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Big day for Zimmermann, Espinosa, Harper

Mar 25, 2013, 1:00 PM EST

Associated Press
Danny Espinosa is congratulated by Kurt Suzuki after homering.

VIERA, Fla. — A massive line of storms struck Space Coast Stadium in the top of the eighth inning yesterday, sending everyone fleeing for cover and bringing an abrupt halt to the Nationals' 9-3 victory over the Braves. But before we all got to experience the end of the world, there were several highlights.

Such as …

Jordan Zimmermann once again looked mighty sharp on the mound. The right-hander entered this game having not allowed a hit since the very first batter of his previous start, and he didn't allow any today until Andrelton Simmons singled to left in the top of the fourth.

Thus ended a stretch in which Zimmermann recorded 27 outs between allowing hits. Yes, you read that correctly. He essentially threw a no-hitter, spread out among two games.Read more »

  1. baseballswami - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Soon, very soon. Can't wait!

  2. Positively Half St. - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    I hope that the Nats' crazy run of lucky roster moves continues with Chris Young pitching well and yet still accepting a trip to Syracuse for the Nats. If that does not occur, I will be interested to see how Rizzo fills the last two spots on the 40-man roster.+1/2St.

  3. NCNatsie - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Sincere thanks to all the Insiders who showed up yesterday at Duffy's Irish Grill to participate in the Nats Insider Chorus recording of "Let's All Cheer for the Washington Nats."Waddu Eye No, Nats Lady, Section 222, Ron in Reston, MJR and several other Nats fans did a fantastic job — some really great voices there. We had an exuberantly fine time, watched the game when we weren't actually recording, and got the raw data on disc. Now its up to me to edit, which I will get busy on this week. Maybe I can get it done in time for the Opening Day festivities.Anyway, thanks guys, you were absolutely great — cast, crew, Duffy our host and his staff, everyone. Most of all Waddu, who put the whole event together, and brought Mrs. Waddu, our accompaniest, and his neice, our videographer. It couldn't have gone better, IMHO!

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    wasn't yesterday's HR aided by wind?

  5. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Hard to say. Danny's was hit hard and more on a line. ALR's was most definitely wind aided but may have gotten out anyway.

  6. Laddie Blah Blah - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Looking forward to seeing JZ this Friday. He was already a top hurler. That change-up could make him the Nats' breakout player of 2013.It could be that shoulder injury was a blessing in disguise for Espinoza. He could only practice his LH swing for most of the winter, and then using only his lead (right) hand. He seems to have grooved that swing, as well as cutting back on the cave man approach to swinging the bat. Maybe even more important, he is seeing the ball a lot better. I've only seen him 8-10 times this spring, but he rarely swings at pitches out of the zone, from the ABs that I saw. Naturally he is going to make better contact if he's not swinging at pitches that land 2 feet in front of home plate.It could be that pitchers are simply not throwing their best stuff at him, saving the high heat and the inside breakers for the regular season. Danny is getting a lot of pitches in the zone this spring. We will see how he does when the bad guys start throwing him breakers off the plate and in the dirt.Funny how some posters dismiss Rendon's boffo performance at every level he has ever played in the Nats organization, as well as everywhere else, except for one bad month when he first moved up to AA. But then they claim Danny is a new man based on his ST stats, and ignore his history of 2+ years in the bigs.I believe what I see, and Rendon is in a class by himself, as far as the Nats are concerned, when it comes to swinging a bat. Espinoza seems to have changed his approach, much for the better, but I want to see him keep it up when the games are played for real. If he keeps it up, then the Nats can afford to keep Rendon at AA until are satisfied he is ready. Actually, I think they believe his bat is ready, right now. Having him learn 3rd, 2nd, and short gives Rizzo the flexibility to play him anywhere he likes, when the time comes. It also gives him the flexibility to make a trade for the long-term benefit of the team. As always, he has plenty of options, but I don't believe trading Rendon is one of them.

  7. NatsJim - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Re-posting from the tail end of yesterday's game thread as it seems appropriate here:NatsJim said…I don't know if Danny's ST success will carry over into April, but it's clear he's put in a lot of work to address his issues. I was critical of his strikeouts and homerun hitter's mentality during the offseason, so I truly respect his attempt to change for the good of the team. And I honestly believe he'll still get roughly the same power numbers with the new approach due to the improved contact rate and his raw strength.March 24, 2013 4:26 PM

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Progress. Good stats Mark.

