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Would you believe spring training is already 40 percent complete? That’s right, the Nationals have made it through the first 16 days of a 40-day camp. Time flies when you’re having fun, huh? (Or when there’s actually baseball being played.)

That’s not to suggest the Nats are anywhere close to being ready for opening night, though. They’ve still got a lot to figure out Washington Nationals Jerseys China over the next 24 days. Truth be told, they’ve barely answered any of the most pressing questions they faced when they arrived in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Is Carter Kieboom ready to start at third base every day? Too soon to say. Is Joe Ross the No. 5 starter? He hasn’t pitched in a game yet. Is Stephen Strasburg back to 100 percent health? Let’s see him actually face another team before drawing any conclusions. Are Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber and Victor Robles going to bounce back from bad 2020 seasons? They look good so far, but it’s too early to say with certainty.

So the upcoming exercise – projecting the opening night roster – may feel a bit premature. But it also feels worth attempting, because there is plenty we do know for sure already.

Here, then, is a look at which 26 men might be in line to come north with the club at the end of the month …

ROTATION (5): Max Scherzer, Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester, Ross
Though this is still the safest projection of the opening night rotation, those two last two spots are hardly guaranteed at the moment. Lester figured to be a lock all along, but that was before he reported fatigue and subsequent tests determined he needed to have his thyroid gland removed. That surgery took place Friday in New York. We’ll hopefully know more about his prognosis today, and hopefully everything is fine. That said, it wouldn’t be a shock if Lester (even if healthy) needs a little extra time to be ready to begin the season. Ross, meanwhile, remains the frontrunner for the No. 5 job, but he needs to actually pitch and prove he deserves it. He’ll get his first chance Monday against the Mets. As always, Erick Fedde and Austin Voth are waiting in the wings if they’re needed, though neither has pitched particularly well so far this spring.

Thumbnail image for Suero-in-Rain-Red-sidebar.jpgBULLPEN (8): Brad Hand, Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey, Will Harris, Jeremy Jeffress, Wander Suero, Kyle Finnegan, Voth or Fedde
Though this is the most likely octet to open the season in the Nationals bullpen, not everyone in the group is safe. Rainey is currently dealing with a slight muscle strain near his right collarbone, so that could set him back a little bit. Jeffress, who signed a minor league deal after camp opened, is still building his arm up to pitch in a game. Finnegan has pitched in two games and has given up a home run in each. He’s got options, so he’s not a lock to make the team. We’ve been assuming all along the runner-up for the fifth starter’s job will remain as a long reliever, but it doesn’t necessarily have to work out that way. The Nats could decide they’d rather keep a more experienced and versatile reliever like Javy Guerra or Ryne Harper; a second lefty like Sam Clay, Luis Avilán or T.J. McFarland; or a young right-hander who has a good spring like Kyle McGowin or Dakota Bacus.

CATCHERS (2): Yan Gomes, Alex Avila
Something unexpected would need to happen for these two not to head north as the club’s catching duo. Both veterans are healthy. Both are working with all of the pitchers in the mix for jobs. But if something did happen, Welington Castillo or perhaps Blake Swihart is ready to step in. And younger catchers Tres Barrera and Raudy Read also could be called upon in a pinch.

INFIELDERS (6): Bell, Starlin Castro, Trea Turner, Kieboom, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Harrison
All six of these guys are making the team if healthy. That includes Kieboom, if for no other reason than the fact there is no other realistically viable everyday third baseman in camp. Bell and Zimmerman have looked especially good at the plate so far, going a combined 7-for-10 with three doubles, three homers, six RBIs, three walks and only one strikeout. Harrison can play just about anywhere, including the corner outfield spots.

OUTFIELDERS (4): Juan Soto, Robles, Schwarber, Andrew Stevenson
It’s been an encouraging start to the spring for Robles, who has slimmed down, looks better in the field and looks pretty good as a leadoff hitter. Schwarber is looking more comfortable in his new (actually old) batting stance. Soto doesn’t need to worry about anything other than staying healthy. Stevenson has taken a team-high 12 plate appearances, and though he has only one hit, he’s all but penciled in as the fourth outfielder.

