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Baker faces tough choices regarding pitchers

MLB.com

VIERA, Fla. -- Dusty Baker has only overseen a few days of workouts during the Nationals' Spring Training, yet he is already considering the decisions he will have to make by the end of camp.

"I've had some good teams," Baker said, "but these are the toughest pitching decisions I've ever had to make."

VIERA, Fla. -- Dusty Baker has only overseen a few days of workouts during the Nationals' Spring Training, yet he is already considering the decisions he will have to make by the end of camp.

"I've had some good teams," Baker said, "but these are the toughest pitching decisions I've ever had to make."

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Baker is still learning about his new team, but he spent the first few days raving about the talent he has seen -- and the first full-squad workout is not even until Thursday.

Among the decisions Baker will have to consider is what to do if veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo or top prospect Lucas Giolito turn in a strong spring. The five spots in the rotation -- Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark and Joe Ross -- are seemingly locked in.

Tweet from @Nationals: .@dbaker_12 taking it all in at practice this morning. #NatsSpring #ItAllStartsHere pic.twitter.com/6ZKgNGLR3Y

Most of the roles in Washington's bullpen remain unsettled, and Baker would not reveal any guaranteed roles besides Jonathan Papelbon, the team's closer. Although, Baker did single out one more player with whom he is particularly impressed.

"Boy, that lefty out there throwing 100 mph," he said, referring to Felipe Rivero, "he's got a pretty good chance."

The Nationals have a pair of early off-days during the first week of the season, so Baker might be inclined to carry an extra reliever until the club needs a fifth starter.

Baker joked that he wishes he could open the season with a roster of 30 players.

"Either way, it's going to be a tough decision on who doesn't break with us," Baker said. "It's a pleasant problem."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

 

Washington Nationals