There is a report that the Nationals expressed interest in Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore and pitcher Fausto Carmona. Is there any truth to the report? And are the two clubs close to a deal?
-- Chris D., Washington

I spoke to two sources about the situation. One went so far as to say that the Nationals have not expressed interest in Sizemore and Carmona. Another source said that he doesn't expect Washington to make a major deal before Spring Training.

With the Tom Gorzelanny trade, the Nats seem to have a boatload of starting pitching with Major League experience. Who do you think will be the starting five when the 2011 season starts?
-- William B., Silver Spring, Md.

I answered a similar question before the Gorzelanny trade. I believe the rotation will be the same one I had the last time: Livan Hernandez, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Yunesky Maya. I would not be surprised if Gorzelanny is a long reliever to start the season or if general manager Mike Rizzo trades one of his pitchers before Spring Training. I expect Rizzo to make moves before Opening Day.

Do you really believe Rizzo when he says he is confident about the Nats' rotation? It seems like a cover-up to hide the fact that the Nationals couldn't get a No. 1 starter.
-- Alex C., Montreal

It's not a cover-up. Rizzo believes that a healthy Zimmermann and Marquis will make a difference in the rotation. Remember, they missed a lot of action due to injuries. Rizzo also believes Lannan and Maya will be consistent on the mound in 2011.

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Question:

I'm just curious about the last couple roster spots. It's been reported that the Nationals want people who will accept their roles on the bench. With Alberto Gonzalez's complaints about a lack of playing time last year, is he out before Opening Day? I tend to think that it's going to be Alex Cora and Jerry Hairston Jr. at the end of the bench. Your thoughts?
-- Jonathan R., Washington

There is no question in my mind that Gonzalez's days are numbered in Washington. I don't think the Nationals signed Cora for Minor League duties. From what I understand from people in the organization, Gonzalez was often upset about playing time. I can tell you that he will never play every day as a member of the Nats as long as Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa are healthy.

This offseason has been all about starting pitching and acquiring a first baseman, but what about the Nationals' bullpen? Aren't you a little worried that the Nats don't have an established closer and they let go of Joel Peralta and Miguel Batista, who were outstanding last year?
-- Eric O., Alexandria, Va.

I don't want to jinx the bullpen, but it's the least of the Nats' problems. I believe Washington will name a closer by Opening Day. I think players such as Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Henry Rodriguez will make up for the loss of Peralta and Batista. I also expect Todd Coffey and Collin Balester to play huge roles as well.

Are there any free-agent pitchers left who the Nationals can sign that would make an impact on the starting rotation?
-- Bobby B., Eastchester, N.Y.

The answer is no. If they get a starter, it will come via trade.

Is this Nyjer Morgan's last chance to prove he is a big leaguer, at least in Washington?
-- Josiah L., Washington

I think it's safe to say that Morgan has a lot to prove. Manager Jim Riggleman already announced that Morgan must hit better against left-handers or he will find himself in a platoon situation. If Morgan doesn't produce, I would not be surprised if Rick Ankiel gets regular playing time in center field.