WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There was no closer announcement from the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, a day after Washington’s brass was expected to chew over the decision at dinner. Nationals manager Dusty Baker twice rolled his eyes during his media session, once when being asked about the closer, another when being asked about the lineup. He’s reached a point of fatigue when discussing each, particularly the closer.
“Can’t say yet,” Baker said of who will close. “We’re still in the process. We’ll let you know. Wish we didn’t have to answer this question every day. I’ve got to talk to [pitching coach] Mike Maddux. Was looking for him today. We’ll come up with that person.”
That the discussion remains just that, a conversation without conclusion, just six days before the season opens at home against the Miami Marlins, suggests disagreement among the decision-makers is a possibility. Baker generalized when asked if there was “healthy debate” happening when the Nationals talk about who the closer will be.
“There’s always debate, healthy or unhealthy,” Baker said. “That’s what makes the world go-round. Differences of opinion. I welcome differences of opinion.”
If Baker had his way, the Nationals would have signed one of the elite closers on the market during the offseason. Instead, they are wading through spring training trying to decide between young Koda Glover, experienced Shawn Kelley or even Blake Treinen to close. Though, the race appears to be between Glover, who rocketed to the major leagues last season despite starting his year in Single-A Potomac, or Kelley, who has twice had Tommy John Surgery but remains an effective reliever. Baker expects a conclusion before the team heads back to Washington on Thursday night.
“We just have to see who fits the best, that can go three or four days in a row,” Baker said. “Who’s good left-right. What we need — do we need ground balls from certain guys and how other guys slot. [Joe] Blanton has made it easier because we probably have three to four setup men, including Sammy [Solis]. With that in mind, and then now with [Enny] Romero out of options as well, he’s throwing the ball good, that’s another potential guy we can use in late innings. Right now we’re trying to figure out how not to overwork somebody and get to the late innings.”
• Todd Dybas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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