Bill Ladson

Pitchers, catchers report to Nats camp, get right to work

Fister excited to reunite with Scherzer as part of impressive rotation

Pitchers, catchers report to Nats camp, get right to work

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals pitchers and catchers reported to Space Coast Stadium on Thursday morning ready to work. There was right-hander Stephen Strasburg throwing on flat ground. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez was working out in the weight room. Doug Fister, the team's wins leader last season, also made an appearance.

"We have a lot of work to do, but I'm with a great group of guys. That's first and foremost," Fister said.

Fister and newcomer Max Scherzer are teammates for the first time since 2013 when they were with the Tigers. How does Fister feel about having Scherzer as a teammate again?

"[Having Scherzer] is going to be a huge thing for us. It's an honor to have him back. It's going to be a great addition for us," Fister said. "He is an incredible guy. … He has a wealth of knowledge, has the ability to execute and go out there and play ball. He is a guy that goes out there and battles for you. That's what you want as a teammate."

Outlook: Scherzer, SP, WSH

Expectations in the clubhouse are high. No, the Nats are not using the slogan, "World Series or bust" like they did in 2013, but anything short of a Fall Classic appearance would be disappointing.

It doesn't hurt that the Nationals have an incredible rotation which includes Strasburg, Scherzer and Jordan Zimmermann.

"I love what [general manager Mike] Rizzo has done. He always stacks pitching," closer Drew Storen said. "You look at our starting rotation, it's absurd, honestly. It's great. I always love our bullpen. So it's going to be exciting. It's going to tough for those opposing hitters."

Some position players are already in camp. Outfielder Michael Taylor, catcher Wilson Ramos and second baseman Danny Espinosa were seen in their workout jerseys. Espinosa, sporting a Fu Manchu similar to Al Hrabosky's, will be learning how to hit right-handed exclusively this spring. He declined to talk to the media about his new approach at the plate.

Outlook: Espinosa, 2B, WSH

Ramos, who missed a lot of action last year because of a broken hamate bone and hamstring issues, vows that he wants to catch at least 120 games. Ramos spent the offseason working on his legs in Venezuela.

"I feel 100 percent ready for this year," Ramos said. "The past two years, I had problems with my legs. This offseason I worked a lot on my legs. I was running a lot, working on my agility. … This year, I ran 100 percent in my country. It feels great. I'm happy for that."

Taylor is looking to win a job as a fourth outfielder. He admits he has to cut down his strikeouts. Taylor received a taste of big league life last August. In his second Major League at-bat, he homered off Mets right-hander Carlos Torres.

If Taylor has a productive year, he could be the everyday center fielder by 2016.

Top Prospects: Taylor, WSH

"Every year, I want to come in and get ready for the season and do the best that I can during the spring," he said. "It's not something I'm thinking about. I worked very hard this offseason like every other year. I come in and play ball."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for 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.