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Howell interested in playing for Nationals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals are looking for a second left-handed reliever to join Zach Duke -- who was re-signed on the first day of the Winter Meetings -- and free-agent southpaw J.P. Howell has expressed an interest in playing in the nation's capital.

Howell, 29, had a nice comeback season for the Rays in 2012, appearing in 55 games and recording a 3.04 ERA and 42 strikeouts. He can serve as a lefty specialist or pitch in the late innings.

Howell's best season came in 2008, when he helped the Rays win the American League pennant.

"I love [the Nationals'] style, and they are absolutely loaded," Howell said via telephone. "They have so much talent. They are championship contenders. ... They are truly a heavyweight. Personally speaking, I would be a great fit. I think the leader on that team, Jayson Werth, is a great guy. I know Davey Johnson from the [World Baseball Classic]. It was a pleasure to be around a guy like that. ... If I could fit on the ride, that would be amazing."

Howell said that the current Nats team reminds him of those 2008 Rays, who won the pennant with players mostly from their farm system.

"In 2008, we relied on team camaraderie," Howell said. "We had talent, and we had great guys that could fill roles. We had leadership in Evan Longoria. I don't know too much yet, but the Nationals look stacked. They picked up Dan Haren [on Tuesday]. He is a championship-type pitcher with the rest of the crew. It's hard to make a team like that better. They seem to have done that today."

Washington Nationals, J.P. Howell