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A 1-2 punch in the 3-4 spots

Mar 14, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

USA Today Sports Images
Bryce Harper rounds the bases after homering in the first inning yesterday.

VIERA, Fla. — It appears all but a certainty now that the Nationals will open the season with Bryce Harper hitting third and Ryan Zimmerman sliding down into the cleanup role consistently for the first time in his career. And based on the way things have progressed here this spring, why wouldn't Davey Johnson want to go with that lineup arrangement?

Yes, we always have to issue the disclaimer about this only being spring training, and you should never read too much into spring training stats. OK, good, now that we have that out of the way, let's read too much into spring training stats!

Here are Harper and Zimmerman's current Grapefruit League batting lines…

HARPER: .444/.459/.806
ZIMMERMAN: .474/.474/.684

Aside from the fact they're not drawing any walks at this point, it's hard not to like those numbers. Plain and simple, both Harper and Zimmerman have been raking at the plate all spring, and neitherRead more ยป

  1. Gonat - Mar 14, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Yesterday indeed was a rare opportunity for Bryce to have 2 men on base when he got up to bat.

  2. natsfan1a - Mar 14, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Hehe, I see what you did there. :-) I'm also ready for ST to end. We'll be down to two weeks soon, so that's good.On another note, tuned in to watch some of the WBC game last night, and found that I was rooting for Italy. (My husband came downstairs as I was "oh no-ing" something, and he's like, "You're rooting for Italy?" and I was like, "Um, yeah, I suppose I am." Went to bed during yet another pitching change, just when it seemed about to be tied up. Oh well. Now I can focus on rooting for Team USA only.)Yes, we always have to issue the disclaimer about this only being spring training, and you should never read too much into spring training stats. OK, good, now that we have that out of the way, let's read too much into spring training stats!

  3. SlowPitch63 - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    I've posted here on several occasions about Ted Williams' thoughts on swinging at the first pitch. I got it slightly wrong.From "The Science of Hitting" by Ted Williams and John Underwood, Simon & Schuster Fireside Edition 1986:Pg 48 paragraph 3 "For me hitting third in the line up,there was one thing that was 95 per cent certain: I was going to take the first pitch. Even a strike right down the middle. The reason that I swung on the other 5%…was to keep the pitcher honest."Pg 48 para 4 "…(the rule doesn't apply in succeeding times up)"Pg 49 para 3 "You must learn to make that firsst time up a key time…by making him pitch."Pg 50 pqara 7 "I said I took the first pitch almost every time I batted the last ten or twelve years I played." The book would make a great addition to any baseball library.Let's Play Two!

  4. Steady Eddie - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    1a — can always root for the Netherlands if the Shark is playing, at least not against the USA of course!

  5. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    I think that ST note from 1a should be the standard for NI posts about spring training.It is great to see these two and Rendon (whoever the pitchers are) raking.

  6. Joe Seamhead - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Gonat, between Span and Werth, Harper and Zimmerman should have lots of opportunities to drive in a ton of runs.This lineup is going to play hell with opposing pitching staffs. It's not just the LH-RH-LH-RH thing, this batting order is flat out dripping with talent top to bottom, and then you have a bunch more power and high OBP guys available on the bench.Combine that with the pitching staff and management, it's looking pretty intimidating for whoever they'll be playing.

  7. natsfan1a - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Good point on the honkball, Eddie. I guess I haven't seen any of their games because of the timing.Thanks, Faraz, but I was quoting Mark there.

  8. Doc - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Thanks for the quote from Teddy Ballgame, SlowPitch63.Haven't read the book, but I'm sure the things that Williams said about hitting still resonate.Be interesting to know which Nats have read it. Kinda think that JWerth may be one of the books' fans.

  9. SlowPitch63 - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Doc,I recommend the book highly. He discusses and illustrates the physical swing and, of course, goes into depth on the mental aspect of the game. My copy, bought long ago, cost $9.95.Yes, everything he said is still applicable. Let's Play Two!

