3/7/2014 6:43 P.M. ET
Williams impressed with Harper's success vs. lefties
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Matt Williams is impressed by what he has seen from outfielder Bryce Harper. Not only is Harper healthy, according to Williams, he has been able to handle left-handed pitchers without any problems.
Last year, Harper hit .214 against lefties. It didn't help that he injured his left knee on May 13 against the Dodgers. Harper hurt the knee by slamming into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium. Because of the injury, he played just 118 games in 2013.
"He has faced a few lefties so far this spring and he has done well staying on the baseball. That's good for him right now, especially early," Williams said. "I think he is right on schedule."
In Friday's 8-5 victory over the Astros, Harper went 1-for-3, including a first-inning two-run homer off left-hander Brett Oberholtzer. At first, Harper thought the ball was going to go foul, but the wind blew it over the right-field wall for a home run.
"I hit lefties pretty good. I always have," Harper said. "Last year, my knee killed me. I couldn't stay back on lefties. I was killing myself on that. It's going to be a little bit different this year."
Nats looking into new Spring Training sites
VIERA, Fla. -- The Palm Beach County board of commissioners met with the Nationals and Astros on Thursday about relocating their Spring Training facilities, according to county documents.
The commissioners talked to the two teams about different Florida sites, including locations in Vero Beach -- the former Spring Training home of the Dodgers -- and Port St. Lucie, home of the Mets.
Last month, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reported that the Nationals were in talks with the Astros about sharing a Spring Training facility. The Astros would like to leave Kissimmee after the 2016 season, while the Nationals would like to move their facility closer to other teams in Florida. Washington's lease at Space Coast Stadium expires at the end of '17.
The Nationals have declined to comment on the possibility of moving to another location.
"As a policy, the Washington Nationals do not publicly comment on pending or ongoing business discussions," the team said through a spokesman. "We are in the process of finding the best long-term options for a Spring Training and player-development facility, and public comment would be premature and unfair to that process."
Upbeat Gonzalez reports to Nats camp
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Michael Gonzalez arrived at Space Coast Stadium on Friday morning, and it was like he never left the organization after the 2012 season. There was left-hander Gio Gonzalez giving him a big bear hug. He was chit-chatting with closer Rafael Soriano as if they were best friends.
Gonzalez was part of the 2012 Washington club that won the National League East title. He was a lefty specialist and one of the veteran leaders in the clubhouse. After that season, Gonzalez signed with the Brewers and was 0-3 with a 4.68 ERA over 75 appearances in '13. He didn't sign his Minor League contract with the Nationals until Tuesday.
Why did it take so long to agree to a deal?
"I wanted to feel comfortable about the signing," Gonzalez said. "There were a few teams [located in Arizona during Spring Training] out there. Obviously, this is the team that has the best chance of getting to the World Series. Where I'm at right now, I want a ring. That's what I'm geared toward. The time I had here in Washington was awesome. The energy was great. Guys were awesome. Again, I feel this is the best opportunity to win the World Series."
Although he didn't sign until Tuesday, Gonzalez threw several bullpen sessions before arriving in camp. He will have his physical Friday before throwing another bullpen session on Saturday. After that, he will pitch live batting practice and get in a game soon thereafter.
"He is a guy who comes with a reputation of being [able to get hitters out]," manager Matt Williams said. "He told us he has been throwing. … He will get into the rotation of pitching. If he is out there and available, there is nothing wrong with taking a look. We'll see where he is at right now."
• The Nationals' trainer came out to check on reliever Chris Garcia in the fourth inning on Friday against the Astros. It turns that that Garcia's finger nail slices his thumb every time he throws a changeup. The injury is not considered serious, and Garcia completed the fourth inning.
• Rafael Soriano pitched his first game of the spring on Friday, allowing two runs in one inning against the Astros. Williams said wasn't concerned about the outing.
"He was just pounding the strike zone," Williams said. "For closers, the first outing is about establishing your strike zone. He is fine."
• Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf left Thursday's game against the Braves with back spasms. Williams said there is no structural damage, but there is also no timetable as to when Ohlendorf will return to a game.
• Right-hander Taylor Jordan was scheduled to pitch in Saturday's split-squad game against the Cardinals, but Williams decided that he wanted to see Jordan throw against the Braves at Space Coast Stadium. Right-hander Chris Young will get the start against the Cardinals instead. Bench coach Randy Knorr will manage against St. Louis in Jupiter, Fla.
"I want to be [at Space Coast Stadium] and I want to get a chance to see [Jordan]," Williams said. "I've certainly seen Chris more than Taylor. I want to see him [Jordan] pitch here tomorrow."
• The Nationals are expecting to make their first round of cuts on Sunday morning.
• Instant replay will be available to the Nationals starting March 12 against the Astros. After that, instant replay will be available at Nationals' games five more times this spring.
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.