Updated: Joe Blanton signs with Nats; Washington Nationals Grapefruit League Home Opener Game #4

The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches debuts their main field today for the home opening game just a scant 15 months after the groundbreaking ceremonies. The frenetic pace to get this complex open has been a dash to the finish line with only minor work left to complete which will continue for several more weeks. The two teams that occupy the complex, the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals, face-off in a game that will be attended by both team’s ownership groups as well as Palm Beach County dignitaries and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

According to the the Palm Beach Post, “the National Anthem will be sung by Jessica Fishenfeld, a soprano with the Palm Beach Opera. Derrek Stark, a tenor with the opera, will sing God Bless America during the 7th-inning stretch”. There will also be a flyover by the U.S. Coast Guard before the first pitch.

Game time is 1:05PM today and will be televised on MASN1 with radio coverage on WJFK 1580 AM. The Nationals starter will be Jeremy Guthrie while the Astros will start Mike Fiers.  For those who are fortunate enough to attend this game in person, parking lots open at 9 AM and will cost $10 per car with valet parking at $20.

The Nationals have completed only three games so far, and all projected positional starters have appeared in games except Matt WietersJayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. Don’t expect to see Werth and Zimmerman in scheduled games today or tomorrow.

“I don’t know when [Werth and Zimmerman] will play in a game,” Dusty Baker said.

What we do know is that Dusty Baker is tinkering with line-ups. Dusty wants Trea Turner in the lead-off, but he does not know where he wants to bat Adam Eaton. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post has the story on the line-ups.

“I’ll let everybody know what my lineup’s going to be when the time comes,” Dusty Baker said. “You don’t want to be just good at the top of the line-up. You want balance throughout the lineup, so that’s what I’m trying to achieve.”

Trea Turner got his first hit of this 2017 spring training, and it was a home run. Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton, and Adam Lind are all seeking their first hits of the spring. We also hope to see Matt Wieters make his spring debut.

In the meantime, Mike Rizzo continues to work the phones to trade a catcher. This could happen very soon. Our sources tell us that Rizzo does not want to force a trade as the deal has to work.

There are a few players who have stood out early in camp like Andrew Stevenson and Erick Fedde. Dusty Baker added Brandon Snyder as a player who has also impressed early. Snyder is a D.C. local who graduated from Westfield’s High School near Dulles Airport, and was a 1st round draft choice by Baltimore in 2005.

Today’s line-up is:

1. Trea Turner SS
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. Jayson Werth DH
5. Stephen Drew 3B
6. Derek Norris C
7. Adam Eaton CF
8. Clint Robinson 1B
9. Adam Lind LF

Jeremy Guthrie RHP

Adam Lind makes his debut in leftfield today, and Jayson Werth makes his first Grapefruit appearance as the designated hitter. So much for Dusty’s comment that we won’t see Jayson Werth play until at least Wednesday.

BREAKING: With perhaps the biggest surprise this week, the Nationals have signed Joe Blanton to a one-year deal subject to his physical which would require another 40-man move by Mike Rizzo.

Mike Rizzo has now checked off four of the five off-season goals with the signing of Joe Blanton. Mike Rizzo needed to shore up the middle of his bullpen and Blanton meets that need. Rizzo needed to sign a capable lefty bat who could play 1B/LF which he did with Adam Lind. Rizzo needed to acquire a high OBP CF who can play ‘plus’ defense which Mike Rizzo did in the Adam Eaton trade. Rizzo needed to get a replacement for the departing catcher, Wilson Ramos, which Mike Rizzo did in acquiring Derek Norris and signing Matt Wieters. In addition, Mike Rizzo re-signed Stephen Drew and Chris Heisey and additional bullpen arms in Enny Romero and Jimmy Cordero.

The only bucket Mike Rizzo wasn’t able to fill was acquiring a proven closer in Mark Melancon or Kenley Janson, but Rizzo could still make this work with a trade for David Robertson. Stay tuned.

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