  10. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Interesting. I find I take the first comment 95% of the time, even when it is right in my wheelhouse.

  11. Candide - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Phil Wood suggesting on MASN Sports Report that Zimm could start season on the DL if we don't see him playing infield soon.

  12. UnkyD - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Chill, Phil…..

  13. NatsLady - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Rendon was cut (will start the season in AA), so that makes me think they plan on RZ to start the season at 3B. He might not be playing full games, though. Lombo taking more reps today at 3B (lineup was posted on Twitter).

  14. JD - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    NL, The plan all along was to have Zim start playing 3rd on the 18th. He is taking full infield practice and his shoulder is fine. This is a non issue.

  15. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Rendon will be playing 2nd, Short, and 3rd base in Harrisburg according to Rizzo. I think there is 20 teams that Rendon would be a starting infielder right now.How nice to have a player like that who can come up if needed.

  16. NatsLady - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    JD, that's what I think, too. Not sure where Phil Wood is getting this.

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Candide, where did you get this Phil Wood quote?

  18. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Somebody sure doesn't follow Nats baseball if they are saying something's wrong with Zim. He's been fine in morning infield drills and throwing overhand, side arm, and submarine style without any problems for almost 2 weeks now.Where does this crap come from?

  19. NCNatsie - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Rendon is not ready for prime time as a defensive infielder. So he needs reps, which means he needs to be in the minors. I think he is equally inadequate at all three positions, and since the main need for him would be in case of injury at any of the three starters, I guess the best plan would be to give him some reps at all. Although if Desi were to go down, surely Espi would move to SS, so I'm not sure why Rendon needs to work there. Of course, we always have Lombo, and we always underestimate him.

  20. Joe Seamhead - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    I was talking to Phil yesterday at Space Coast and he never mentioned any such thing.

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    NCNatsie, I've thought the same thing wondering why Rendon has played some SS since Espi would slide over to SS if something happened to Desi.Possibly Rizzo is doing some showcasing of Rendon's talent. His stock has to have shot through the roof this Spring to Top 10 position players in terms of prospects.

  22. Section 222 - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    This "crap" comes from 6 years of problems with his throwing (see my comment from a few days ago) and the fact that he had off season surgery on his shoulder. I certainly won't argue with people who say he looks good in practice, and I have no idea why Phil Wood would say what he did since it has been public knowledge for quite some time that Zim will take the field on March 18. But until he successfully uncorks an on target, overhand throw across the diamond in a game situation, it's sure not a non-issue.

  23. Candide - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Ghost – saw it on Mid-Atlantic Sports Report this morning. It was almost a throwaway line – he just mentioned it in passing, and nobody followed up on it. Can't find it on MASN's site, but evidently the show is going to be re-broadcast at 12:30 today.FWIW, everything else about Zimm was that he was taking infield practice and we should expect to see him playing on the field this week. So, probably, WTF, Phil?

  24. JD - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Ghost, I think Zim,Desmond and Espi are all ahead of Rendon right now as far as major league readiness is concerned so there is no full time job for him at this stage anyhow. This is fine because it can't but help his development to go down and play everyday in 'AA'. Everyone here thinks his bat is ready now but I saw him in person and when facing veteran major league pitching he was not overwhelming. I know some posters are anxious to rate him over Harper and Zim and he may eventually be in that class. All I am saying is; patience everyone.

  25. sjm308 - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    There is no news here with Rendon being sent down. It was never suggested by anyone in the FO or Davey that Rendon would make the big club out of spring training. It would not surprise me, as much as many on here want him up sooner than later to see him spend the majority of this season working on playing a full season, staying healthy and continuing to learn the other positions. How great to have this kind of talent just waiting to make a splash. I trust NatsJack on the Zimm situation. I still remember the comments on here about Ramos favoring his leg/knee and the very next day reading real articles on how well Ramos ran.

