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Blanton officially signs, arrives at camp

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Joe Blanton came into free agency this offseason with two priorities: the chance to win a World Series and ideally to play somewhere close to his new home in Napa Valley, Calif. The Nationals could not fill both of those priorities, but winning mattered more, and as Blanton lingered on the free-agent market past the beginning of Spring Training, he is glad to finally have a home.

The Nats officially signed Blanton on Thursday after keeping the veteran reliever on their radar the entire offseason during their quest to improve their bullpen. Washington designated catcher Spencer Kieboom for assignment to make room for Blanton on the 40-man roster.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Joe Blanton came into free agency this offseason with two priorities: the chance to win a World Series and ideally to play somewhere close to his new home in Napa Valley, Calif. The Nationals could not fill both of those priorities, but winning mattered more, and as Blanton lingered on the free-agent market past the beginning of Spring Training, he is glad to finally have a home.

The Nats officially signed Blanton on Thursday after keeping the veteran reliever on their radar the entire offseason during their quest to improve their bullpen. Washington designated catcher Spencer Kieboom for assignment to make room for Blanton on the 40-man roster.

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"You start wondering kind of like, 'What's going on?' It's the reality of free agency," Blanton said. "I was fortunate enough that [the Nats] were kind of in play the whole winter. There was some dialogue there the whole time. I guess as it progressed a little later, it got more and here we are."

Blanton, 36, arrived at Nationals camp and immediately got to work, throwing a bullpen session, which he said lasted about 50 pitches. Manager Dusty Baker was not sure how quickly Blanton would be ready to pitch in games, but he raved about what good shape he was in upon arrival, which Blanton credited to throwing and working out at Napa Valley Junior College through the winter.

Video: MLB Tonight: Nats, Blanton reach one-year deal

"I don't like using the word 'behind,' because I don't feel like I'm behind," Blanton said. "I'm only behind because I haven't been here. ... Arm strength was pretty good. I threw all my pitches. Quality of stuff was great. So it's just a matter of getting a body in there, facing hitters and getting used to counts and that adrenaline. So as far as that, I don't feel real far behind where my stuff is from a normal March."

The Nationals like Blanton's versatility and the fact that they could use him in multiple roles to help fortify their bullpen late in games. He is a former starter and is comfortable pitching multiple innings during an outing, and was a vital piece of the Dodgers' bullpen last season.

"We feel he's going to give us quality innings," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He's a guy who can give us a quality inning at the end of the game. He can give us multiple innings when needed. And [he's] a guy that Dusty can do a lot of different things with.

"He can go back-to-back-to-back. He knows himself. He knows his body. He's really gotten to know this role as a reliever. And he's been used in a variety of ways the last couple years with his teams in a bunch of different ways."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Joe Blanton