Nats spring training: Jayson Werth’s beard lives

Bullpen session for Stephen Strasburg. (WTOP/Jonathan Warner)

VIERA, Fla. — Greetings from wet Viera, Fla.

It was the first rainy day of spring training, but the Nationals completed their morning workouts before the afternoon thunder boomers hit the area.

Indoors, I had the chance to sit down with Matt Williams. I first asked him about his managerial makeup. Remember, he played for such skippers as Dusty Baker in San Francisco, Mike Hargrove in Cleveland, plus Buck Showalter and Bob Brenley in Arizona.

Williams says he gets his preparedness from Buck, who he describes as ultimately prepared. He calls Dusty a player’s manager – meaning he was a combination big brother, father and confidant. When the D-Backs won the 2001 World Series, Williams says Brenley let the players police the clubhouse because it was a veteran club.

So, he’s taken a piece of all the managers he’s played for. But, he calls Dusty his mentor since he was his hitting coach first, then manager.

They still keep in touch.

Among the many things we talked about, I found out his favorite baseball movie is “Major League. ” He likes comedies.

We’ll run a lot of the interview on WTOP as the season approaches.

When it comes to the regular season, Williams says he may not have a set lineup game-to-game. He’s still working that process out. However, he’s sure Denard Span will leadoff. Bryce Harper will be all over the top of the lineup, maybe even bat fifth, while Jayson Werth prefers to hit third, but is open to other spots.

Williams did add that while he would like to flip-flop from a lefty to righty to lefty batter throughout the lineup, he still might stack the power guys in the middle. Last season, Davey Johnson tried to go with a lefty-righty-lefty 1-8 but when the team struggled, he mainly abandoned that idea in search of offense.

Williams posts a quote every day on the top of the workout schedule .

Friday it was “it takes a great deal of stamina to pursue success.”

Saturday, it’s “perfection is unattainable, but the pursuit of perfection is imperative.”

Williams says the reason for the daily messages is to give the players something to think about. If they talk about it, even better. He does admit there is some plagiarism when coming up with the quotes.

Three players became new fathers this off-season: Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg. None of them seem stressed out about their new responsibilities. They’re about as low-key as you can get. Strasburg says parenthood puts everything in perspective. And, he’s even changing diapers. Well, once in a while he admits he chips in. Plus, he and his wife are lucky. He says his daughter is sleeping through the night.

As for pitching, Strasburg says his elbow’s been fine ever since he had bone chips removed right after the season. He likes the presence and energy that Matt Williams brings to the club and glad that pitching coach Steve McCatty is back. He says you know what to expect from “Cat.”

And finally, because I’m sure you wanted to know, Jayson Werth’s beard lives.

Did you think it wouldn’t?

However, he admits he trimmed it right before reporting to camp. And now, Adam LaRoche and reliever Ryan Mattheus are sporting healthy growths, giving Werth serious competition for the biggest beard on the team.

Werth says it was usually no contest in the past. Now, he guesses he came in third.

He’s alright with that.

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