  9. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    oh ok. hard to tell from highlight I guess all that well for me.

  10. SCNatsFan - Mar 25, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Laddie I agree; Rendon has too much bat not to be playing for this team, eventually. The rub is where. You have to think Zim and Desi are solid and aren't going anywhere; Espi, if he can cut down on his Ks, looks awful solid there and ALR is a lock at 1B, for the moment. I think a reasonable plan is to move RZ to 1st once ALRs contract runs out, assuming that Zim can be an above average first sacker, opening 3B for Rendon – but, despite the prognistication skills of some on this site saying it is a fact, this assumes all stay healthy and all still produce, something no one knows. My take? Rendon spends the year in the minors, learning the infield, staying healthy, putting up good numbers; next year he makes the team and starts to push someone out of a starting job, be it Danny or ALR (or his replacement) while starting the year in a Lombo like role. That's what I think will happen but its no more a fact then Georgetown will beat Florida GC.

  11. Laddie Blah Blah - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    SCNatsFan -I agree in all particulars except that I think Rizzo makes a move this year. He has so many pieces to play with, he is going to use them to better the long-term future of his team. And he is not above making a move for the short-term, either. Suppose, for example, one of the starters goes down with an injury, as Garcia did during spring training. He has some options in the minors, maybe even including Young, assuming Young decides to stick around. But he may find a much better option on the trade market, and he has some very good players to offer in return.Remember, it was not so long ago that he offered not only Espinoza, but also Storen and even Jordan Zimmerman in exchange for Greinke. Thank goodness he didn't make that trade. I don't think he would give up JZ straight up for Greinke now, let alone the other two.Rizzo is not afraid to trade a big name, or even big names, if he thinks it will help the team, long-term, or even short-term. I don't see him trading Ryan, Harper, SS, or Rendon. I don't know, of course, but those are the guys who are the future of the Nats. If JZ pitches as well this year as I think he will, you could probably add him to that list by by year-end.Having Rendon ready to play at so many different IF positions gives Rizzo the opportunity to trade a big piece for a big return, while enhancing the overall ability of the team by plugging in a "replacement" like Rendon for whomever he may decide to trade.Rizzo is a chess master, and he's got so many pieces to play with. Just waiting for his next move.

  12. natsfan1a - Mar 25, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    On a more important note, Nats bobbles were announced on the tweeter:Washington Nationals ‏@Nationals The 2013 #NatsBobbles are @GioGonzalez47, @Bharper3407 and Davey Johnson!

  13. Doc - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Espi proves how hard it is to change a bad batting habit.DeRosa noted his 'leaking' the left shoulder last spring. 1 year later (plus 1 winter and a torn RC) Danny's in the process of over-coming the defective swing.Through all the hard work and determination, he's about to become an All Star 2nd baseman.Desi and Espi—best offensive and defensive middle infield combo in baseball!

  14. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    I assume the foam thumb thing Mark refers to Harper using is one of these gizmos. They do take some getting used to.

  15. peric - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Anthony Rendon is going to play third base. Ryan Zimmerman is going to become a gold glove first baseman where his arm accuracy isn't a critical factor. Mike Rizzo would then have the most athletic, greatest range infield in baseball along with some pretty decent profession hitters. Adam LaRoche is NOT the fielder that Ryan Zimmerman is and will be at any age. And Zim produces just as much power.If you don't think that's Rizzo's plan then you haven't been watching. Why Span? Instead of Morse keeping Harper in CF?Rizzo wants the most athletic lineup he can get. Putting Zim at first and moving Rendon into third accomplishes a good part of that. As for Rizzo making "big moves". Why? Currently, he doesn't have any need except for to find a way to get keep a left-haned bat in the lineup to go with Harper, Span (Goodwin) and the switch hitting Espinosa. That would be the future left or right fielder once Werth is set up in a bench role.

