espinosa cycled positions last year as a utility infielder, and while he stressed he will do anything to get more at bats, he also made clear that he sees himself as a shortstop and believes he can be the Nationals starter at that position this season. He also said he is 100 percent healthy with no lingering injury issues this offseason.
1:11 p.m. — Hughes: We have updates now from Max Scherzer, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Taylor as they keep bringing out players for rapid-fire interview sessions. Scherzer said he was happy for Jordan Zimmermann to get a deal with his former team, the Detroit Tigers. He is also very excited to play for Dusty Baker, whom he has heard great things about from current and former players. Scherzer also told us the backstory of his ESPN commercial, saying he was thrilled to work with Ken Jeong from The Hangover movies. Zimmerman said he is fully healthy and his golf swing looks better than ever. He dealt with several injuries last season, most notably plantar fasciitis. Zimmerman also commented on the Bryce Harper/Jonathan Papelbon situation, saying "it would have been weird" if nothing happened between teammates given their losing season. He said he did not condone the actions, but understands the frustration for both players. Taylor did not speak for long as he is known to do. But he did say he has met Baker and looks forward to playing for him.
12:34 p.m. — Regan: If there was one thing Stephen Strasburg wanted the media to take away from today, it's that he's not thinking about his pending free agency. All he would say was that he was focused on the now. When referencing his back surgery in which he had a non-cancerous growth removed, Strasburg said he would not use it as an excuse for this poor 2015 season. He also said he was happy for Jordan Zimmermann getting his new deal with Detroit and that he was excited for Giolito to join the team for spring training.
11:41 a.m. — Regan: According to Mike Rizzo, the Nationals will no longer pursue closer Aroldis Chapman following the domestic violence allegations he is now facing. Rizzo had nothing but good things to say about Jason Heyward who the team pursued until yesterday when it was learned he would be signing with the Chicago Cubs. He also stated that prized pitching prospect Lucas Giolito will be invited to spring training this year, his first with the major league club. Rizzo informed the media that the team has reached a deal with reliever Yusmeiro Petit, pending a physical. As for why Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen are not at WinterFest, well, according to Rizzo they both had prior commitments which prevented them from attending.
11:18 a.m. — Regan: Dusty Baker wins the fashion award for the day as he wore a shirt with tiny bicycles on it. Great look. Baker said he spoke with Matt Williams after he took the job to get a feel for the team and certain players. He says he stressed to Williams that he needed to get back onto the field and was pleased he got a job as the third base coach for Arizona. Baker is still meeting a lot of the players, but talked about how impressed he was by how in shape they all were. He drew a few laughs by saying he will sometimes grab players randomly by the arms or pat them on the stomachs just to check.
11:13 a.m. — Regan: Mike Maddux introduced himself to each member of the media and began talking about how excited he was to work with the Nationals rotation. He is a very big fan of Tanner Roark and said a spot in the rotation was "his job to lose." Maddux said he has not met with every member of the staff yet, just emailed out to introduce himself and tell them what he expected from the offseason. He also talked about how he liked seeing pitcher with some emotion on the mound like Mike Scherzer, though he did clarify that you can pitch with emotion so long as you don't pitch emotionally.
10:41 a.m. — Hughes: We just met new Nationals bench coach Chris Speier, who said he is thrilled to be back in the dugout with longtime friend Dusty Baker. He said he is excited to coach Bryce Harper and that the NL MVP reminds him of Willie Mays, whom he got to play with as a rookie in San Francisco. Speier also noted how he was first drafted by the Washington Senators, but did not sign. So he now feels like he is coming full circle as he looks to help Baker win his first World Series as a manager.