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Nats vs. Astros – 3/3/12

Mar 3, 2012, 2:44 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Osceola County Stadium, spring training home of the Houston Astros.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — They may have played an exhibition ballgame yesterday, but the actual exhibition season begins today for the Nationals. Yes, it's the Grapefruit League opener, and it's already got a nice little storyline to it: Livan Hernandez facing his old team.

Cast aside by the Nationals over the winter, Hernandez hooked up with the Astros on a minor-league contract. By all accounts, he's pretty much assured of a spot in their Opening Day rotation, and the Nats' all-time leader in wins and starts will be on the mound today wearing his ninth different big-league cap.

Livo will be facing a Nationals lineup that features more regulars than saw action yesterday against Georgetown (Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Rick Ankiel chief among them). All eyes, though, will once again be on Bryce Harper, who is starting in right field and batting seventh. Can't wait to see the 19-year-old try to put wood on Livo's 59-mph Bugs Bunny curveball.

No TV today (Bob and F.P. will be on tomorrow from Space Coast Stadium) but Charlie and Dave will have their first radio call of the year. And, of course, I'll have plenty of updates and analysis here throughout, so be sure to check back…

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. HOUSTON ASTROS
Where: Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), XM 185
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees, Wind 16 mph out to CF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
1B Chad Tracy

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  1. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    WOOO HOO.. Real Baseball!!!!Stinks that we don't get to see Livo on TV today, but I am sure Charlie/Dave will be just as entertaining!(Mark, also would love to hear how Livo is doing..

  2. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Reposting…1A… CSN seems to be the only Sports channel from our area that is actually covering the Team. I watched the MASN report yesterday and about 20 minutes of a 2 hour show on Nats, Rest O's. I actually like AMber.. too bad she is an O's fan. In Other news.. I have been up since 7 am making Chocolate Chip cookies (i have to make them for someone's birthday).. I wonder if there is a way to get a care package to Detwiler. He still looks like he needs to gain some weight.

  3. Marty - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    It is going to take a while for me not to be confused about playing the Astros and seeing a DH spot in the lineup.

  4. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Yay for real baseball! Yay for Charlie & Dave! Yay for CSN coverage! Yay for chocolate chippers! (hmmm….maybe I need to cut back on the coffee a bit – nah, what the heck) Yay for Livo and his Bug Bunny curve (for old times' sake)!

  5. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    oops, I dropped this "s"

  6. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I don't think that they move to the AL until 2013, so you have a while to get used to it. I think the DH today is a function of ST preferences.

  7. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    Oh, and I vote yes on a Livo update. When you have a chance. No pressure. :-)

  8. Anonymous - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    anybody know where this game might be televised on the internet? Besides MLB tv?

  9. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Todays game is not televised.

  10. Anonymous - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    No games are ever televised on the internet outside of MLB.tv. That's the point of MLB.tv.

  11. baseballswami - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Woo, hoo – Charlie and Dave today!!! Is Mark still there and will there be a game thread? Can't wait!!! And- some of the regulars are actually playing today.

  12. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Sounds like there will be, swami. If memory serves, Mark is there until March 6 on this early ST stint.

  13. NatsLady - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Working. Hope I can listen. Got my autographed Livo jersey on!

  14. JaneB - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    I kinda hope Livo is lights out for his three innings and then we score big in the last six innings. Even though people are working on stuff, which trumps actually winning. Even though Livo plays for another team. It's good that, in the regular season, he still gets to hit because he's one of the few who can. Shoot, we were better with him last year s a pinch hitter than we were with Matt Stairs. But that was last year. And we are better in all ways this year. Can't wait til 1:05.

  15. NatsLady - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    This from Twitter. You could almost feel sorry for the Astros. Livo in Nats gear.It looks like a Nationals pitcher vs a Nationals pitcher… no new pic for Livo? #Nats http://pic.twitter.com/p0StPWdj

  16. sjm308 - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I am guessing this group realizes that Livan is not even on the 40 man roster and that this start means a great deal to him. I looked at the Astro's depth chart and he is not even listed in their top 8 starters. I realize all the stats point to him not performing well last year but I loved watching him pitch when he was on. Nothing better than that 64 mph curve after an 81 mph "fastball". All the best to Livan today, but:Go Nats!!