  16. JaneB - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I love how quiet and lethal Jordan is. We all look at Strasburg and The Kid. But he would be The Ace on many other teams.And I agree with Doc: Danny is gonna have his break out year this year, like Ian did last year. The two of them are spectacular together.Hard to believe, looking out the window, that we'll be sitting in our seats a week from this very minute! I can almost taste the hotdog already!

  17. SCNatsFan - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Peric how soon do you see your moves happening?

  18. Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Ah, yes, the 20/20 question,SCNatsFan!

  19. Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    We beat a dead, [for now], horse here. Ryan Zimmerman may move to first. It's a logical progression of his career.Anthony Rendon has played 3rd base since his first year in college, where they moved him to after being an All-State SS in high school. The kid probably could play 3rd, 2nd, or short given the pro training and coaching available to him. Also, Tyler Moore knocks the snot out of the ball, but in comparison to Span, Werth, Harper and Bernadina he is a defensive liability in the outfield, and though he has improved, he doesn't possess the arm to play a MLB corner outfield position. Denard Span is going to be the starting CF in the vast majority of the games this year, and next. Jayson Werth will do likewise in RF. Harper is even more of a given in left. Now, as far as Zimm moving to first, it will not happen before opening day 2015, barring injury. Where does that leave Rendon between now and then? Much depends on him, starting with being able to stay on the field for a whole season, and also showing that he can hit high quality pitching, which I personally don't doubt for a minute that he can. Now, none of what I just wrote is fact, it is only the opinion of a fan who is no better, or worse, then anybody else on this board.Just another Joe Seamhead editorial.

  20. Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Speaking of the real value of Spring Training stats, how would you like to have had the spring only to get your out right release from the Phillies: Yuniesky Betancourt pushed his name into consideration with a torrid spring. He hit .447 (21 for 47) with a 1.025 OPS in 51 plate appearances.

  21. SCNatsFan - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Has to be a bummer for Kobernus and Rosenbaum to be returned to the minors. In their head I bet they think this was their shot. Hope they can mentally keep it together to remain strong prospects.

  22. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Since ALR is signed for two years, and there is no sign yet that his offensive skills will deteriorate to the point of the Nats being willing to eat that second year of salary, I agree that expecting Zim to move across the diamond before 2015 at the earliest is foolish. And a lot can happen between now and then at the other infield positions as well. What do people think of the assumption that Zim would immediately be a gold glove first baseman if and when he makes the move there. He's be great on sharp grounders of course, but is vacuuming up bad throws like ALR does an easily learned skill?

  23. Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Sec 222,I don't think it's as easy as some think. No more then playing the outfield is.

  24. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    JoeS, that's my sense too. Can't help thinking of that scene in Moneyball: Scott Hatteberg: I’ve only ever played catcher.Billy Beane: It’s not that hard, Scott. Tell him, Wash.Ron Washington: It’s incredibly hard.

  26. slidell2 - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    ESPN says Lohse has signed with Brewers for 3yrs./$33M.

  27. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Re: Yunesky Betancourt. Keith Law went on a Twitter tear that spring training is not the period in which to set rosters, rosters should be determined by factors other than ST performance. So, baseically, unless there is an injury, a great spring training record should not change management's mind about a roster, nor should a bad one. Of course, if there is a team with a need, then Betancourt's ST performance is a showcase, just like for Young or Snyder–they were not really aiming for a spot in the Nats' roster. Rather, they were insurance against a spring training injury, and failing that, they will be on their way to another MLB club, not to Syracuse. It is really rare that an MLB player would "settle" for a minor-league spot, and similarly rare for a minor-leaguer (like Rendon) to make the roster out of ST or even closely following ST. Trout and Harper were the exceptions.

  28. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Well, Lohse started out asking for 3/$45MM so that's a bit of a come down. Still, at his age and with the draft pick attached, TAKE the guaranteed money!

  29. MicheleS - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    sounds like Lannan is getting lit up today.

  30. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    And there's this. Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 24sHe's just working on things. RT @jaysonst: Box-score alert: John Lannan has allowed 11 runs & 12 hits in 3-plus IP today – so far

  31. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Drew - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    If he's healthy — granted that's a big "if" I can't imagine the Nats will wait until 2015 to get Rendon's bat in the lineup.Then again, it's not far-fetched to imagine Rizzo making another splashy deal for a pitcher next offseason.If, for instance, Lombo were a piece of such a deal, Walters could become the utility guy and Kobernus could become the next in line at Syracuse. The depth helps.

