MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nats to use spring to gain comfort in new positions

Zimmerman, Escobar forming right side of infield; Harper, Werth switching spots in outfield

Nats to use spring to gain comfort in new positions

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals enter Spring Training with high expectations, and for good reason: They have arguably the best pitching staff in baseball, and their offense isn't too bad either.

The Nationals will have different players on the right side of the infield. Ryan Zimmerman, a third baseman by trade, will be the new first baseman. And Yunel Escobar, who played every day at shortstop for most of his career, will now be the everyday second baseman.

Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth will switch outfield positions. Werth will play left field, while Harper moves over to right. Health will also matter for this team. Last year, key players such as Harper, Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos missed a lot of time because of injuries. General manager Mike Rizzo is expecting the offense to be even better because those players are back to 100 percent.

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It was the offense that slipped during the National League Division Series against the Giants, which forced the end of the Nationals' season earlier than expected. But things are expected to be different this season.

Here's is a look at the Nationals' projected lineup for the 2015 season.

2014 record
96-66, first in the NL East

Projected batting order
1. CF Denard Span :
.302 BA, .355 OBP, .416 SLG, 5 HR, 37 RBI in 2014
2. 3B Anthony Rendon :
.287 BA, .351 OBP, .473 SLG, 21 HR, 83 RBI in 2014
3. LF Jayson Werth :
.292 BA, .394 OBP, .455 SLG, 16 HR, 82 RBI in 2014
4. 1B Ryan Zimmerman:
.280 BA, .342 OBP, .449 SLG, 5 HR, 38 RBI in 2014
5. RF Bryce Harper:
.273 BA, .344 OBP, .423 SLG, 13 HR, 32 RBI in 2014
6. SS Ian Desmond :
.255 BA, .313 OBP, .430 SLG, 24 HR, 91 RBI in 2014
7. C Wilson Ramos:
.267 BA, .299 OBP, .399 SLG, 11 HR, 47 RBI in 2014
8. 2B Yunel Escobar:
.258 BA, .324 OBP, .340 SLG, 7 HR, 39 RBI in 2014

Projected rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg , 14-11, 3.14 ERA in 2014
2. Jordan Zimmermann , 14-5, 2.66 ERA in 2014
3. Max Scherzer , 18-5, 3.15 ERA in 2014
4. Doug Fister , 16-6, 2.41 ERA in 2014
5. Gio Gonzalez , 10-10, 3.57 ERA in 2014

Projected bullpen
Closer: Drew Storen , 11 saves, 1.12 ERA in 2014
RH setup man: Casey Janssen , 3.94 ERA in 2014
RH setup man: Aaron Barrett , 2.66 ERA in 2014

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.