'We're ready': Nats set to begin title quest

New manager, sluggers eyeing deep October run

March 25th, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- After one of the Nationals' Grapefruit League contests ended early last week, manager Dave Martinez had a good feeling from the way the game finished. He walked into his coaches' office and told his staff, "We're ready to go."
"I really feel that, and I'm happy about how things worked out so far in Spring Training," Martinez said. "And I'm looking forward to the season beginning. They're ready. They're biting at the bit."
The Nationals are prepared to begin their quest to win a third consecutive National League East crown. Of course, they have higher aspirations beyond that goal, but the Nats will be the first to say they must win their division before they can dream of more.
So before the regular season begins, here is some key information to keep in mind.
Projected Opening Day lineup
1. , LF
2. , SS
3. , RF
4. , 3B
5. , 1B
6. , 2B
7. Michael A. Taylor, CF
8. Matt Wieters, C
9. Max Scherzer, P

Key roles
will be the closer with and behind him as the setup men.
• A.J. Cole will start the season as the Nationals' fifth starter, but right-hander will build up stamina at the club's complex in West Palm Beach and could be an option if Cole falters.
• With still recovering from knee surgery, and Kendrick are expected to split time at second base. Kendrick is likely to be the primary starter, but the team does not want to wear the veteran out, so Difo will get his share of playing time.

Injury updates
• Murphy will begin the season on the disabled list as he remains in Florida to rehab his right knee after offseason microfracture surgery. The Nationals have not set a timetable for his return, but they were hopeful to get Murphy into games, most likely on the Minor League side, at some point in the coming week.
• Right-hander , a late signing by the Nationals after the start of Spring Training, remains shut down after a right forearm strain.
• The Nationals are going to remain careful with right-hander , who was also shut down after he arrived at camp with right shoulder inflammation.
• Joe Ross will remain at the team's complex in Florida to continue his rehab from Tommy John surgery.