If you’ve added all that up, you realize only 25 players are listed so far. There’s one more spot that needs to be filled, and this is where it gets tricky.

The Nationals could decide to use it on another bench player, but would that be another infielder like Jordy Mercer or Adrián Sanchez; another outfielder like Gerardo Parra, Yadiel Hernández or Yasmany Tomás; or a utility man who can play anywhere like Hernán Pérez?

Or they could decide to keep a ninth reliever, which brings anyone from the aforementioned group of Guerra, Harper, Clay, Avilan, McFarland, McGowin and Bacus back into play.

That’s probably the last decision they’ll have to make at the end of camp. Hopefully by then, the situation will have sorted itself out and someone will have become the obvious choice.

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The Nationals made their first cuts of the spring this week, informing 19 players that they’re no longer in contention for the Opening Day roster. Most of the players that got the ax weren’t expected to begin the season in the majors, but the series of roster moves did provide some clarity as to who’s being considered Nike Washington Nationals Jerseys for the 26th spot on the active roster should it go to a position player.

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The most familiar name to Nationals fans is Gerardo Parra, the veteran outfielder who joined the team midway through the 2019 season and helped bring the clubhouse together in order to overcome a 19-31 start, largely with the walk-up song “Baby Shark.”

Parra spent the 2020 season in Japan before signing a minor-league deal with the Nationals over the offseason. He underwent knee surgery that sidelined him until Monday, when he made his Grapefruit League debut against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“He looked good,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said on a Zoom call after the game. “He ran well. Ran down some balls in the outfield. Cut a ball off and got it in quickly. He’s getting there. He looks good. Got a base hit. Hit the first ball pretty hard up the middle, but he looks good.”

Despite Parra’s endearment to the fanbase, he will have to beat out Jordy Mercer, Yasmany Tomás, Yadiel Hernández, Adrián Sanchez and Hernán Pérez. Mercer has the most experience of the group outside Parra, having played 904 career games across nine seasons — most of which were in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.

Of those 904 games, Mercer has played shortstop in 837 of them. That could be a key factor in his case for a roster spot as the Nationals don’t currently have a backup shortstop slated to make the team behind Trea Turner. Young infielders Luis García and Yasel Antuna are the only other players on the 40-man roster capable of handling the position, but the Nationals are expected to start them in the minors to get them everyday at-bats.

“He’s just one of those steady guys,” Martinez said of Mercer on Monday. “He’s got great hands, can play multiple positions in the infield…good instincts, he’s a professional. He’s been doing this for a lot of years, he knows the situation, he knows his role. So having him out there is just another guy that you can depend on to get the job done.”

The other four spots on the Nationals’ bench will likely be filled by Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Harrison, Andrew Stevenson and Alex Avila.

Washington has just over two weeks before Opening Day to decide how it will fill that final spot, if at all.

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For the second consecutive year, at least for the time being, the Toronto Blue Jays will be playing south of the border, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith.

Toronto will begin the 2021 season in Dunedin, Florida, home of the Blue Jays’ Class-A affiliate Dunedin Blue Jays. Dunedin has served as Toronto’s spring training home since the franchise’s inaugural 1977 season.

Davidi and Nicholson-Smith report that an official announcement from the Blue Jays is expected Thursday.

Toronto will play home games in Dunedin through May 2, which spans a series with the Washington Nationals. From there onwards, the Blue Jays will continue to evaluate their options with more information through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, the Blue Jays were in a similar situation when the Canadian government rejected a proposal in July for the team to host games in Toronto. The club eventually found an alternative, playing its home games out of Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, host to the team’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons.

It’s shaping up to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent Blue Jays memory after the team acquired 2017 World Series MVP George Springer and infielder Marcus Semien, adding to an already strong young core that includes Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. Fans online will get their first look at this year’s Blue Jays when the club holds its first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Thursday.