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Sports

March 30, 2013

Nationals proud of 2012, want more in 2013

(Continued)

A few minutes later, Cashman offered this assessment of the Nationals: “Obviously, they’ve got a great team.”

Clippard has seen both sides. He signed with the Yankees out of high school and made his major league debut for them, then was traded to the Nationals and spent time with Washington’s 100-loss teams in 2008 and 2009.

The Yankees, he noted, always get attention.

Now, for a change, the Nationals do.

“Everyone’s still talking about them, just not in much of a positive light. That’s just the nature of having that symbol on your hat over there. The Yankees, wherever they go, the spotlight’s on them,” Clippard said. “It’s nice to kind of have that over here a little bit, because ... we’re really trying to build something here that’s going to last for a long time, a lot like the Yankees did.”

While Cashman spoke Friday about the challenges of putting this year’s team together, Washington’s Johnson was pleased to discuss a relatively injury-free spring.

“Nobody got hurt. Everybody’s feeling pretty frisky. We’ve got some minor injuries but nothing major,” Johnson said. “That’s the thing as far as a manager that I’m most pleased with coming out of spring.”

The Nationals added closer Rafael Soriano — a free agent who left the Yankees — along with center fielder Denard Span and fifth starter Dan Haren, but otherwise kept things pretty much the same as last season.

There was very little, if any, true competition during the team’s time in Viera, Fla.

Now Johnson wants to see more progress.

“It’s fun to know that you’re on the right track,” said the reigning NL Manager of the Year, who plans to retire after this season. “The challenge is still there. But we haven’t done the things that I know we’re capable of.”

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