  26. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    The "crap" comment was directed at the "start the year on the DL", not so much the concern with how Zim will look in actual game conditions.To that extent, I'm like you, 222. I"m not totally convinced his origiinal throwing problems weren't a product of the yips and then exascerbated by the shoulder problem. Maybe the shoulder has always been barking at him but his original problem only seemed to surface on the hard hit ball right at him where he had plenty of time to throw.I'm looking forward to seeing a normal throwing motion in game situations so starting next Monday I will be watching closely.But so far, his throws have appeared normal and with alot more steam behind them than previously seen.

  27. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Where does this crap come from? You have to wonder. I found this interesting that Rizzo brought up in an interview yesterday that he signed Michael Gonzalez last March. It was in response to a question as to whether the roster was set. I guess you can't read too much into it except that Rizzo is always full of surprises.The team still hasn't had anyone claim the 6th starter spot. Chris Young really needs to step it up. Again, if he is viable, I could see him make the roster as the long-man in the pen which frees up Davey more with Zach Duke, but I still don't know if Young has earned it.

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    JD, I'm with you on Rendon. There is no rush now. It would be good news if we don't see him in DC until Sept 1.

  29. JD - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Ghost, Chris Young – I don't think so. I think he either goes to Syracuse and starts every 5th day or catches on with someone else. Unless something dramatic happens I think Henry takes the last spot based on no options left. I think Henry might be in a good place this year because he will be the 12th pitcher on the staff and he will likely be put in non stress situations most of the time; since I think his problem is mostly mental this is a good last opportunity to gain some confidence.

  30. Avar - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Love the point of this article. Span-Werth-Harper is going to leave tons of runs to drive in for Zimm and ALR. I love the combo of strong OBP and speed that the top 3 have. How many extra bases will those guys take? They are going to wreck havoc on teams. Love that we start w/ the lowly fish Opening Day. Can't get here fast enough.btw – agree Zim is fine, he starts 3/31, nothing to see here folks.

  31. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Wilson Ramos will go a full 9 in a game next week according to Davey.

  32. Get Some Players - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Yesterday on MASN Sports it was trash the Nationals day. Phil Wood was not in studio and the two Baltimore boys, Tom Davis and Dave Johnson, went on the attack. Johnson said that Gio should be irate over the fact he is not starting the home opener and how dare the Nats treat him like that.

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    JD, again, Chris Young has to earn it. He has 3 more starts to prove he can and he can show it today.Agreed, like I said last week its Henry's spot to lose.

  34. Doc - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Back to Teddy BallGames' book, SlowPitch63. Think I'll check out Amazon used books and see what's available.I've always thought that pichin' was more of a complicated exercise than hittin'. The Babe, of course, was great at both—not that he'd ever of written a book about it. LOLThe few times that I've watched ARen, it appears that he does an AB much as you quoted the passage in the book. It's ******* amazing how many hits this guy gets on 0-2. I'll bet that there are not many hitters that keep the bat in the hitting zone as long as Rendon. Williams would like all our Nats' hitters, but none more than Rendon.

  35. Mac - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Has a MLB player ever been put on the DL with a case of the yips?

  36. Section 222 - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Thanks NJ. When I went back to look at the reporting over the years, it was amazing how many times people on the team and Zim himself said that the problem was fixed. So I'm beyond trusting them at this point. I'm even beyond "Trust, but verify." It's now just "verify." And that means actual games, not infield practices. So I'm looking forward to your reports on March 18 and beyond.

  37. Section 222 - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    I'd love to hear some of our Insiders who saw them both down in Florida compare the swings of Harper and Rendon. Sounds like they are both going to be outstanding MLB hitter, but have very different approaches.