  33. Mac - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Phillies intrasquad game?

  34. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Nope. Toronto. 12 ER, 14 hits, 2K, 1 BB.

  35. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    With no personal animus toward Lannan, I enjoy seeing nos. like those. Payback for all the people who insisted he was an "ace" operating under cover.

  36. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    The problem was Lannan himself thinking he was an "ace," whereas he was just a sort of OK pitcher on a bad, bad team. If he had been in the farm system of a better team, he would not have come up so fast–which might have been better for him.

  37. UnkyD - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Everybody who insisted LannEn was an 'Ace', raise your hands.

  38. SCNatsFan - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    I don't know of anyone on this board who thought he was an ace; the prevailing argument was if he was servicable as a #5 starter. For awhile he was our ace, just as the Astros will have, by default, an ace this year.

  39. Mac - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    I don't recall anyone ever calling Lannan an ace. Everyone except for the Lannan haters acknowledged that he was and has always been a #4/#5 starter forced to pitch as a #1 on bad teams. That wasn't his fault. As a #4/#5, he has always been more than adequate.

  40. Mac - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    I also don't recall Lannan ever characterizing himself as an "ace." No player needs to apologize for being given an opportunity and performing at it to the best of his ability, and that's what Lannan did.

  41. UNTERP - Mar 25, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    In all fairness, Lannan was the Nationals #1 pitcher. So in his mind, even though the Nats were losing 90 to a hundred games a season during that time, he was an ACE. No question he had a self-inflated opinion of himself, but I don't know of anyone outside of himself who ever thought he was an Ace, King, or Queen for that matter…

  42. Mac - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    There's no automatic equivalence between being the #1 pitcher on a staff and being an "ace." Just because a pitcher acknowledges that he's the #1 on his team doesn't mean he's claiming to be an ace. There's absolutely no evidence that Lannan's opinion of himself was inflated. He knew who he was, and he also knew that although he wasn't one of the best pitchers in the league, he was far from the worst. The Lannan haters here have always had him as a AAAA pitcher, but his actual results show he was far, far better than that.

  43. SCNatsFan - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    For the players, like Lannan, who slogged thru here while this juggernaut was being constructed I will always have a special place in my heart for them; the players who we hoped would be good even though we knoew they weren't. I don't wish any ill will on them, just glad they are no longer here.

  44. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    I was no fan of Lannan, but let's not forget that he came through last year in one of the biggest games of the season. I never had the feeling he had an inflated opinion of himself. He thought he deserved to be in the rotation So what? So did Davey "John's my guy" Johnson until Rizzo laid down the law. He wasn't happy about being demoted after five years of starting for the Nats. I for one would prefer to have players who believe they should be in the bigs and don't meekly accept their fate when they get sent down.It seems petty to rejoice in him having a bad outing. After all, we want him to mow down the Braves, don't we?

  45. Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    Well, it sounds like he was a Jack today, or should I say he got jacked. The Phillies are counting on him this year. Doc hasn't looked too good either, but ST is what it is. I kind of feel bad for teams that have to face the Blue Jays 18 times this year. That's a pretty potent ensamble of hitters they have. Incidentally, the Phillies aren't chopped liver at the plate. They are going to be a pain in the lower extremities in the NL East.

  46. UNTERP - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    Mac, your opinion is noted. I observe human behavior and sometimes I'm wrong, but sometimes I'm right, and my observation of John is that he had a self-inflated opinion of himself. That doesn't mean that I hated him as a player or as a person. I was lukewarm about him at best and thought he would be a good #5 pitcher on a good team…

  47. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Lannan, who will enter the season as the Phillies No. 5 starter, had pitched relatively well up until Monday afternoon's start."For most of the day I was up in the zone and they take advantage," Lannan said. "I got my butt kicked and you move on."In Lannan's previous Grapefruit League outing he pitched five scoreless innings with four strikeouts against the Rays. The lefty was pragmatic about his rocky outing against the Blue Jays. "It's that time of the spring where your arm isn't as quick as it needs to be," he said.About what you would expect him to say. Not sure what that means, "as quick as it needs to be." Is that dead arm?

