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Baker on Nats' clubhouse chemistry, working with GM Mike Rizzo

Baker on Nats' clubhouse chemistry, working with GM Mike Rizzo

Before Dusty Baker took over as Nationals manager, he had heard the stories about their clubhouse, about how infighting and disputes both public and private had played a role in their derailment both on and off the field in 2015. 

Baker, though, has been pleasantly surprised thus far through 18 games in the regular season.

"Probably the camaraderie is better because all I heard was how dysfunctional this team was. That's all I heard. I haven't seen it and I don't want to see it," Baker said.

Winning, of course, helps. The Nationals have the best record in baseball at 14-4 and are mostly healthy. Everybody likes to win and the Nats have faced very little adversity so far.

"Winning makes it fun," Baker said. "And it's like any other office. If people get along then you've got a chance to be more productive and you're pulling for each other much more than when you don't get along. There's nothing worse when you're in an office where you don't like the people there and half of them don't like you. That doesn't make it very pleasant to come to work."

First baseman Clint Robinson also touched on the topic and said some of the stuff from 2015 may have been overblown, anyways.

"I think the negative comments about our clubhouse came as a result of us not living up to expectations. People, they look for a reason as to why we didn't reach our expectations last year. And one of those reasons was a dysfunctional clubhouse, but I don't think that was the case. We didn't play like we should have last year, but this is a new year. I think we have a great group of guys," Robinson said.

Baker has also been pleased with his working relationship with general manager Mike Rizzo. Baker didn't know Rizzo well before joining the Nationals, but heard good things from former Nats manager Matt Williams, whom Baker coached in San Francisco. He also spoke with Johnny DiPuglia, the team's vice president of international operations.

"What I've learned is that he's very compassionate," Baker said of Rizzo. "He's easily excited. He knows baseball from a player's standpoint which is different from most general managers that you're going to run into. He's a former scout and talent evaluator. I think about half my job is evaluating talent and what I think the talent might become. He has a heck of an idea. I really like working with him. He trusts me. He trusts my judgement on things, which makes it easier to work with somebody that trusts you."

Rizzo handed Baker a talented roster and the 66-year-old skipper is happy with how things have gone to this point.

"This was a good team when I got here. I'm just trying to help us be better without getting in the way," Baker said.

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Nationals Roundup: Justin Miller gets an injection in his right shoulder

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Nationals Roundup: Justin Miller gets an injection in his right shoulder

Player Notes:

Right-handed pitcher Justin Miller received an injection in his right shoulder. Miller recently stopped his rehab assignment because of renewed stiffness. He's been on the IL since May. 

Matt Adams was available against the Diamondbacks Friday night after 'tweaking' his oblique Monday; Howie Kendrick got the start at first base. 

Outfielder Adam Eaton got a well-deserved rest day Friday. Michael Taylor took on center field responsibilities while Victor Robles shifted over to right field. 

Injuries:

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Foot, could return mid-June

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, out indefinitely 

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

Coming Up:

Saturday 6/15: Nationals vs. Diamondbacks, 4:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Sunday 6/16:  Nationals vs. Diamondbacks, 1:35 p.m., Nationals Park

Monday 6/17: Nationals vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

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Source: Rotoworld

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Zimmerman and Doolittle rep school pride at Nationals Park UVA Night

Zimmerman and Doolittle rep school pride at Nationals Park UVA Night

Ahead of Friday’s matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Nationals hosted the University of Virginia Night at the ballpark and the men’s basketball championship team joined as special guests.

Nationals closer Sean Doolittle and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, both Cavaliers during their college days, took the chance to rep their school pride.

The two alums posed for pictures with the championship trophy, with Doolittle decked out in a UVA shirt and championship hat.

Zimmerman and Doolittle played ball together for the Cavaliers in 2005 while Zimmerman was a junior and Doolittle was a freshman.

While at UVA, the Cavaliers both players collected several accolades. Zimmerman was named 2005 All-American and named to the 2004 Charlottesville NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team. Doolittle formerly held the record for wins in a career for a Virginia pitcher and in 2005 and 2006 was named to the USA National (Collegiate) Baseball Team.

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