  17. Drew - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Michele:I hope Ross's cookies make it past old friend Livo, a graceful athlete with a physique built by Cookie Monster.

  18. Waddu eye no - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    I'd rather watch, but i'd also rather hear charlie & dave , so i'm happy. Gyfng

  19. lls45 - Mar 3, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Mark — will the XM broadcast be called by Charlie and Dave, or is that just the FM broadcast?

  20. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    lls45: I believe the XM broadcast will be the Astros' radio feed. For spring training games, they appear to use the home team's call most of the time.

  21. baseballswami - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Hi, Mark – you must have been lurking to answer that question so fast. I have always had a feeling that you follow what we chat about here pretty much- how often do you check in? Just wonderin'…..Wouldn't want you to catch us being naughty or anything. You can skip the John Lannan and Desi stink conversations, though – they are pretty much all the same.

  22. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    baseballswami: It depends. If I'm sitting in front of my computer at the time and not furiously typing away at something else, I see the comments immediately. But if I'm in the clubhouse or on the field or otherwise occupied, I may not see them all for a little while.I do monitor all comments, though. Can't trust you guys entirely to keep things civil and family-appropriate! ;)

  23. dabassguy1 - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    I just sprang for the MLB.com app for the i-devices (phone, pad and pod). All three devices for 14.99 for the year. Includes all game day audio, including today's game. Looking forward to hearing some live Nats baseball.

  24. Knoxville Nat - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Since we are just killing time here waiting for the game to begin let me ask Mark this important question. Has baby Z started on the switch hitting yet?

  25. sjm308 - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    Test

  26. sjm308 - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Rumor at my gym is Willie mo baby Z was hitting the weights last week. Could not get Ladson or Boz to confirm.

  27. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    UUUUGGGGGGGHHHH..I just turned on 106.7.. Seriously.. 10 minutes to game time and We have to LISTEN to Redskins talk???? Where is the pregame show!

  28. Mark Zuckerman - Mar 3, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    Knoxville Nat said…Since we are just killing time here waiting for the game to begin let me ask Mark this important question. Has baby Z started on the switch hitting yet?No switch-hitting yet, but we have noticed he seems to pick up toys and spoons with his left hand more than his right. Hmm…

  29. NatsLady - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Charlie and Dave in my ear!! Great sound.

  30. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    I hear you, MicheleS. I tuned it in on my way home from the grocery store. At least it's baseball now. Yay!All of you fans at the game, I want to hear a big welcome home for Ramos today!

  31. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Oh, wait. He's not in today's lineup. Well, I want to hear it tomorrow, then. :-)(Don't worry, Mark. If he's a lefty, he'll always be in his right mind, just like me. :-))

  32. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    For those of you that need to see a game today.. MLB is at Yanks and Phillthies..Just an fyi.. The Clearwater park of the Phillthies is one of the best string training parks to go to! Took my Dad there he loved it.

  33. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    All the Livo talk on the pregame makes me kinda wistful. Sigh. (I know, I know. No room on the roster, the future is now, yada yada yada. Still.)

  34. SweetBlues - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    I can't get 106.7— d%&$

  35. HAL jr - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    SweetBlues, they are on the internet.

  36. baseballswami - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Desi took 8 pitches!!!! That is a very good sign.

  37. SweetBlues - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Tnx Hal!

  38. dabassguy1 - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Ankiel with a triple. Good omen, I hope.

  39. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Sounds like the wind helped some. Livoudini gets out of it. :-)

  40. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    (Sorry, can't help it. grrrr…Livo escaped)

  41. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    er, yeah, what Mark said.Rick Ankiel got a hold of one and sent a ball off the center field fence, legging out a triple (though, honestly, that would've been a routine flyout if the wind wasn't blowing straight out).

  42. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    How can they not have a radar gun in a Spring Training game? For some pitchers, velocity is very important to monitor during the spring.Odd…

  43. baseballswami - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    So about Jackson – is this what we can expect or is this way too early to panic? Somewhere back in Viera, John Lannan is smiling.

