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Taught to trot: Nats hold walk-off practice

Taylor recovered from side tightness; Fedde tosses 3 frames vs. Astros
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The only thing manager Dave Martinez told his position players was that it was the bottom of the ninth inning and you just hit a walk-off. He left the rest up to them.

Martinez laughed as one by one the Nationals started doing their best home run celebrations during Saturday morning's workout. There were quite a few fake bat flips. A few players hopped down the first-base line a la Sammy Sosa. Bryce Harper pointed to the outfield and mimicked a bat flip. Wilmer Difo spun around as he rounded third base. Howie Kendrick yelled as he rounded the bases.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The only thing manager Dave Martinez told his position players was that it was the bottom of the ninth inning and you just hit a walk-off. He left the rest up to them.

Martinez laughed as one by one the Nationals started doing their best home run celebrations during Saturday morning's workout. There were quite a few fake bat flips. A few players hopped down the first-base line a la Sammy Sosa. Bryce Harper pointed to the outfield and mimicked a bat flip. Wilmer Difo spun around as he rounded third base. Howie Kendrick yelled as he rounded the bases.

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"They all ran around the bases as if it was a home run," Martinez said with a laugh. "I would've walked to first base. Got a base hit, game over."

Saturday was the latest example of the laid-back style Martinez has brought to Nationals camp this spring. He wanted the players to practice their celebrations after a walk-off hit because it is something he expects they will have to do during the season.

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"Because we want to win," Martinez said. "I want them to feel like every day we come out to compete and win. I tell them just like everything else, we work really hard, but I also want them to have fun."

In addition to the walk-off practice, the Nationals also held a relay race. Six teams of four competed to see who could throw the ball down and back first, like an outfield relay. There were a lot of yells and cheers during the competition, which was ultimately won by the team of Harper, Anthony Rendon, Matt Reynolds and bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo.

Tweet from @JamalCollier: I���m not entirely sure any of the rules, but the Nats are having team relay races right now. They seem excited. pic.twitter.com/LXNK4V4Kd7

"Get them to compete a little bit and have fun," Martinez said. "It was awesome, I got a little jacked up at the end."

Taylor feels 100 percent
Nationals center fielder Michael A. Taylor says he feels 100 percent after missing the past few days with some tightness in his right side. He was a full participant in the club's workout on Saturday, including hitting on the field.

Video: WSH@NYM: Taylor steals third, scores on errant throw

Even though he missed about a month last season with a right oblique injury, Taylor did not worry he had initially re-aggravated that injury because it felt completely different. The Nats only held him out of the lineup as a precaution.

"So I wasn't worried, just some tightness, but they wanted to take it easy this early in the season," Taylor said.

Fedde makes second Grapefruit League start
Even though it was only Spring Training, Erick Fedde -- the Nats' top pitching prospect as rated by MLB Pipeline -- still relished facing a lineup full of Astros starters in Saturday afternoon's 2-2 tie.

"I find it to be exciting, it's a fun test," Fedde said. "It's fun to compete against the best."

Video: Top Prospects: Erick Fedde, RHP, Nationals

Fedde lasted three innings and gave up a run on two hits and a pair of walks with three strikeouts.

Worth noting
• Right-hander Wander Suero is day to day after exiting Thursday's game with tightness on his left side. Martinez said Suero and Taylor's injuries were not considered oblique injuries, but just some soreness developing from playing.

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"I think it's just side," he said. "That's kind of what I'm hearing, it has nothing to do with oblique or anything, it's just side tightness."

• The Nationals sent infielder Adrian Sanchez home Saturday morning after he came down with a stomach virus.

Up next
Tanner Roark takes the mound when the Nationals host the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Several Nationals regulars are expected to play in their second consecutive game including Trea Turner, Harper and Rendon. Watch live on MLB.TV.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

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