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Mike Rizzo gave another endorsement for Adam LaRoche as his first baseman in 2012.
So consider this your last-minute Christmas gift: "Rizzo Unplugged"...
Q: Are you still pursuing a center fielder?
Rizzo: "We're always looking to improve our ballclub. We feel if the right fit for a center fielder -- a long-term center fielder -- came to us, we would certainly be aggressive and go after it, either via the free agency market or the trade market. We certainly haven't gotten off that. We still feel that's a need for us. We do feel we have in-house candidates for us right now that can fill that position very effectively, being Jayson Werth could move to center field and then we would open up a bigger pool of candidates for a corner outfield position. We feel that position hasn't really changed this offseason so far. Like I said, we're still looking for a long-term, permanent fit for us and we just haven't found that yet. We're still attacking all avenues to try to get one."
Q: What's at the top of your offseason checklist now?
Rizzo: "We'd like to do some subtle things. We'd like to improve our bench, we'd like to improve our depth in the minor leagues to help us if need be on the major-league level. Davey and I are going to put our heads together and see exactly what he needs as far as bench strength to manage his game effectively. I think we're going to be looking at all aspects, and if something big that's acquirable is something that helps our ballclub and fits for us in the long-term, we'll certainly look into something like that. But, like I said, you guys know me. We're always looking. We're always going to be aggressive and try to improve the ballclub even though we think that we're vastly improved over the last year and we still could get better."
Q: How do you view the team at this time?
Rizzo: "I think with the normal maturation of our good, young, core players, I think they're only going to get better. I think hopefully we have a healthier season out of the gate. Hopefully Ryan Zimmerman is there for the full complement of games. Hopefully Adam LaRoche is there and has a typical Adam LaRoche season. We hope Jayson Werth has a typical Jayson Werth season. We feel there will be improvements in Ramos and Desi at short and Espi at second base. We feel we're going to get an uptick in offense just from those players improving and getting to their career norms. I like our rotation. I like our bullpen. I think we're going to play better, smarter, more fundamental baseball. Davey's going to manage this team as good as any manager in baseball. So I feel good, and I feel optimistic about where we're at. We're never satisfied. I always see places of need and improvement. But with that said, we like our ballclub, and our goal is to be playing meaningful games at the end of the season, in September and beyond."
Q: Is Adam LaRoche still your first baseman for 2012?
Rizzo: "That is correct."
One final note: Rizzo was asked for an update on minor-league left-hander Sammy Solis, who experienced some elbow pain at the end of the Arizona Fall League season. The GM said Solis' planned visit to California to be examined by orthopedist Lewis Yocum (the doctor who performed Tommy John surgery on Stephen Strasburg) was been delayed because the pitcher has strep throat. Once Solis has recovered from the illness, he's due to be examined by Yocum.
And with that, Nats Insider headquarters are officially closed until Monday (barring any major breaking news, of course). Happy holidays to everyone!