  44. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Too early, imho. (Disclaimer: I'm not a GM or scout, blah blah blah.) :-)Scouting report on Bugs is here.

  45. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Swami- Way too early :) Almost ridiculously early.I would wait until April when the games count to worry about Jackson. But I'm sure he'll be fine.His control was actually pretty good last year so this is likely an aberration.

  46. Jim Kurtzke - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    I'm still trying to get my head around $10 million for a #4 starter.

  47. Sunderland - Mar 3, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    I might only spend 2 innings with Charlie and Dave today, but it's great to listen in. So glad Livo looked good and seems to have a rotation spot. I think Pudge might join him in a couple more weeks.

  48. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    That Gasbag John Heyman is at the game..

  49. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    Jim Kurtzke- On a one year deal that's not bad, considering he'd be a #3 on Teams that don't have Stras, Zimm and Gio. Had it been 4 years 40 million however, that would be ridiculous.

  50. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Come on, fellas, let's see that 2012 "get 'em in" Natitude. :-)A leadoff double by Jesus Flores (which nearly cleared the fence in left-center) goes to waste as Desmond strikes out on a breaking ball in the dirt, Espinosa grounds out to first and Ankiel grounds out to second.

  51. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Michele- Why don't we like Heyman again? I can't remember :-)

  52. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    Heyman needs to be under the Cone of Silence. :-)

  53. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    I too am glad that Livo pitched well. I really want him to make the Astros roster.However, when he eventually considers retiring, the Nats should sign him just so he can retire as a Nat.Always one of my favorite Nats, and is in my Nats hall of fame.

  54. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Agreed re. Livo, Cwj.In ex-Nat news, somehow I missed or forgot that Kearns has a minor league deal with the Marlins.

  55. Steady Eddie - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Cwj — Heyman wrote a ridiculous and shallow piece about how the Nats' extension for RZim was a gross overpay.Clueless about things like leadership by example and Mr. Clutch, and what all of that means to a young, up and coming club.

  56. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    What is this, a ballgame or an air raid? I like our sub horn better. :-)

  57. Anonymous - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Detwiler gave up a HR? Cut him. Yesterday.

  58. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Steady Eddie- Oh yeah I do remember reading that.Forgot that it was Heyman who wrote it.

  59. baseballswami - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    RossD gave up a home run and walked the guy before him but has struck out 3 batters. Where are the cookies??? Ross needs cookies!

  60. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    I think that MicheleS couldn't find a FedEx office that would ship them on a Saturday. ;-)

  61. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Time to go to the store so I can listen to some of the game :-)Reception not so good in my house.

  62. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    I think anyone who goes hitless or gives up a run this spring should immediately be cut from the team :D

  63. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    I had the same problem with their AM station. See you later. Oh, btw, we need choc. chip cookies.

  64. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    Yay! Nats on the scoreboard.

  65. baseballswami - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Nats are abusing the wall today – 3 balls hit off the wall. I hope this call " and Harper swings at the first pitch and misses" is not going to become a habit. Nats on the board – nice hitting by the shark and flores, who both have something to prove.

  66. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    I know he needs those cookies!! Good Grief that boy is working his way into the Pen!Godd for J Flo…

  67. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Meant… Good for J Flo..

  68. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Maybe Flores is fully healed. Good for him if so.

  69. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    LOL, I have to get into midseason form. I'm halfway listening to the radio and Durbin's coming in. Thinking of his Phillies days, I'm like: we can hit him. Oh, wait. He's a Nat now.

  70. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    That's Okay 1a.. we all need spring training!Look Bixler is in (and not for the Nats)

  71. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    Glad that Bixler caught on somewhere.

  72. waddu eye no - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    MicheleS said…That's Okay 1a.. we all need spring training!good point

  73. Anonymous - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Same ole Livo – 3 hits in 2 innings, but no damage. Haven't checked the schedule, but hope he gets to pitch in DC for the Stros this summer. The place will be rocking as long as he's in the game, which will be a sure-fire sellout.Love that J Flo looks so solid. He may make it tough on Davey if he keeps raking like he is today.

  74. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Astros are in DC from April 16-19 (all weekday games).

  75. Rabbit - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Harper is getting the bat on the ball. Better than the Desmonds and Espinosas.