  48. SCNatsFan - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    If you are a guy who was in the majors and are happy being sent back to AAA and don't feel you should still be in be show then you are the type of player I don't want on the Nats. Lannan, right or wrong, thought he deserved to be in the majors; that's an attitude I want on my players.

  49. UNTERP - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    I actually wanted to see Lannan pitch for the Nationals full time last season, which could have given everyone good insight on him. Pitching on a good team as oppose to all the poor teams he had to endure. That argument will not be settle here. Good luck John, except against the Nationals…

  50. 3on2out - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Mac:I think you nailed it. Lannan was, and is, a journeyman major league starter. Unfortunately, he was forced to pitch out of the number 1 hole for a bad team. He was not, and is not, burdened by an unrealistic self-assessment. He was treated rather shabbily (going from being Davey's "man" to starting every fifth day in Syracuse) last season. But when the chips were down he rose to the occasion and acquitted himself admirably. I wish him success with the Phillies. Sadly, those cretins in Filthadelphia don't deserve him.

  51. Doc - Mar 25, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    Easy to kick a guy when he's down.I always saw Lannan as the kind of everyday pitcher who lacking the quality stuff of some others went out and did his best.Even though EJax has/had better stuff, in the final stats' analysis, I'm not sure he did much more than Lannan could have done.

  52. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    I agree EJax has more "raw" talent, and Lannan uses what talent he has well. But it's difficult to assess your own talent, especially when you don't have anything (except Livo) to compete with you, and measure yourself on a season long basis.

  53. Nattering Nat - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Back to the speculation on Rendon for a moment. I'd say the odds of his being called up for at least part of this year are excellent. In the past two years, who among LaRoche, Espi, Desi, and RZimm have been injured? All of them. If you add Ramos and Flores at C, Werth in RF, and Morse in LF, that's every position player but CF. Last year alone, it was all the above except LaRoche.While Rendon could "only" fill in at 3rd, SS and 2nd, seems to me we will see him sooner rather than later, and that's even if Lombo is first choice to stand in at SS or 2nd. Stuff happens, every year. So, while I'm not a betting man generally, this appears as close to a lock as I can see.

  54. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Even though EJax has/had better stuff, in the final stats' analysis, I'm not sure he did much more than Lannan could have done.I have to disagree. E-Jax in 2012 had 31 starts. In 15 of them he pitched into the 7th inning or longer. He pitched into the 8th 3 times and had a complete game. In 2011, probably Lannan's best year (when he had a 3.70 ERA), he had 33 starts and pitched into the 7th inning or better only 12 times, and only once into the 8th. Although he disappointed us in the playoffs, Jackson ate innings and saved our bullpen on a regular basis during the season. Lannan, whether because of his pitch count or lack of effectiveness didn't. That's why Lannan signed a one year deal for $2.5 million with the Phillies while E-Jax will make $52 million over the next four years with the Cubs.

  55. Doc - Mar 25, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Good job on digging up the stats, triple 2's!You win–slight edge to EJax on innings eatin'.I was mostly going on ERA's, which don't seem to be that much different for Lannan and EJax. Probably EJax had more K's.Interesting to see what happens to EJax in Wrigley. He may eat the innings, along with eating a lot of long balls! LOL

  56. Mac - Mar 25, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    "UNTERP said… Mac, your opinion is noted. I observe human behavior and sometimes I'm wrong, but sometimes I'm right, and my observation of John is that he had a self-inflated opinion of himself."Please elaborate as to specific instances of behavior on his part that lead you to this conclusion. Seriously. And if it's simply a matter of him thinking his performance was worthy of his standing on the Nationals staff, I challenge you to find a player in the majors who doesn't think that way. It's impossible to play at the highest levels of the game if you don't believe in yourself, even (and especially) if no one else does.

  57. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    Doc, I know! Wrigley can be a challenge for any pitcher. I always had a soft spot for E-Jax since I was at that complete game against the Reds in April last year. And I really liked how athletic he was, serving as pinch runner etc. Just sorry he didn't pitch better, especially in the playoffs. You have to wonder if he had thrown a game like Det did in Game 3, or if he had been lights out in Game 5, whether he would have returned.





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