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Nats vs. Cardinals – 3/31/12

Mar 31, 2012, 4:41 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg faces the Cardinals in the spring's final home game.

VIERA, Fla. — Well, we've reached the end of another spring in Viera, home to choices, a living inspiration, and where life is always better. (At least, that's what they've told us on billboards over the years.) The Nationals play their final home game of the spring this afternoon; they'll wrap up the Grapefruit League the next two days with road games against the Cardinals in Jupiter and the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

Stephen Strasburg makes his final tune-up before Opening Day, but don't look for anything spectacular. Davey Johnson plans to pull his ace after only 60-70 pitches, then turn to No. 5 starter John Lannan (who will appear out of the bullpen).

A couple of lineup tweaks, including Danny Espinosa at shortstop (don't get any grand ideas, Johnson is just giving Ian Desmond a rest and preparing Espinosa in case of emergency). Roger Bernadina was originally penciled in as the starting center fielder, but he wasn't due to return from his father's funeral in Curacao in time for the game, so Corey Brown was summoned from minor-league camp to fill that spot.

Plenty of updates to come, so please check back often…

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: Cardinals feed via MLB Gameday Audio, XM 186
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, Wind 11 mph in from RF

STARTING LINEUPS
NATIONALS
2B Steve Lombardozzi
SS Danny Espinosa
3B Chad Tracy
RF Jayson Werth

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  1. bdrube - Mar 31, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    "The Nationals play their final home game of the spring this afternoon"That's the best news of this whole post. :)

  2. JaneB - Mar 31, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    "The Nationals play their final home game of the spring this afternoon"Amen, brother.

  3. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    Aw, we are going to see our Rule 5 guy (Komatsu). Guess he has a chance of making the Cards squad.

  4. #4 - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Off subjectFor those of us who like to listen to sports radio and have often lamented the complete lack of knowledge on either station. I offer this. Between 12 and 12:40 today, Danny Rouhier did a Nats segment on 106.7 that was really good. He gave a season preview, did a good interview with one of the MASN reporters, broke down Anthony Rendon's swing, gave his thoughts on why the Nats wuld good this year but not great, etc. The kicker was that he said he felt it was his civic duty after no baseball for 30 years to provide good radio baseball talk. He promised that no matter what he is covering at a given time, if you call his show and want to talk Nats, he will drop whatever subject he is doing, and talk to you. I suggest we all test him. He's on 10AM-12PM every day with Holden Kushner.

  5. Bups - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Last home game and Strasburg pitching, yet no radio or TV. That is pathetic.

  6. CN - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Regarding Rouhier, I think he really knows his basketball & baseball. IIRC, he was a college or HS baseball player, so that helps. He's actually knowledgeable when it comes to the "other" pro teams here. He made the evening drive home bearable. I think only 2 sports jockies in the area even know what a baseball looks like, it's Jason Bishop (Lurch) and Rouhier. Everyone else will just patronize Nats fans by asking the easy questions (i.e. Stras, Harper).

  7. gonatsgo - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    #4 – because that is such a good time for us to be able to call into a radio show? Not that I don't appreciate it, it's a good sign and we should try to take advantage of it. Bups – agreed completely – It's a Saturday and I hate being in the dark unless I pay for access. It's gameday for me.

  8. Ben - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    I'm listening to this game on the STL radio feed, and this play by play announcer sounds like he has had one too many drinks. Or maybe he experimented around with too many drugs when he was younger. He sounds like a mix between Homer Simpson and Buck Martinez. Just sayin…Anyone else feel the same way?

  9. gonatsgo - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    And gameday is going to be hours behind again today.Spring training for them , too?

  10. phill dunn - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    Everyone has been concerned about Desmond but the real cause for concern is Espinosa's bat. MLB pitchers found his weaknesses midway thru last season and since the he's been a disaster at the plate. He needs a competent hitting coach to work with him and it's NOT Eckstein!

