Mar 1, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — Pity anyone who was late to arrive, or stuck in the concessions line, at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday afternoon. They might well have missed Jordan Zimmermann’s outing altogether.
Zimmermann wasted no time turning in his two innings of work, facing the minimum six Braves batters and needing only 20 pitches to complete his first start of the spring.
“My day was done before I knew it,” the right-hander said.
Zimmermann was out there long enough to work extensively on his fastball and changeup, each of which he kept down in the zone throughout. That produced exactly the kind of result the Nationals love to see from any of their pitchers: five groundballs induced from six batters.
“It makes us think he’s really using his fastball effectively,” manager Matt Williams said. “His ball sinks. It’s good. He threw well.”
Even the one hit Zimmermann surrendered came via a groundball to the hole at shortstop, with Danny Espinosa’s throw to first just a split-second late. No matter, because he immediately induced a 6-3 double play and then cruised from that point on.
This was the first of six projected spring training starts for Zimmermann, plenty of time for him to build up his arm and innings count in anticipation of the season’s first week. It’s also plenty of time for him to have to face familiar foes.
If he stays on a five-day schedule, Zimmermann will face the Braves again Thursday night in Lake Buena Vista. Knowing that, he admits he needs to be careful in how he approaches the division rival’s lineup.
“Yeah, I don’t want to show them everything I have,” he said. “They basically know what I have anyway, but the (less) they can see it, the better off.”
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