Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jason Marquis will start the fourth game of the exhibition season.
The purpose of those meetings: To take suggestions from those players about clubhouse guidelines Riggleman wants to have in place for the upcoming season. The manager said he'll have a few hard-and-fast rules that are "non-negotiable," but he doesn't want to be the one determining everything for a group of 25 men significantly younger than him.
"I want their input on it," Riggleman said. "It's their clubhouse."
Every team is required by MLB to submit some clubhouse standards to league headquarters, so this isn't necessarily something new the Nationals are doing. But there have already been a few occasions this spring in which you've gotten the sense there is a slightly changed dynamic in the Nats clubhouse, a more professional tone that's coming more from the players than the staff.
Riggleman wants his veteran leaders to handle things from within a bit more than has been the case in the past. If one player isn't giving complete effort, another should be comfortable enough to let that teammate know it won't be accepted and not simply rely on the manager or a coach to do it.
Riggleman isn't real keen on the idea of designating an official team captain. He prefers to spread those kind of responsibilities out among several players, and it's interesting to note that it's not only veterans he sees as key members of this process. Desmond only has one full season in the majors, but the young shortstop is already viewed by club officials as something of a clubhouse leader.
In other news this Wednesday morning...
-- The starting rotation for the first four games of the exhibition season is set. Chad Gaudin starts Monday's opener against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, followed by Livan Hernandez Tuesday against the Mets here in Viera. John Lannan will start the third game next Wednesday against the Marlins in Viera, with Jason Marquis starting the following day against the Cardinals in Jupiter.
-- Though Riggleman has been impressed with the progress he's seen Chien-Ming Wang make in bullpen sessions, the manager isn't sure yet when Wang will be ready to pitch in exhibition games. The club still needs to see more of the rehabbing right-hander before making that determination.
-- Because of two off-days in the regular season's first five days, the club likely won't need it's No. 5 starter until Saturday, April 9 (the eighth game of the season). That could open up another roster spot for a bench player or extra reliever for the season's first week.