MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Baker impressed at Nats' first workout

Club's new manager sees difference in how players today arrive at camp

Baker impressed at Nats' first workout

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker had his first meeting with pitchers and catchers at 9:15 a.m. ET on Saturday and the message was simple: Work hard and tell the truth. Baker doesn't have a lot of rules. All the players have to do is show up to work on time.

By 10 a.m., the pitchers and catchers were on to their first workout at the Spring Training facility and Baker was impressed by what he saw. He said everybody was in great shape and the pitchers, such as Max Scherzer and Joe Ross, were throwing hard. Yusmeiro Petit, according to Baker, "threw strike after strike after strike."

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Gear

"Some of the young players, they are trying to impress," Baker said. "Not only were they throwing hard, you could tell that they have been throwing [for a while]. A lot of them came from cold climates, which is even more impressive. I'm really excited by what we have going on here."

Pitching coach Mike Maddux had to calm down some of the pitchers because they wanted to throw more than the required 10 minutes. Baker also was impressed with how the catchers were blocking pitches and throwing the ball.

"I was surprised by the shape that the guys came in. I don't really know a lot of these guys. It was a very good first day," Baker said. "It's a different time and a different era where you have to come to Spring Training in shape. [In the past] you needed the first couple of weeks to stay in shape. You have to come in shape now because you don't have much time between the reporting date and the first exhibition game."

Baker did report that right-hander Matt Belisle suffered a calf injury, but it's not serious.

One person Baker met for the first time was right-hander Lucas Giolito, who is considered the Nationals' top prospect and the No. 3 prospect in baseball per MLBPipeline.com. Giolito told Baker the two met years ago when Giolito was a little kid, but the skipper said he didn't remember the meeting.

"[Giolito] was 6 years old and now he is 6-foot-6," Baker said.

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.