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2017 Nationals Spring Training Dates: Schedule, Opponents, location

2017 Nationals Spring Training Dates: Schedule, Opponents, location

Looking to pick up where they left last season, the Washington Nationals will begin their quest toward the 2017 World Series when 2017 Spring Training begins in February.

Coming off their 2016 NL East championship with NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, the Nationals first step will be the Grapefruit League and spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla. 

It will be the Nationals their first chance to work newly aquired veteran catcher, Derek Norris with their pitching staff after longtime starter Wilson Ramos left to join the Blue Jays.

The teams has also yet to aquire another closer this off-season, leaving Mark Melancon as the team's top option in 2017.

In the Grapefruit League, Washington will play fellow division rivals the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Miami Marlins. Also in the league are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals.

Last season the Nationals made the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the NL, before losing to the NL West champions Los Angeles Dodgers. 

RELATED: NATIONALS REGULAR SEASON OUTLOOK

Important Nationals 2017 Spring Training Dates: 

Spring Training Location: West Palm Beach, Fla.

Pitchers and Catchers Report: Feb. 14

Pitchers and Catchers First Workout: Feb. 16

Position Players Report: Feb. 17

First Full Workout: Feb. 19

Spring Training Opener: Feb. 25 @ New York Mets

Click here for Nationals' full Spring Training Schedule

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Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has rocked MLB and left a dark shadow over the league during offseason. Up until this point, despite a fired general manager and on-field manager, the players at the root of the scandal have remained silent on the subject and avoided questions from the media.

That will all change in Spring Training as the Astros players plan to make "a strong statement as a team," according to Astros' owner Jim Crane. 

"When we get down to Spring Training, we'll all get them together and they'll come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we'll move forward," Crane said in a media scrum.

Over the weekend the team held their annual winter FanFest where several players had to face the music as many players met with the media for the first time. Jose Altuve, who is one of the players who allegedly benefited from the sign-stealing, dodged the question as best he could. The Astros shortstop's comments coincide with Crane's, saying “I think the time to comment about that will come. It’s a little early for me to say something about it.” 

Outside of their FanFest event, there is little that has come out of the clubhouse. Their owner acknowledged the lack of communication from the players and said the players were advised to stay out of the conversation. 

"The players have been beaten up a little bit and they've been all spread out. They've just kinda getting [sic] advice to take it easy."

Already Spring Training in West Palm Beach is going to be awkward between the two teams that made the World Series last season. The Nationals, who won the World Series whether or not the Astros used their system to gain an advantage, have their facilities next door to Houston's.

And if the Astros sign former Nationals' manager Dusty Baker to the same position in wake of A.J. Hinch's firing, there will be even more tense situations at Spring Training this year. 

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MLB Rumors: Braves reportedly agree to one-year contract with OF Marcell Ozuna

MLB Rumors: Braves reportedly agree to one-year contract with OF Marcell Ozuna

The Braves had a massive hole in the middle of their lineup after Josh Donaldson signed a four-year, $92 million contract with the Twins last week. 

In response, the Nationals' biggest rival in the NL East has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with outfielder Marcell Ozuna. 

The Braves and Nationals both have to focus on replacing significant production at third base with Donaldson and Anthony Rendon moving on with lucrative contracts. The Nationals acquired Starlin Castro, brought back Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera and are hoping for a big step forward from Victor Robles. 

With Ozuna, the Braves may have a better chance at replacing Donaldson in the lineup than the Nationals have with replacing Rendon. 

In two seasons with the Cardinals, Ozuna posted a .262/.327/.451 slash line with 52 home runs and 177 RBI. 

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