  38. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Get Some Players said… Yesterday on MASN Sports it was trash the Nationals day. Phil Wood was not in studio and the two Baltimore boys, Tom Davis and Dave Johnson, went on the attack. Johnson said that Gio should be irate over the fact he is not starting the home opener and how dare the Nats treat him like that. March 14, 2013 10:31 AM Sickening! I swear when I hear stuff like that it reminds me on a much smaller scale of the Cold War propoganda machine. Using Pravda (the old national Russian newspaper where Pravda translates to Truth) to spread lies to keep the Russians hating the Americans.Feels the same way with ole MASN Baltimore. The subtle reminders from Gary Thorne of the evil people in DC how they treat their players like garbage and the DC arrogance. It doesn't take much with some people to convince them otherwise.Still hard to forget Gary Thorne going off on a tangent and bashing Rizzo and Nats ownership on how they disrespected Stephen Strasburg. It was a loud empassioned rant but just another reminder of how bad the Nats people are.I never hear the MASN Washington people ever say anything negative about Baltimore.

  39. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Mac said… Has a MLB player ever been put on the DL with a case of the yips? March 14, 2013 10:39 AM Yes, sort of. They call it anxiety issues but its been rare. Generally players with yips like Knoblauch and Ankiel become outfielders.Its so much more common in younger levels of High School and younger.

  40. JD - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Sec222, Harper has a harder swing and generates more power . Rendon has a sweet line drive gap power swing (reminds me of Bill Madlock). His swing is less likely to produce many strikeouts or long slumps. It's a bit hard to compare because Harper started all the games and faced other teams top pitchers (Shelby Miller,Sanabia,Maholm) while Rendon usually came in when the other teams where using their minor league pitchers. I think there is no question that Rendon will hit at star levels if he can stay healthy.

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Section222, Rendon and Harper have 2 different swings, different leverage, extension. Harper is so strong. I will tell you that in all of my years of watching hitters that I've never seen a player like Harper that throws his hands at the ball like he does. His bat speed gets an exponential boost in the last 10 inches of his swing by doing that.Rendon is amazing at turning his bottom hand near contact and centering balls on the barrel so well. It takes amazing bat control and hand eye coordination.The similarities I see between the 2 batters is how well they are able to allow the ball to travel further in to the zone where they use that quick bat speed to take the ball oppo.

  42. JD - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    I heard Linda Cohn interview Stras yesterday morning and after he left she proceeded to bash the Nats shutdown of Stras saying it was ridiculous. What I like about Rizzo is that he doesn't give a s*it what anyone thinks; he has a plan, he believes in his plan and he sticks to it. I also heard CC Sabathia on the topic; he told Mike Greenberg that he attributes his longevity and the ability to pitch 200+ innings every year to to the Indians development staff which did exactly what the Nats did early in his career.

  43. Doc - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Linda Cohn otta stick to something that she knows about—whatever that is??

  44. Les_in_NC - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    it isn't just Linda Cohn, ESPN enjoys taking shots at the Nats for the "Strasburg handling".

  45. SonnyG10 - Mar 14, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said…Section222, Rendon and Harper have 2 different swings, different leverage, extension. Harper is so strong. I will tell you that in all of my years of watching hitters that I've never seen a player like Harper that throws his hands at the ball like he does. His bat speed gets an exponential boost in the last 10 inches of his swing by doing that.Rendon is amazing at turning his bottom hand near contact and centering balls on the barrel so well. It takes amazing bat control and hand eye coordination.The similarities I see between the 2 batters is how well they are able to allow the ball to travel further in to the zone where they use that quick bat speed to take the ball oppo.March 14, 2013 10:55 AMSpot on, Ghost. The only thing I would add is Harper has amazing body control with those violent swings such that he keeps perfect balance. Harp also can adjust his approach amazingly well. By that I mean he could swing smooth as silk, swing violently, or punch the ball oppo boppo style. Rendon is mostly smooth as silk from what little I have seen. I love that we have both these guys on the Nats.

  46. ehay2k - Mar 20, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    This town has had a few well-known overeating athletes: John "Hot Plate" Willams, Fat Albert Haynesworth are two prime examples of high talent where the low metabolism/fuel ratio made them play well below their capabilities.So, I just hope Harper doesn't go all Dmitri Young on us now that he has the Burrito card! (and yes, I now-not-so-secretly want one!)

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