The Washington Nationals held a media availability for internet writers (bloggers) yesterday afternoon before the game with the Reds. John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen were provided for an interview en masse. After that, Drew Storen answered a few questions about draft day.

While the contents of the interviews (below) didn't produce any screaming headlines, the best news was that the Nats are slowly integrating the bloggers into the media coverage of the team.

The Nationals have had somewhat of an uneven relationship with their dedicated bloggers in the past, but are making strides towards inclusion, at least by inviting some bloggers to press conferences, public relations events and providing these media availabilities.

By my count, there are over 30 active blogs that cover only the Nationals. Of those 30, at least half update their pages on a daily, if not multiple times per day, basis.

This is in addition to the 20 or so other general DC sports blogs that offer at least passing commentary on the Nats. You can find links to almost all of these on the right hand side of my page in the "Natosphere" and "Multiple Personality" blogrolls.

That's a lot of space dedicated to a team on pace for 118 losses.

And while not all blogs that cover the Nats either need--much less want--team access, there are those of us that feel the coverage we bring to our readers, and the Nationals community at large, could be so much more enhanced if we have semi-regular access to the organization and players.

Sadly, there's going to be a day (very soon, perhaps) when newspapers are no longer able to cover daily sports economically or efficiently enough to provide the coverage that rabid sports fans demand. The need for alternative sports writing is already there--for commentary, critical thinking, evaluation. It's only logical that daily reporting will follow suit.

The Los Angeles Dodgers recently started credentialing qualified internet writers, and it's really just a matter of time before all MLB teams will have to follow suit. The NHL in general, and the Washington Capitals specifically, have been out front in welcoming "new media" to their press boxes, and in the case of the Caps, to their locker room.

Our sister site, Caps News Network (among many others), was credentialed this past season to cover the Caps, and the type of coverage we were able to provide was greatly enhanced by access to the press box and locker room.

It's a win-win situation. The blogs get better access and provide better quality content, and the team gets free publicity and a higher quality of coverage from, and for, their internet-based fans.

So with that, below is a synopsis of yesterday's media availability with 4/5 of the Nats starting rotation. I'll have part two later tonight with Drew Storen, the "other" first round draft pick.

Participating in the call were Nats Fanboy Looser, Nationals Pride, Nats 320, Nationals Review, Federal Baseball, We've Got Heart, Just a Nats Fan, and Nats News Network

Q: What is the difference between former pitching coach Randy St. Claire and current coach Steve McCatty?
Lannan: "Saint is more into the video aspect of pitching...Cat is more based on feel, based on what you see and how the hitter reacts to what you throw"

Q: Directed at Detwiler and Zimmermann, you throw a lot of strikes, but are giving up a lot of hits. How do you correct the problems are you facing?
Detwiler: "I was throwing too good of strikes." Need to work on hitting the corners, throwing more quality strikes.
Zimmermann: "I've been getting ahead of guys 0-2 then make too good a pitch instead of throwing one in the dirt or off the plate--I usually leave it over the middle."

Q: What do you remember about your draft day?
Stammen: "I was just happy to be drafted. I was excited to get the opportunity to play professional baseball."
Zimmermann: Really excited. Didn't take too long to sign, only a week or so. Went up to Vermont right away and got started.
Detwiler: Really excited to get drafted by the Nationals, to make a quick contribution to the team.
Lannan: Eager to sign, get going and start professional career.

Q: What advice would you have for Strasburg in dealing with the hype?
Stammen: "Stay humble. Keep a level head and keep working hard."

Q: For Zimmermann, how's the elbow (--ed. he was skipped a start on Tuesday)?
Zimmermann: "Just fine, was a little tired but I'll be ready to go Saturday for my start."

Q: Would a veteran presence help or are you all learning from each other's mistakes?
Lannan: "Of course a veteran starter would help, someone that's been around and knows how to win." We've got a "great vibe" between all the starters though.

Q: To Lannan, what was the difference in your last start (complete game, one unearned run)?
Lannan: "Last couple of starts I've been focusing down in the zone and letting my sinker do the work." Trusting my stuff better and having more confidence. Started off well in spring training, then got roughed up a bit.

Q: How different is pitching in the big leagues?
Stammen: "It's a big difference, that's why it's called the major leauges". "I didn't start this whole process...just to get here and say that I've gotten to the big leagues. It's time to move on and win games. That 's what we're here to do in the big leagues."

Q: To Detwiler, you're throwing more strikeouts in the bigs than in the minors. Why?
Detwiler: "Last year I tried a little too hard." Keeping the ball down and trusting his stuff. "I've really developed my changeup to keep the hitters off-balance."

Q: Is the leap to the bigs as big as we would imagine?
Detwiler: Yeah. You make a mistake in the minors it's a foul ball, but in the bigs it gets hammered. You "can't leave pitches up in the zone" in the bigs.

Q: To Detwiler, were you disappointed in getting sent down to minor league camp so early in spring training?
Detwiler: "Was trying too hard and trying to be too fine instead of getting ahead of hitters and being able to put them away."

Q: The national media is being tough on the Nats. How do you deal?
Lannan: "We don't let it bother us. Our record hasn't been that great, but we know what we can do...they are going to have their opinions, but we know what the truth is and we know we can go out there and get some wins."