4/1/2013 1:24 P.M. ET
Span debuts in center, collects first Nats hit
By Tom Schad and Andrew Simon / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Denard Span made his Nationals debut on Monday, going 1-for-4 with a single and recording two putouts in center field in Washington's Opening Day win over the Marlins.
Span, who Washington acquired during the offseason from the Minnesota Twins, played in the Nationals' exhibition game against the New York Yankees on Friday. But he knew that the atmosphere would be a little bit different on Opening Day.
"I came here during the offseason, but the atmosphere was definitely different with people in the stands," Span said before the game. "It's just a beautiful ballpark. It exceeded my expectations."
Span batted .222 with three doubles and one RBI in Spring Training. He also stole three bases, showing some of the speed that made him such an important addition to the Nationals' lineup this offseason.
Davey reiterates that 2013 opener is likely last
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson sat down for his first pregame press conference of the season on Monday and confirmed that this will be his last Opening Day as manager.
"It's my last one sitting right here talking to you," Johnson said. "I don't know what's in store for me. I have no idea. My wife talks about traveling, and then she also wonders what I'm going to be doing for a job. She wants me to keep working; she wants to retire. So that's another little battle going on. I want to keep working, so we'll see."
Johnson previously has said this will be his last season as the Nationals' manager. When asked if there are any combination of circumstances that could lead to him returning as manager, Johnson said, "probably not."
"I've mentioned it before, I think I'm the person for the challenge this year," Johnson said. "I think the development of this ballclub can culminate in the end of this year. Then I'll probably turn it over to a younger, more energetic manager. That's my thought."
Johnson could likely stay on with the team as a consultant, as he was before former manager Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned in 2011. Or he could leave baseball entirely. Even Johnson, as of Monday, sounded unsure about what his future holds.
"I don't really go back, and I don't go too far ahead," he said. "That's the way I live."
Ramos has strong day in return to action
WASHINGTON -- A little less than 11 months ago, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos chased after a passed ball during a game in Cincinnati and tore the meniscus in his right knee, ending his season.
On Monday afternoon at Nationals Park, the 25-year-old was in the Opening Day lineup against the Marlins, capping a long road to recovery following a pair of surgeries. Even better, Ramos went 1-for-2 with a walk and caught all nine innings of a 2-0 victory in his first regular-season game since the injury.
"He's looked great all spring, so we've had a chance to see him for almost a full month now, and I'm just happy for him," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He's such a good young player and a great teammate, and you hate to see anything bad like that happen, but that's what happens in sports. I think the way he went through it and fought to get back so quickly, I think that tells you what kind of person he is."
For the second year in a row, Ramos is coming back from a difficult situation. In November 2011, he was abducted in his native Venezuela and held for 51 hours before his rescue by government forces.
The previous season, he had finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting, after posting a .267/.334/.445 batting line and slugging 15 home runs in 113 games. He made it through only 25 games in 2012 before the injury struck, but teammates weren't surprised to see him make it back.
"I know the guy," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "We're around him all the time, and I remember last year after the whole kidnapping thing, he came back completely humbled and he was on track to do something special last year and he gets injured, and then he worked hard."
Desmond was watching before Monday's game when Ramos stepped on a scale and weighed in at 235 pounds, exactly what he told the team's training staff he would get to for Opening Day.
Ramos was excited on Friday, when he learned he would get the Opening Day start over veteran Kurt Suzuki, who is slated to split time behind the plate with Ramos this season. That carried into Monday, as he walked in his first at-bat, singled in his second and helped guide starter Stephen Strasburg through seven efficient shutout innings.
"We all go through trials and tribulations, and they build your character, and this is a perfect example," Desmond said. "He definitely looks at baseball in a different light now."
Garcia says arm 'feels great' after throwing
WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Christian Garcia threw from 60 feet on Monday and said his arm "feels great."
"It went really well. I couldn't have done any better," Garcia said. "The ball came out of my hand well."
Garcia is on the disabled list because of a right forearm tendon injury. He will stay with the Nationals until they leave for Cincinnati on Thursday evening and then begin a throwing program in Viera, Fla.
Garcia didn't pitch in a Grapefruit League game after feeling pain in his forearm during the team's first workout in February. But when asked if his arm was feeling good after Monday's throwing session, he said it felt, "really good -- it all felt great."
"Yeah, he felt great," manager Davey Johnson said. "He just played catch. Shoot, it's been, I think, two months [since the injury]. He finally got the OK and he was all grins."
Desmond, Nats not close on extension
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Ian Desmond are not close in talks to extend the shortstop's contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Desmond was arbitration-eligible last offseason but signed a one-year deal worth $3.8 million before Spring Training. Talks between the two sides have never been close.
"I'm trying to do everything I can to win a World Series, and talking about that or revisiting that isn't really helping," Desmond said Monday. "So we'll see where it goes."
During batting practice before Monday's game, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo also declined to talk about any contract discussions.
"We don't discuss negotiations with players and that kind of thing," Rizzo said. "But we feel Ian is one of our leaders, he's one of the guys that are our core players and he's a guy that we'd like to be with the Nationals for a long time."
• Rizzo said the team has reached out to right-hander Chris Young but a deal has not been reached. Young was released by the team last Tuesday.
"Our assistant GM has been in contact with his representatives and I think the decision is in Chris' hands," Rizzo said. "But I haven't spoken to him today at all."
•Rizzo and Desmond both said the team is not concerned about playing with high expectations this season. Washington has been picked by Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine and several local and national writers to win the World Series.
"On paper is one thing, in Spring Training is another thing, but the grind of 162 games is what this thing's all about," Rizzo said.
Added Desmond: "All that stuff, what does it weigh? It's just words from people that aren't playing."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.