2/14/2014 6:11 P.M. ET
Injury free, Garcia out to prove himself
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- Last season the Nationals were expecting right-hander Christian Garcia to be one of their better pitchers, but he didn't appear in a single Major League game because of injuries.
First there was the forearm injury he sustained iduring Spring Training. Then there was the shoulder impingement that kept him on the sidelines for two weeks. The worst injury came later in the season, when he injured his left hamstring, an injury that Garcia said took forever to get over.
"It was very shocking. I was disappointed as well," Garcia said. "But injuries happen. It's something I couldn't control. It was like a domino effect. It was one injury after the other. Every time I got close to getting back, I had another setback. What made it frustrating was that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and then it was another setback. It was very disappointing and frustrating."
Garcia is competing for a spot in the bullpen and hopes to make the same impression he did in 2012 as a September callup, striking out 15 in 12 2/3 innings and appearing on the National League Division Series roster against the Cardinals.
"My plans are to do everything I have control over," he said. "I come here, show up every day early, work hard and give myself the best opportunity to make the club. I have zero control over whether I'm in D.C. or whether I'm [at Triple-A] Syracuse. The only thing I have control over is [giving] everything I have."
Lobaton has first workout with Nationals
VIERA, Fla. -- On Friday, one day after the Nationals acquired him from the Rays, catcher Jose Lobaton arrived at Space Coast Stadium and worked out with his new teammates.
Lobaton wasn't surprised by the trade, because he had heard for weeks that the Nationals were interested in his services.
"I knew something would happen. If it was not the Nationals, it could be any other team," Lobaton said. "When I got the call, I told my wife, 'Hey, we are going to Washington.' Now I'm here and will [do] the best for the team."
Lobaton became expendable after Tampa Bay re-signed free-agent catcher Jose Molina and traded for Ryan Hanigan. Lobaton played in 100 games for the Rays last season and hit .249 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. He is best remembered for hitting the game-winning home run against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the American League Division Series this past fall.
Lobaton watched the replay of that homer 20 times.
"When that happens, you have to enjoy it," he said. "It's the best moment of my life. It was a really different feeling."
The Nats see Lobaton as insurance in case starter Wilson Ramos has to go on the disabled list. Ramos missed a significant amount of time last season because of hamstring problems.
The friendship between Lobaton and Ramos dates back to their days playing winter ball together in Venezuela. With Ramos' help, Lobaton doesn't expect to have any problems learning about his new pitching staff.
"We can talk about all those pitchers, the staff, how to handle the team. I feel great to have Wilson here. Hopefully, we can be good partners, be good for the team," Lobaton said.
Clippard reflects on meeting Jeter
VIERA, Fla. -- Reliever Tyler Clippard had mixed emotions after learning that Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will retire after the 2014 season. The two were teammates in 2007.
"I'm happy that he is doing it on his own terms and feels like this is the right time for him," Clippard said. "At the same time, from a fan's perspective, being a part of the game, a teammate and the whole thing, it going to be sad to have baseball without him. It's an end of an era, and I think everyone realizes it. In that sense, it's sad."
Clippard remembers the first time he met Jeter. It was in 2003, at the Yankees' Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla. As Clippard was walking toward Jeter, the two made eye contact, and Jeter said, 'Hey, man, nice to meet you. I'm Derek."
Excited, Clippard replied, "I know."
"He talked to me for 30 seconds, but it seemed like 10 minutes. I was in awe of him," Clippard said. "That's what he does with everyone. It's special. It's something I will never forget. He just kind of leaves his trail behind everywhere he goes. I don't know if he does that on purpose. It's a beautiful thing."
Rivero arrives at Nationals camp
VIERA, Fla. -- Left-hander Felipe Rivero arrived at Space Coast Stadium on Friday, one day after being acquired from the Rays in the Jose Lobaton trade.
Rivero went to Rays camp on Monday and was surprised to learn a few days later that he had been dealt after spending five years in that organization.
"I was shocked. [The Rays] called me into the office and told me that I have been traded," Rivero said. "They told me yesterday, and I was practicing over there. It was pretty hard on me."
There was one consolation, however, with Lobaton part of the trade.
"When I heard that he was traded with me, I was very excited, because I don't know anybody on the team," he said. "I played with him [during Spring Training]. He is one of the guys that I know."
Rivero won a career-high nine games and posted a 3.40 ERA in 25 games (23 starts) last season for Class A Charlotte. He represented the Rays at the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium in 2012 while pitching for Bowling Green, and he earned an All-Star nod from the Midwest League. His fastball can hit 96 mph, and he has a good breaking ball.
The Nationals will watch Rivero pitch in canmp before deciding where he will start the season.
• Clippard is happy that he and the Nationals did not have to attend an arbitration hearing this month, as he signed a one-year, $5.875 million contract earlier this week.
"I'm happy, man. I was glad that it got done. The process, it drug out. It was stressing me out," Clippard said. "I didn't even think I could stress out over stuff, and I was stressing out over it. I'm glad I got it resolved. Both sides, I think, are happy with that. And now we can focus on playing the game. That's all I care about."
• The Nats have agreed to terms with right-hander Josh Roenicke -- who also happens to be Ian Desmond's brother-in-law -- on a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
Roenicke, 32, spent time with the Twins last season, recording a 4.35 ERA in 63 games. He has been in the big leagues since 2008 and has also played with the Reds, Blue Jays and Rockies.
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.