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Nats vs. Braves — 3/4/14

Mar 4, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

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Yes, it’s the Grapefruit League, and it’s March 4, but today’s game in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is about as good as exhibition baseball is going to get. The Nationals and Braves meet for the second time in four days, and each lineup is stocked with big names.

Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos and Anthony Rendon all made the trip from Viera and will get to take their hacks against Atlanta right-hander Kris Medlen. Fredi Gonzalez, meanwhile, filled out a lineup card that might not be all that different from the one he submits on Opening Day in four weeks (minus the DH, of course).

And topping it all off, Stephen Strasburg is on the mound for the Nationals, making his first start of the spring (and his first start since offseason surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow). Good stuff all around.

As you probably know by now, I’m back home in snowy D.C. for two weeks, so no live updates. But please keep up the conversation here as always…

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Disney’s Wide World of Sports, Lake Buena Vista
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EST
TV: None
Radio: MLB.com (Braves’ feed)
Weather: Partly cloudy, 74 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to CF

NATIONALS
RF Nate McLouth
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
C Wilson Ramos
2B Anthony Rendon
DH Danny Espinosa
CF Brian Goodwin
(RHP Stephen Strasburg)

BRAVES
RF Jason Heyward
CF B.J. Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
C Evan Gattis
DH Justin Upton
3B Chris Johnson
2B Dan Uggla
SS Andrelton Simmons
LF Logan Schafer
(RHP Kris Medlen)

  1. sjm308 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    For an away game, this is a lot of veteran talent.

    If you put Span in the lead off spot
    Move Werth into the #5
    It could very well be our opening day lineup as well

    Looking for two nice easy innings from SS and not looking forward to hearing those bozo’s from the Braves but it’s better than nothing.

    That $2.99/month for the mlb at bat or whatever its called is a terrific deal. Can’t wait to see if it works in Italy on this years trip.

    Go Nats!!

  2. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    MLB AT-BAT, don’t leave home without it!

    • NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      Me’n At-Bat are leaving home right now… (sigh)… work.

  3. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    If you are on Twitter or Instagram, follow @craigcalcaterra, he is taking lots of pictures & had a nice writeup of Matt Williams. He’s being very polite today considering he’s a Barves fan.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/03/04/matt-williams-pro-stats-pro-eyes-pro-everything/

    http://instagram.com/p/lIDvmhNi_7/

  4. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Espinosa with a K but on the pitch before the K he didn’t swing at the high fastball.

    Medlen is dealing today.

    • scnatsfan - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      The sad part is if Danny doesn’t play well enough to make the team – much more of a possibility then him beating out Rendon to start – then he returns to the minors and his trade value is next to nothing. For someone who was as highly regarded as he was it would be a far fall from grace, unthinkable for someone as young as he is 2 years ago.

  5. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    If you are interested in joining the Nats Fitness Program, check out the pushups to date . Rules are 1 pushup for every run if the Nats win, double if the Nats lose.

    http://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2014/03/fun-and-pushups-1.html

  6. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Wish I could see what RZ “bobble” consisted of. Apparently not enough to be scored an error.

    • David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      It was a slow roller that he tried to charge with the barehand. Can’t give an error on that, even though that’s his best play. Minor league field caused the bobble, I assume.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        In the inning before they noted Zimmerman was playing up on the grass. Could be because it was a speedy runner or could be Zim is trying to find his comfort zone.

  7. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Sounds like Strasburg with good work and Taylor Jordan with plenty of groundballs with a defensive gem from Rendon on Heyward.

  8. natsfan1a - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    Thanks for the game thread, Mark.

    Just fired up my Gameday audio for the first time. Yay!

  9. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    Ramos loves his RBI opportunities.

  10. David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Taylor Jordan being hit around here some.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      The first 2 found holes. The next 2 hit harder. Oh well. Taylor is as good as BABIP working into his favor.

      • David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        That’s why I’m a pitch-to-strikeout guy and not a pitch-to-contact guy. Contact makes you at the mercy of the BABIP gods. No BABIP in a K.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        That’s true but Taylor just K’d 2 in that inning. His style is groundball outs. It’s weak contact he needs. He didn’t get that. McCatty comes out to settle him down and gets through the inning.

  11. David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    Ramos throws out Upton stealing and then Jordan freezes Uggla with a slider for a called third strike. Now that I like.

  12. NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    McCatty again. What DOES he say out there?

    • natsfan1a - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Breathe through your eyelids.

      • DaveB - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        Suggestions for good wedding gifts

      • Doc - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Sorta what I was thinking, DaveB.

        As a prelude to that, something to the effect that ‘my daughter is looking for the right guy, wad are you doing after the game’?

  13. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    Desi 3/4 the way to the cycle.

  14. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Braves announcers without Don Sutton today just throwing many compliments at the Nats.

    • NatsLady - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      I thought they didn’t sound the same.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:37 PM

        Yah, Lemke in for Sutton. Much nicer

      • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:52 PM

        Oh my, did you hear them giving Kasten a lot of credit for the Nats draft picks. Sure, I know Kasten’a ties to Atlanta but that’s surprising.

  15. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Real solid outing by AJ Cole. That’s 2 in a row and he faced real MLB guys.

  16. ehay2k - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    You can’t predict baseball, but I predict that the Souza, Carroll, Taylor, Sole, Peterson, Hill, Rhymes, Espinosa, Goodwin lineup will never happen in the regular season!

