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Suzuki arrives, Flores adjusts

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Suzuki arrives, Flores adjusts

Kurt Suzuki learned of his trade from the Athletics to the Nationals around 11 a.m. PDT Friday. His first reaction upon hearing the news?

"Get me on the first flight out," the 28-year-old catcher said. "I want to be there as soon as I can to help the team. I was really looking forward to this opportunity. This is a good situation for me."

Suzuki arrived in Washington late Friday night and this afternoon was strolling through the clubhouse at Nationals Park in a red curly W cap, shaking hands and meeting new teammates, coaches, clubhouse attendants and media members. All this before actually taking his position behind the plate for his Nationals debut at 7:05 p.m.

"It's been a whirlwind, for sure," he said.

Suzuki, who was dealt from Oakland in exchange for minor-league catcher David Freitas, immediately takes over as the Nationals' No. 1 catcher. The man he replaces, Jesus Flores, wasn't nearly as excited to learn of the trade and his subsequent relegation to a reserve role but cleared the air with manager Davey Johnson during a closed-door meeting this afternoon.

"I had a long conversation with Jesus, and we're alright," Johnson said. "We're good to go. ... We got an established catcher. Jesus was playing very well about three years ago before suffering a major shoulder injury. He's made great strides in coming back, but he's not quite where I know he can be. That was basically the conversation."

Though the Nationals announced the Suzuki trade around 2:30 p.m. Friday, Flores told reporters he hadn't been informed of the deal when asked for his reaction eight hours later at the conclusion of a doubleheader split with the Marlins.

"That's just part of the life we lead," Johnson said. "Midseason trades are obviously more difficult than offseason trades. But he's not going anywhere. His role has changed a little bit. Your role is predicated on performance. The better you play, the bigger the role you get. That's kind of the way baseball has been played ever since I can remember."

Suzuki has spent his entire, six-year career with the A's, and other than ex-teammate Gio Gonzalez, he's never caught anyone on the Nationals staff. He took a crash course on various pitchers' repertoires, particularly Jordan Zimmermann, who starts tonight's game.

"That's the most important thing: To build that relationship with the pitchers," he said. "That's what I take my pride in. It's going to definitely be a little bit of a work in progress, but I'm going to do everything I can to speed up the process. I think it'll be OK."

The Nationals want Suzuki -- who at the time of the trade led all qualifying AL catchers with a .996 fielding percentage and 38.3 percent caught stealing percentage -- to focus primarily on his defensive game for now, helping guide what has been baseball's best pitching staff this season through a pennant race.

"That's the one thing I'm really looking forward to, working with these pitchers, getting to know them," he said. "I had a great pitching staff in Oakland for a number of years, and to come here, these guys are incredibly talented. I've been watching them on TV and watching them pitch, and I'm really excited."

To clear space on the active roster for Suzuki, the Nationals optioned Sandy Leon to Class AAA Syracuse.

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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

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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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