Would the Washington Nationals have won the franchise’s first World Series title in 2012 if ace Stephen Strasburg was not shut down for the season before the playoffs arrived? That is a subject for debate that will remain vibrant in D.C. for decades, and it is a question without a definitive answer. The Nationals captured the National League East title but then fell to St. Louis, 3-2, in the NLDS.
The Nationals expect to contend for another NL East title and a run into late October with a rotation anchored by Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann along with Ross Detwiler and free agent signee Dan Haren.
Though they traded left fielder/first baseman Mike Morse to Seattle, Washington has upgraded their lineup by acquiring center fielder Denard Span from Minnesota. He will be joined by Bryce Harper in left and Jayson Werth in right.
Cornerstone player Ryan Zimmerman (third base), Ian Desmond (shortstop) and David Espinosa will also be part of the 2013 lineup.
With Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard already on the roster, it didn’t seem that the Nationals needed a closer, but they signed free agent Rafael Soriano. if all three arms remain healthy, manager Davey Johnson‘s club will be tough to beat when it has a late-inning lead.
Repeating as NL East champions will not be easy. Atlanta is greatly improved, and Philadelphia will be a contender if its core players avoid the disabled list. If the Nationals do reach the postseason in 2013, one decision is certain. Strasburg will be part of the rotation.
About Space Coast Stadium
Featuring a capacity of 8,100 fans, Space Coast Stadium is the spring training home of the Washington Nationals.
The facility was built in 1993 and is located in Viera, Fla. After spring training ends, Space Coast Stadium houses the Brevard County Manatees, which is the Florida State League affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
As the name implies, Space Coast Stadium is named to recognize NASA’s achievements over the past three plus decades, and the space theme is seen in every corner of the ballpark.
About Viera and the Space Coast Area
Visitors who drive the ocean side road that stretches along the 72 miles (110 km) of Florida’s Space Coast’s untamed beaches quickly realize that this destination is different from any other Florida destination.
Located just 35 miles east (56 km) of Orlando – making it Orlando’s closest beach – the Space Coast is a nature-lover’s paradise; home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; the East Coast surfing capital of the United States; a burgeoning center for the arts and much more!
As the only place in the country where visitors can witness a space shuttle launch, the Space Coast offers once-in-a lifetime experiences for its guests.
Nature enthusiasts can kayak close to wildlife; beach lovers can enjoy endless options throughout the destination; surfers can live the dream of the ideal wave. A vacation along Florida’s Space Coast is adventure filled with active days and relaxing nights. It is a special place that can suit any vacation preference.
Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the center of America’s space program. More than 1.5 million visitors come to the KSC Visitor Complex each year to see everything from the Rocket Garden, which displays NASA’s early space crafts, to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, which houses the rockets and equipment from the Apollo missions to the moon.
At the KSC Visitor Center, there are two IMAX theaters; a life-size replica of a space shuttle that guests can tour and the Shuttle Launch Experience, an attraction designed by astronauts which gives guests the feeling they are actually taking off in a shuttle. Additionally, each day, guests get the rare opportunity to meet veteran astronauts from NASA’s Astronaut Corps.
Canaveral National Seashore is the northernmost beach. As one of the last undeveloped beaches on the East Coast, visitors can experience a unique undisturbed ocean side park.
Port Canaveral is the region’s popular home to Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. One of the busiest ports in the world, it’s the site where guests from all over the world come to embark on 3-, 4- and 7-day voyages to the Bahamas, eastern Caribbean or Mexico’s Gulf resorts.
The port also provides scenic views and great seafood restaurants such as: Rusty’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, Grill’s Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar and the newest offering, Milliken’s Reef. The area’s Snooze & Cruise program offers convenient parking and transportation for cruise passengers staying over at local hotels.
Cocoa Beach is recognized as the East Coast surfing capital of the U.S. The beach’s steady waves, warm weather and world-class surf shops attract all levels of surfers year round. Nine-time world-champion surfer Kelly Slater, who was born and raised in Cocoa Beach, learned his craft on these beaches. It also is home to the famed Ron Jon Surf Shop as well as Cocoa Beach Surf Co., the world’s largest surfing complex. At the Cocoa Beach Pier, where numerous world-renowned surf competitions take place, visitors can visit a variety of restaurants, shops and bars.
Cocoa Village, an 1860s landmark, is a quaint district where shoppers can find everything from antique stores to eclectic clothing. Those who want a culinary treat can sample great restaurants, ranging from upscale to casual.
Art lovers can’t miss the Eau Gallie Arts District. A cozy downtown area anchored by the Brevard Art Museum. The district is the place to find great art, art supplies and adorable antiques.
Trendy boutiques and a cool nightlife define Historic Downtown Melbourne. Since the 1900s, it has been where the young as well as young-at-heart come to have a great time. Pubs and night spots line the downtown, and restaurants are aplenty.
Downtown Titusville, established in 1850, has a range of restaurants and interesting historic markers. One of the oldest communities on the Indian River, this nostalgic area features arts and crafts shops, clothing boutiques and nearby riverside parks. It also features the North Brevard Historical Museum, where visitors can learn about the remarkable first families that settled Titusville and take a unique look into the industries that supported the early Florida pioneers.
Within one mile of downtown is the Titusville Municipal Marina, featuring a ships store and a large seawall for viewing manatees and other marine life. Visitors can enjoy a walking tour which reveals the area’s history on descriptive panels located along public walkways.
Families will enjoy an array of activities for the kids, from the expansive “Paws On” exhibit at the Brevard Zoo to hands-on discovery at The Dinosaur Store, complete with an Egyptian-themed dig site. Local museums, including a planetarium, are also favorite stops for those with little ones in tow.
And for nature enthusiasts, the Space Coast is one of the largest intact eco-systems in Florida, with more than 250 square miles of wildlife refuge as well as bird and sea turtle nesting areas and manatee and dolphin habitats.
For more information about Viera and the Space Coast area, visit here.
Washington Nationals Spring Training Information
First Practice Dates
February 13 – Pitchers and catchers
February 16 – Position players
Space Coast Stadium
5800 Stadium Parkway
Viera, FL 32940
2013 Ticket Prices
Batter’s Box, $26
Reserved Bleachers, $12
For ticket information and to see a Nationals spring training schedule, visit here.