The work is what Micah Owings missed most. Being a pitcher meant a structured, protective routine, a limit to how much baseball he could play. Being a hitter means all the batting practice he wants, extra groundballs after workouts, staying late to catch more flyballs. “That’s what I’m looking forward to,” Owings said. “Getting after it and working.”

The Washington Nationals are short on underdogs and experiments this spring, but Owings counts as both. A non-roster invitee, Owings will spend the next month and a half making the transition from pitcher to full-time position player. He has for years been one of the best-hitting hurlers in baseball, and at 30 he wants to find out if he can become one of the rare, uncommonly talented players to reach the majors two ways.

Late Monday morning, Owings took his place at first base on Field 4, snatching throws that whistled across the diamond. His 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame towered above the other large men in his group. He stepped into the batting cage and launched pitches over the fence, honing the raw ability that has awed teammates for years.