MLB Washington Nationals

5 Washington Nationals Players To Watch This Spring

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Five Nats to Watch this Spring

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

After a down year in 2013, the Washington Nationals knew they needed to make some changes. They did not have a solid lefty reliever they could rely on in tight spots, and it showed in 2013. Their bench took a major step back as well in 2013 after being a major factor in keeping Washington afloat in 2012 when they suffered key injuries. In 2013, the injuries where considerably worse and even more pivotal to Washington's success. The youth of the Nationals' bench definitely came back to bite them as the team benefited from players like Tyler Moore coming up after consistent at-bats in the minors and continuing success they laid the groundwork for in the minors.

This winter has been one of much change for the Nationals as there will be just as many new faces this spring as there will be familiar ones. Their new manager, Matt Williams, is chomping at the bit to get started and had every aspect of Spring Training mapped out as far back as the Winter Meetings. They could have as many as three lefties coming out of their bullpen in 2014 with the acquisition of Jerry Blevins, the incumbency of Xavier Cedeno and the possibility of Sammy Solis making the team out of Spring Training as a reliever. The Washington bench could look awfully different as well with the subtractions of Steve Lombardozzi and Chad Tracy. With all the new faces fans will be seeing this spring, here are five players to watch in Spring Training this year.

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5. Danny Espinosa: Second Base

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Espinosa has said there has been no talk between him and GM Mike Rizzo about a utility infielder's job. Espinosa has also alluded to the fact that if he had known his wrist was broken from the moment he was hit by the pitch he would not have played. He also believes he can win his job back from Anthony Rendon. If the wrist injury was the only problem, this would inspire confidence. Unfortunately, Espinosa has a bad shoulder as well and could see himself injured again, and sadly that may be in his best interest.

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4. Zach Walters: Shortstop/Infield

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Walters had a strong offensive year in Triple-A in 2013, mashing 29 home runs. Though there will be a lot of infield competition, Walters' power potential could see him pushed to the forefront, especially if Anthony Rendon and Espinosa have poor springs.

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3. Xavier Cedeno: Lefty Reliever

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cedeno's 2013 was a tale of two jerseys as Cedeno had an 11.37 ERA with the Houston Astros but a 1.50 ERA when he arrived in Washington. With very little left-handed competition this spring, Cedeno could see himself break camp with the Nationals rather than be on the Triple-A to Washington shuttle like he was a few times in 2013.

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2. Brian Goodwin: Center Field

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Goodwin has been tagged as Washington's center fielder of the future, and many see him as the Nationals' everyday center fielder as early as 2015. However, they do own an option worth $9 million on center field incumbentDenard Span. If Goodwin has a strong spring, we could see Span dealt at some point and the job handed over to Goodwin considering how much money Washington would save with this move and how they have some big extensions coming.

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1. Ross Detwiler: Lefty Starter

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Detwiler was Washington's best playoff pitcher in 2012, but his 2013 was derailed by a slow start and back surgery. With the emergence of Washington's young pitching depth, which many considered to be depleted, Detwiler could see himself back in the bullpen or even on his way to another team. Regardless, Detwiler needs a strong spring to silence his critics.