Notes: Fick seeks first-base job
With Johnson out, versatile veteran aims to earn starting role
VIERA, Fla. -- Since Spring Training began, the Nationals have considered Robert Fick as a reserve who can work behind the plate and play first base and the outfield. But Fick's goal is to become the team's starting first baseman on Opening Day, now that Nick Johnson will be sidelined for the start of the season because of a broken right leg.
The Nationals have announced that rookie Larry Broadway would get the first crack to be the starter, with Travis Lee and Dmitri Young getting a chance if Broadway falters.
The last time Fick was a regular first baseman was in 2003, when he was with the Braves. That year, he drove in a career-high 80 runs. Fick believes that he would put up even better numbers in 2007 if given the chance by the Nats.
"I would like to win the job," Fick said. "It's pretty much all I have been thinking about all winter. I kept in contact with Nick and he was telling me that things were not going good for him. God bless him. He is one of my favorite guys on the team.
"I know my role on this team. If they need me to play in spurts, I'll play in spurts. Whatever they need me to do, I will just keep working hard and keep my mouth shut."
Injury report: Lee is not expected to play in a game until sometime next week because of a right oblique strain, but he said he was feeling better. On Friday, Lee hit off a tee and took infield practice.
Lee believes he got hurt by overworking himself earlier this week. In the morning, he would take batting practice in the cage, then take more swings during workouts, followed by hitting off a tee after workouts.
"We are taking our time with it, because if it gets any worse, then I would be done," Lee said.
FYI: The Minor Leaguers who participated in the Nationals' accelerated camp will play their first game on Monday. Chris Marrero, Stephen King and Ian Desmond are among those who will play. ... Second baseman Ronnie Belliard and shortstop Cristian Guzman will not make the trip to Vero Beach on Friday. They will work out at Space Coast Stadium. Manager Manny Acta said he didn't want the two players watching and sitting on the bench the entire game. ... Acta wanted to use the designated hitter for the first 10 games of the spring so he could get at-bats for Guzman and outfielder Alex Escobar. Every opponent agreed to help the Nationals except the Braves. So Washington's pitchers will bat on Monday and Tuesday against Atlanta.
On the radio: The Nationals announced the radio broadcast schedule for Spring Training. Ten preseason games will be heard on the club's flagship station, WTWP. Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler will return as announcers for all 162 regular-season games.
New to the broadcast is "Geico Nationals Insider," a 30-minute magazine show hosted by Byron Kerr. Additionally, Slowes and Jageler will host a call-in show after most Nationals games.
The new look: Mike Shapiro, the Nationals' senior vice president of business affairs, said the renovations at Space Coast Stadium will be completed before the first home exhibition game against the Orioles on Saturday.
"There is very few things left to be done at this point," Shapiro said. "It's essentially cleanup."
Driving on Stadium Parkway, it's apparent that there have been significant changes to Space Coast Stadium. Gone is the Marlins' teal, and the stadium's exterior is now red, white and blue. There are red flags around the complex to indicate to fans that they are approaching the Nationals' second home.
Even the teal seats inside the stadium are gone. Fans are expected to sit in red and blue seats.
Be a part of the mailbag: The Nationals mailbag runs every Monday. Send in your questions now.
Coming up: The Nationals play their first exhibition game under Acta on Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Dodgers in Vero Beach. Right-hander Shawn Hill takes the mound for the Nationals, while Jason Schmidt goes for Los Angeles.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.