  76. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Yay! Thanks, Mark.Livo has no hard feelings toward Davey Johnson, Mike Rizzo and the rest of the organization, though. He understands this is a business. I'll have plenty more on him in a full article later.

  77. MicheleS - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Well.. off to the b-day party and delivering the cookies.. I hope I can get the radio reception in Lovettesville.

  78. Anonymous - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    Mark, since I now know you read this, thank you very much for hosting the best Nats blog in the world. We all appreciate your work, and we know that you are an important factor in the level of civility that we choose to keep here. It is out of mutual respect, respect for the Nats, and respect for you.Corky

  79. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    While driving back from the store I got to hear Charlie and Dave talking about how Jackson was working on his new mechanics today, and felt a little awkward at first but felt more comfortable throwing in the pen after he left the game (or something to that effect).Hopefully they don't tinker with him too much, causing him to lose confidence. Probably not likely, but just a thought.

  80. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Well said Corky.Best Nats blog by far.

  81. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    Have fun, MicheleS!Agreed re. the blog, Cwj and Corky.

  82. waddu eye no - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    anybody else already tired of hearing mark sanchez' heartbeart?which reminds me. i hope our optimism extends to advertisers so we get more varied commercials this year. if i have to see those two whiny women on the beach again all year i'm going to puke. that and the cave man going for a smoothie. best 25 commercials go north!

  83. natsfan1a - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Eh, we'll get 'em tomorrow.Will be (somewhat) interesting to see the new commercial lineup in tomorrow's broadcast. Will be even better to see our guys in action!

  84. Section 222 - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    For all those following the radio and concerned about reception in different places, let me highly recommend the MLB app for your smartphone or tablet. Provides Gameday play by play, scores, video highlights, and news, but the best feature is you can get the home and away radio broadcasts for all major league games, including the preseason and the postseason. Of course you need a cell phone signal (or wireless) but sometimes these days that's more reliable than radio reception. There are no blackouts so you can listen while you're in the local area, and it's great for when you're traveling and want to hear the soothing tones of Charlie and Dave. Finally, because the broadcast is about 15 seconds behind, with a little trial and error, you can synch it with the MASN TV broadcast if you'd rather listen to Charlie and Dave than FP and Bob. Just $14.99 a season and worth every penny.

  85. waddu eye no - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    222 – and how.

  86. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Thanks Sec 222, I'll look into that. By synchronizing the two broadcasts do you mean by using the dvr on cable? Like pausing it, waiting for the radio to catch up, then playing?I never thought about that before…

  87. JaneB - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    what corky said.The radio reception is even worse this year than last. The MLB app is great — spring for it, guys!

  88. waddu eye no - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    cwj – Like pausing it, waiting for the radio to catch up, then playing?works great

  89. Cwj - Mar 3, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Good day for Bryce against actual major league pitchers, and Flores as well.Jackson showed he can get out of jams by inducing grounders.Detwiler's strikeouts seem to indicate he'll be good out of the pen.That's what I take out of this game. Can't wait to see them on tv tomorrow!Go Nats!

  90. Dawn - Mar 3, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    Making my daily visit to Nats world, first stop always Nats Insider. Unless it's on national television the only way I can watch the Nats is on MLB.com, todays game was not available to watch, will listen to it later while on the treadmill. Not sure why the rancor towards Heyman's comments regarding Zim. Love Ryan, but with his seemingly annual stints on the DL I understand other people might hesitate to approve. Up to Zim to prove them wrong. Hope Livo gets a spot in the Astros rotation, rooting for him.

  91. Section 222 - Mar 3, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    Cwj — yes, you can synch by pausing your DVR and letting the audio broadcast on the iPhone app catch up. I use the crack of the bat as a way to get them exactly together!

  92. Scooter - Mar 4, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    When Jason Bourgeois came up for the first time, I turned to my dad and said, "Right now, Zuckerman is up there typing his Joe Proletariat joke. I love that one."Mark Zuckerman, I am very disappoined in you.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 44 --
ATLANTA 55 47 1.5
MIAMI 48 52 8.0
NEW YORK 48 54 8.5
PHILADELPHIA 44 58 12.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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