Washington Nationals news & notes: New faces expected to provide leadership in DC

“I got to say I’m definitely old school,” Corey Dickerson told reporters when he spoke on a Zoom call after signing a 1-year/$2.25M with the Washington Nationals earlier this month.

The 33-year-old, 10-year veteran was asked how much he relied on analytics and all of the data available to players these days compared to what they had when he debuted in 2013.

While he is old school, in his own description, he said if there is information he thinks is valuable, he’s not averse to taking it.

“Usually I’m at my best when I just go up there and compete no matter who it is,” he said.

“It’s more about timing and rhythm for me. I will — if anything sticks out like crazy then that might be something I look at a little bit more.”

Over the course of ten seasons in the majors, he’s played for seven different teams (the Nats will be his eighth), so he has seen what different organizations focus on, and provide players in terms of information.

MLB: St.Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals

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“I’ve been on teams that do it all,” Dickerson explained, and he’s learned a lot he can pass on to the younger players he’s joining in DC

“Playing with the [St. Louis] Cardinals last year, a lot of guys watch a lot of film and pick their brain why, so I think I can help a lot of the young guys and stuff like that, that want to dive deeper but not get too deep. Figure out their learning curve, how they like to learn, because you can’t shove a bunch of information, and it messes with your approach, it messes with what you’re looking for, so you got to be really careful with it.

“I’ll be approachable from that standpoint, but I’m definitely more old school mentality of just going out there and competing.”

Jeimer Candelario, 29, signed a 1-year/$5M deal with the Nats earlier this winter, and the seven-year veteran said he’s looking forward to being one of the veterans on the young-ish Nationals’ roster.

He knows the club, as a group, has a lot to learn, coming off a 55-107 season in 2023, but he said he is happy to do what he can to help, while bringing energy to the field daily, while he and his new teammates learn to win together.

“Nobody enjoys a lot of things when you’re losing, but we have to take the best of the day,” he said of his own approach and how he thinks the 2023 Nationals should approach things.

“We have to be able to turn the page, we have to be able to learn how to win ballgames, because that’s what we’re built for.

“In the big leagues we want to win, and you just got to do little things to get us going and help us to win ballgames.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Detroit Tigers

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GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Martinez are counting on the veterans on their roster to provide leadership and guidance while the younger or less established players learn on the job and continue to improve. Candelario said he knows how to set a good example.

“Leadership starts [with] doing the little things the right way, leading by example,” he said.

“Doing the stuff that I’m supposed to do, and we have a lot of young guys, like Davey said, — but me going there to the Nationals, I have to put myself in a good position to help the young guys the right way.

“I have to bring the energy, I have to bring the mindset we’re winning, we’re winning. That’s it [the mindset]. We need to do the right things to win, and that’s what we’re going to do.

“For me, just putting me in that position, I just want to be able to lead by example. You know, treating the guys the right way, and for sure doing my job. You have to do your job.

“If you want to be a leader you have to do your job on the field and off the field.

“So I’m going to put myself in a good position to help the team win, and whatever I have to do to help my teammates, I’m going to do it.”

Dominic Smith, 27, has six years of MLB experience on his résumé.

He took a 1-year/$2M deal from the Nationals, to play first base, and maybe help some of their young guys avoid missteps early in their own careers.

“They want me to come in and play first base, but obviously just share my knowledge of the game, and like I said, help these younger guys kind of skip some of those speed bumps that I had in my career,” Smith said.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Washington Nationals

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While he looks to bounce back in his own career, and reestablish himself after struggling in the past few seasons in New York, Smith knows part of the role in the nation’s capital is helping turn the franchise in the right direction.

“I think that I can come in,” he said, “I get to share my knowledge and just keep developing in my career as well. I’m just excited for the opportunity to keep going out and showcasing my talent, my ability, and what I can do out there.”

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