  11. jmorrisa - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    #4…Danny Rouhier's the best. He's arguably the most knowledgeable – and least rude – talking head on that station and doesn't even have a professional background in broadcasting or journalism. Not sure if that speaks to his talent, or the overall lack of talent on 106.7. Perhaps it's both. Thanks for the info.

  12. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    I really don't like Mike Shannon.Anyway.. they are both making comments on the pace at which Stras is pitching is he always slow? I don't remember that.

  13. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Is Strassie getting shelled?

  14. DWS - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Hard to tell but these guys are idiots. Yeah they're on drugs. Wow good ones too.

  15. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    This Cards announcer sounds like he's about 80 and has had about 80 beers–already.

  16. Ben - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    "What college do you have to go to, to do this sound stuff?? … Space Coast University?" ahahah… NOT.

  17. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Strasburg is not the domineering, lights out pitcher he was before the TJ surgery. Maybe he just needs more time to get back to that level but he is certainly not there yet.

  18. DWS - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    The announcer woke up…Komatsu made a catch.

  19. Old Lurker - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Mike Shannon is 72. Played 3B and OF for Cards i 60s.

  20. Ben - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    DWS: I think the drunk announcer has passed out, because I haven't heard him since the 2nd inning. I like this new guy. His sentences are more put together, the content makes sense, and he isn't slurring his words.

  21. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    MarkZ says: And I have to say, Espinosa looked very smooth turning that double play from the shortstop side. (He says, fully aware he just released the hounds…) Umm Mark, if Espi doesn't hit, the hounds will rip him to shreds

  22. Ben - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Old Lurker: Was Shannon ever a boxer? I feel like Mohammad Ali might be easier to understand… (Sorry, but I went there)

  23. Kavorka - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Line-up for the second half of 2012:Lombardozzi – 4Espi – 6Zim – 5Morse – 7Werth – 9Harper – 8LaRoche – 3Ramos – 2Pitcher – 1

  24. Old Lurker - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Ben: He has about eight years on me. You have to know when to fold them.

  25. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Wow.. Shannon is 3 sheets to the wind.

  26. bdrube - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    I hereby nominate Anon @ 1:50 for the most clueless comment in this thread. SS not only pitched very well in his last ST outing and in his final game of 2011, he has shown himself to be the type who turns up the intensity level depending on the individual game circumstances.

  27. Meridian - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Espinosa clearly has the physical talent to be a successful hitter with more than occasional power. If he fails, it will be a mental failure — failure to recognize pitches, failure of patience, perhaps even a failure of confidence.And it that happens to such a gifted player with so much potential to help this team content, a lot of the responsibility — not all, but a lot — has to lie with the coaching staff. Let's hope it doesn't.

  28. Dave - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    I am marveling at how absolutely awful Mike Shannon is. I'm hearing a pre-recorded commercial, and he's nearly coherent. Not in the PBP, though.

  29. Tom in AR - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Mike Shannon has always talked like that. He is kind of like Sonny and Sam in DC, although probably still more coherent than Sam. It is kind of a weird voice, though.

  30. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    In the music business we always say " bad rehearsal, good performance" – as a matter of fact, good rehearsals scare us to death. I think we want to see Strassie with a good sized chip on his shoulder come opening day. He will be a bear between now and then.

  31. Tom in AR - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Is this going to be a three pitch inning?

  32. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    I was once directing a show with over 200 children aged 5 to 15. It was extremely complicated and the rehearsal was dreadful. None of my "assistants" had any clue that everything I wanted to do was accomplished. The show was great.

  33. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Looks like a smart move by Davey to give SS the extra day of rest before his last ST start, as opposed to before his Opening Day start. Stras pitches better on his regular schedule.

  34. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Dreadful in the sense that it seemed noisy and chaotic, with a dozen little sub-plots that all came together in the end.

  35. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Yes, I think Stras is probably better on a strict routine. There was an article about he gets upset at things that are not the way they are supposed to be (holes in the mound, for example). Also he didn't have the regular fielders. I believe he's getting better about not letting the "little stuff" disturb him, but he's still very intense.

