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VIERA, Fla. -- Mike Rizzo held court with reporters earlier this afternoon, sort of a "State of the Franchise" thing as camp opens. The second-year GM touched on all kinds of subjects, but here's a sampling of the most-significant things he said...
-- Though he stressed that he's never done looking for more help, especially on the pitching front, Rizzo did say he's "comfortable going into the season with the depth of the starting pitching we have." He made a point of mentioning three young pitchers returning from injuries (Matt Chico, Craig Stammen and Scott Olsen) as positive signs toward the overall improvement of the club's starting staff.
-- Sounds like you can scratch any serious talk of Ian Desmond becoming a super-utility guy. Rizzo said it's possible the 24-year-old will get a little bit of time at some other positions this spring, but his focus will be on shortstop. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Desmond either will open the year as the starting shortstop in Washington or in Syracuse. No backup role. "We're going to see where Cristian Guzman is in his health and his rehabilitation," Rizzo said. "It's going to bring great competition at the shortstop position. We're going to see where that leads us. I will say, Ian Desmond's going to play somewhere every day this season after spring training."
-- Though Stephen Strasburg will be considered for the Opening Day rotation, it sure sounds like he'll start the season in the minors. As for what Rizzo and Co. will be looking for out of Strasburg -- who throws his first bullpen session tomorrow -- it's more than just performance on the mound. "It's three-fold," Rizzo said. "It's physically, mentally and emotionally. You have to be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to pitch in the major leagues to face the grind of Major League Baseball, the everyday-ness of it. You certainly have to prepare to pitch against the best players in the world on a consistent basis."
-- There figures to be plenty of competition on the relief side of the pitching staff this spring. Rizzo said he sees three spots up for grabs among seven guys. My best guess is Matt Capps, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett and Tyler Walker are assured of jobs. The seven guys competing for the three open slots: Jason Bergmann, Tyler Clippard, Eddie Guardado, Ron Villone, Drew Storen, Ryan Speier and Miguel Batista (who could also wind up in the rotation). "I love having competition in spring training, because it brings out the best in these professionals," Rizzo said.
-- Though he wouldn't get into any specifics about talks with Adam Dunn, Rizzo made it pretty clear he wants to sign the big slugger to an extension. "It's important to me, because he's one of my favorite players on the team," Rizzo said. "I love the guy. There's not many 40-home run, 100-RBI guys running around out there. He fits in with this club. He's a very unique leader. He leads in a very quirky way, but leads nonetheless. He's always open to helping the younger players. We look at it this way: Several years down the road, if he continues at the pace he's at, we're going to be talking about Hall-of-Famer Adam Dunn."
-- There's no hard feelings on Rizzo's part toward the two players who just went through the difficult arbitration process: Bruney and Burnett. "It's a part of the game, it's the business part of the game," Rizzo said. "There's not two guys I like better on this team than Sean Burnett and Brian Bruney. I've known Brian since he was 18 years old. Nobody knows him better than I do. I love the guy. He's a talented performer for us. Both of those guys are going to be huge, not only in 2010, but I see them both as long-term pieces. We put that behind us, as I told them after the arbitration hearings. We put those things behind us and we move on and now it's baseball. All facets are happy that the arbitration process is behind us and baseball begins. They're big boys, they're professionals and they're going to put it behind them and perform admirably for us."