12/10/2013 9:20 P.M. ET
Nats skipper Williams high on Zimmerman
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- During his 17-year playing career, Nationals manager Matt Williams hit .268 with 378 home runs and 1,218 RBIs, winning four National League Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards at third base and earning five NL All-Star selections.
But Williams said Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is better than he ever was.
"He's got so much more ability than I had," Williams said. "What I see in Ryan is a true run producer. And he can do it many ways. I've seen him hit for a very good average. He hits the ball to right-center as well as anybody. Phenomenal fielder, athletic. He could play shortstop if he wanted to. I see a guy that's emerging as a leader on the club."
Williams believes Zimmerman's right shoulder problems are a thing of the past. However, Zimmerman's right arm needs to get stronger.
"I know that from talking to him and talking to the doctors, trainers and our rehab coordinators, his shoulder is 100 percent," Williams said. "It needs to get a little bit stronger, and that's what he's working on. Again, there's a process of injuries. You get injured. They fix it. Then you rehab it, and then you get back into playing shape.
"At the end of last year, he was just getting back to the point where it wasn't a struggle for him to get a ball across the diamond. That is just arm strength. He's working on that now, he'll continue to work on it. And he's going to be just fine."
Nats looking at veteran infielder Chavez
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After agreeing to terms with outfielder Nate McLouth last week, the Nationals are looking to improve their bench even further, and they have inquired about free-agent infielder Eric Chavez. But as a team official put it, "We're not in too deep."
A 16-year veteran, the left-handed-hitting Chavez could provide pop off the bench. He also is an excellent defensive infielder. Chavez won six American League Gold Glove Awards playing third base for the Athletics, and he can also play first base.
This past season, Chavez played for the D-backs, hitting .281 with nine home runs and 44 RBIs in his first year in the National League. As a pinch-hitter, Chavez was 5-for 16 (.313) with a homer and six RBIs.
McLouth is expected to take his physical on Wednesday. Once he passes his exam, his two-year, $10.75 million deal with the Nats will become official. McLouth is expected to play behind Jayson Werth, Denard Span and Bryce Harper.
Williams hopes Davey will come to Spring Training
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Former Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he didn't plan to attend Spring Training next year because he didn't want to become a distraction to new manager Matt Williams, but the skipper would like Johnson in camp to talk baseball in his office.
Johnson retired as manager of the team after the 2013 season and is now a consultant in the baseball operations department. He did not attend the Winter Meetings.
"[Johnson] is extremely respectful of me and the staff and doesn't want to step on anybody's toes," Williams said. "So hopefully he will call and let us know he's coming. We'll have a big cake. Again, he wished me good luck, and I asked him to be present and he's still in an advisory role with the team. I asked him to come into the office and sit down and talk baseball. And I'd love to pick his brain. Hopefully he accepts that and we can do that."
Nats trio expected to be ready for Spring Training
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg, Adam LaRoche and Bryce Harper are expected to be 100 percent by Spring Training, according to manager Matt Williams.
Strasburg underwent successful arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow, while LaRoche underwent successful surgery to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. Harper underwent successful surgery to repair the bursa in his left knee. Harper hurt the knee on May 13, when he slammed into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium.
"Yeah, [Strasburg's] rehab is going phenomenal," Williams said. "Everything checks out from a medical standpoint. He is ready to go -- Day 1 in Spring Training -- full bore. Bryce will be the same. I talked with Adam before he left for the USO tour. He's been in the woods pulling back his bow, so his elbow is in good shape.
"Everybody will be good. The good thing about the offseason surgeries this year is they were cleanup surgeries, they weren't major surgeries. So it's stuff that is easily rehabbed, and they should be ready."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.