  36. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    I don't think we need to panic over Strasburg in a long-term way, but I do still think Jordan is better and more experienced. SS is still pretty new to the big leagues and there will be rough patches. I don't like the idea of him matching up to the other aces in this first almost-season. Let's see how he adjusts.

  37. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    JZ had a couple of "mental meltdowns" last year. Hopefully he's past that. On the match-ups, I think given the personalities of the two pitchers you are better matching Stras against other aces. JZ doesn't care who the opposing pitcher is. Stras does, and he wants to face the best.

  38. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    Everyone realizes that we have to listen to this crew again tomorrow.. UGH! Where are Charlie and Dave!!!!

  39. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    gameday for me. March 31, 2012 1:24 PM Ben said… I'm listening to this game on the STL radio feed, and this play by play announcer sounds like he has had one too many drinks. Or maybe he experimented around with too many drugs when he was younger. He sounds like a mix between Homer Simpson and Buck Martinez. Just sayin…Anyone else feel the same way? March 31, 2012 1:26 PM—————————This was mentioned during the first game the Spring that they sounded drunk. Actually much better today. Probably only a few Buds.

  40. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Are they better than nothing? Which is what we get on Monday.

  41. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Maybe the Cards players all showed up in the best shape of their lives, and gave up wind sprints for marathons. Just a thought.

  42. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    The defense hasn't helped their pitchers today. Espinosa with a wide throw that was ruled a single. Not sure if Desi would have made the play.

  44. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Lot of students absent today (Spring Break) but boring, losing game… They couldn't have picked a better schedule for this?

  45. MicheleS - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    I just hope all the regulars are playing tomorrow.

  46. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    If it's overcast there, which it must be if rain is a-coming, does that affect Espy and the batters eye? Because I think he just struck out again.

  47. Anonymous - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Another clutch RBI hit for Corey Brown.

  48. NatsLady - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Well, that game wasn't worth a wad of bubblegum. Later, folks.

  49. jmorrisa - Mar 31, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    NatsLady, I'm in the same boat. Should have had 14 guitar students today, ended up with about 5. Lots of time to follow a game that I would've rather not followed.

  50. Cwj - Mar 31, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Bdrube- I second that!Anon 1:50-Strasburg is not the same pitcher before TJ surgery, because he's much more mature now. He's very much still a lights out pitcher, a true ace, all of that good stuff :-)His velocity is the same, he's healthy, and will be among the league leaders in ERA (assuming he pitches 162 innings), and K/9, K/BB, WHIP, FIP, etc etc.

  51. Cwj - Mar 31, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    Swami- I disagree about Zimmermann being better than Strasburg, but Jordan is definitely more experienced now.I think Zimmermann will continue to build on last year's success and have an outstanding season.Pitch for pitch, Stras matches up well with any team's ace.

  52. dabassguy1 - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Jmorrisa – What type of guitar do you teach?I'm a musician as well, tho by hobby, and I play the bass. Hence the moniker. Maybe a jam session on a game trip?

  53. baseballswami - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    Sounds like we could put together quite the NI ensemble!

  54. Cwj - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    I'm actually a drummer, myself. It's just a fun hobby for me. When younger though I wanted to play in a jazz band (and did in middle school).

  55. jmorrisa - Mar 31, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    dabassguy…I play mostly rock and contemporary, but I've been getting into a lot of hybrid picking folk stuff lately. Here's a youtube of a song I recorded for this past christmas (shameless self promotion warning). We should get jams going!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wllwAbU2yg0

  56. Cwj - Mar 31, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    Wow that's very good Jmorrisa!

  57. dabassguy1 - Mar 31, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Nice.One of the drummers I play with is a Deadhead. This is a video we whipped up and he posted for a Dead Covers project contest in Feb.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUqepA0CHyo

  58. jmorrisa - Mar 31, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Thanks folks! Awesome video, too, dabassguy!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 48 --
ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
PHILADELPHIA 48 61 11.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 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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