    (Also, am I reading too much into it that Espi is still out there?)

  17. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Nats run that Little League double steal fake to perfection!

    • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      E-4 so Goodwin not credited with the steal I guess.

  18. ehay2k - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    Uggla is already in mid-season form.

  19. Section 222 - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Sounds like an ugly inning for Storen. I hate walks!

  20. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Storen with 2 walks to start his outing then helped by Uggla on a 3-0 grooved fastball that he just missed.

    Luckily it’s just Spring Training.

  21. David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Matt Williams brings Souza into the infield. 5 man infield.

    • David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      Backfired. Braves hit a flyball right where Souza would’ve been standing…instead, it clears the bases. I’m all for trying that out in the Spring, but if you’re going to do that in a real game, it has to be with a guy you are virtually certain will hit into the shift. Doubt we have that type of info on whoever Phil Gosselin is.

  22. jd - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    David,

    In a real game you only do that if it’s the bottom of the 9th (or extra innings) and if a run wins the game otherwise it’s you take away the chance your offense may have to come back.

    I only hope MW doesn’t do stuff like that in the 8th innings of real games.

    • David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      I doubt he’ll be using that with any regularity. Interesting to see nonetheless.

      • Doc - Mar 4, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        The pitcher has to be able to throw the ball for a grounder; otherwise the manager looks the fool that he was to try it!

  23. ehay2k - Mar 4, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    I hate losing to the Barves, but I keep reminding myself that this is just a ST game, and since it’s early in ST, it’s the one of the least meaningful games of ST. Storen is always working on stuff in ST, so this is what I expect to see from him. Even in his best years, I think he got shelled in ST.

    Wish I could have seen the 5-man infield with my own eyes. Was anyone from NI watching live? I would love to hear their view, especially if the players seemed uncomfortable. I’m sure some stat guru can tell me why it is a good plan but I never have liked bringing in the extra infielder. Perhaps under Williams I will learn to love it.

    • David Proctor - Mar 4, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      You’re normally only going to do it in the 9th inning or later where a fly ball or sac fly can end the game. At that point, it doesn’t matter if the outfielder catches it or not. So it makes sense to sellout for the groundball. However, we’re unlikely to see that scenario in Spring, so Williams probably just wanted to try it.

      Here’s a photo:

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bh6RKe_IUAAPsrl.jpg:large

      • DaveB - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        Looks pretty cool … thx for the pic. Obviously didn’t work this time, but with 2 walks Ayala obviously wasn’t at his sharpest today, and this depends on being able to induce a GB

      • ehay2k - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        Thanks DP. One question though, because I was surprised how close-in they all played – with our strong-armed infielders, can we play back just a bit, which gives us more range and time to react? (NI – could also stand for Nats Instruction!)

  24. DaveB - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    This doesn’t say when it would open, but sounds like folks should enjoy Viera while it lasts:
    http://www.ballparkdigest.com/201403047139/major-league-baseball/news/astros-nats-now-teaming-up-for-new-spring-facility

  25. micksback1 - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    The only real story line of the exhibition season for Nats will be Espinoza. I think we are pretty much set, only other question is 5th starter which I think will be Det and Roark will be in the equation as well. So far, we need to see a larger sample of at bats for Danny, however, I am not optimistic he will ever be a hitter. Perhaps the sooner Nats cut ties with him, the better for all

  26. jd - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    DaveB,

    A new facility will likely take about 3 years especially since they haven’t signed the deal yet.

  27. ehay2k - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    In other news – O’s sign Johan Santana to a minor league contract.

  28. jd - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    mick,

    I disagree. I think there are many question marks left to be answered:

    1) 5th starter.
    2) Last 2 spots in the pen
    3) Tymo/Hairston
    4) Espinosa/Carrol/Fontenot/Walters.
    5) Will Storen be traded?

    I think Espinosa will be given every opportunity to see if he can regain his stroke but I don’t think he’s coming north with the club if he continues to hit the way he hit last year.

    I think similarly that it’s Det’s job to lose (5th starter) but I’m not sure he won’t lose it. I think Jordan took a step back today because if you want to unseat the incumbent you have to be pretty flawless, I don’t think he’s done but he certainly has 1 strike against him.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      Good summation. It will be hard for Rizzo to eat Hairstons $2M but glad you put in #3 as I think that should be a fair tryout for that big RH hairy bat and might as well throw Peterson in there as a long-shot to make it more interesting.

      As bad as TyMo is as a LF, I think he could be better than Hairston who has no arm.

      We always focus on what players did to better themselves in the off-season and I wonder what the bench players were doing.

  29. natinalsgo - Mar 4, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    I think Jamey Carroll could be the player Rizzo and Matty peg as the all everything SS/2B/3B for spot starts which could make Walters and his faulty defense the 25th man.

  30. Joe Seamhead - Mar 5, 2014 at 3:02 AM

    Hey, I am pulling for all our young guys, especially Danny, but it was Anthony Rendon with 3 K’s yesterday. If this is truly a competition, Anthony needs to step it up a notch, too.
    As to pulling in the OFer for a 5 man infield? It didn’t work so it looks pretty dumb.If it had worked out, it would’ve looked brilliant. It would be interesting if someone could show a mathematic probability of the chances of that strategy actually working. I doubt that it would be very high.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 75 57 --
ATLANTA 70 64 6.0
MIAMI 65 67 10.0
NEW YORK 62 72 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 61 72 14.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
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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