2/19/2014 7:05 P.M. ET
Werth believes Nationals grew in final month of 2013
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth arrived in camp Wednesday and said he likes his team's chances of going to the postseason this year. Werth believes there are a lot of positives the Nationals can take from last year.
For example, the Nationals ended the season on a positive note by going 18-9 during final month of the season.
"We learned how to win at the end of the year, which I don't think the team really knew how to do at the [end of 2012]," Werth said. "We came off a year where we won 98 games, but we were not pressed. Last year, we got to the point where we were pressed and we responded really well. We played awesome the few weeks of the season."
When Werth arrived in 2011, the Nationals were still trying to put together a solid team. They were coming off a fifth-place finish in the NL East. Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond were not established, and Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister were not on the team. Three years later, the team is now considered a playoff contender.
"I would say this is to be the year that everybody kind of graduates," Werth said. "Everybody has some time underneath their belt. Everybody in here knows where they are at. As you go on in this game and you start to figure yourself out -- the whole dynamic of what's going on -- you can settle in and be yourself."
Desmond declines to discuss report about contract
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond declined to talk about a report that said he turned down an extension worth $90 million. Desmond was surprised when he saw the report in the Washington Post.
Desmond signed a two-year, $17.5 million contract before Spring Training, avoiding arbitration for the next two years.
"I haven't really talked about contracts," Desmond said. "I'll tell you that the Nationals and I had been in conversation prior to the two-year deal, but things didn't work out. I don't know how this got out. It's not something that came from my side. We don't operate like that.
"My job is to come here, stay focused, keep the focus in this locker room and try to win. I feel better than I did last year. I feel like I can really help this team this season. I've grown in a lot of different areas. I feel real strongly about my future with the Nationals. I would like to play here for the rest of my career."
Desmond and the Nationals have been talking about a contract extension dating back to the summer of 2012. Desmond said then that he didn't want to talk about an extension because he wanted to concentrate on winning the National League East title.
Since 2012, the two parties haven't able to agree on a long-term deal. Asked why he recently signed a two-year deal, Desmond said: "Initially, I was a little bit hesitant to do it, but in turn, I have a wife and kids. Guaranteed money is guaranteed money. I think it was a good, fair deal for both sides. I took a deal that benefited my family and it didn't affect future infielders in the arbitration process. To have the security was something I couldn't pass up."
• Manager Matt Willaims announced everybody in camp passed their physicals and will be ready to work out Thursday. As a first-year manager, Williams will not have any distractions as camp begins.
"Yeah, it's important to have everybody here and participating. Again, everybody was on time and everybody's ready to go," Williams said. "And that's good. Step out on the right foot and try to accomplish everything we need to accomplish."
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.