Heading into the finaldays before spring training, theNationals still have room fora left-handed bat off the bench and a potentially a platoon option in center field. Last season, Rick Ankiel filled both of those roles.For now, the 32-year-old outfielder remains a free agent, though onebaseball insidersuggested the Mets, also thought to be looking for left-handed pop off the bench, are keeping a close eye on Ankiel's movements. Local thought seems to bethe Nationals would put Ankiel back on the payroll as a fourth outfielder or as part of a center field combo with Mike Cameron. That is if the price is right, something inthe one-year, 1 million range for the pitcher-turned-outfielder who last season in 380 at-bats hit .239 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs.
However, the role likelywould be as a mere placeholder until Bryce Harper is called up from the minors and Jayson Werth shiftsone spot over. Ankiel is likely searching for a situation where he will play regularly if not start. Barring an injury or Harper's getting abducted by aliens, that situation is not in D.C.Speaking of thosewho have roamed the outfield for the Nationals, Austin Kearns signed a minor league contract with the Marlins. The oft-injured Kearns played in only 57 games for the Indians last season.