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Nats vs. Marlins (ss) — 3/22/14

Mar 22, 2014, 9:21 AM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

VIERA, Fla. — Doug Fister was among the most impressive players in camp for about three weeks. But then the right-hander experienced elbow inflammation after his first start of the spring and he’s spent the last 20 days working way back.

Today, though, Fister returns to the mound for a Grapefruit League game, scheduled to throw three innings and 45 pitches against the Marlins. He won’t exactly be facing Miami’s best, since it’s a split-squad lineup, but the results are much less important than his ability simply to complete his three innings of work in good health.

“I want him to be healthy and I want him to feel good,” manager Matt Williams said. Results are not important right now for him. Just that he makes it to that pitch count and feels good going into tomorrow.”

After giving his regulars yesterday off, Williams has just about everybody back playing today. And he’s got Ian Desmond once again hitting second, which certainly looks like his plan to open the season. The 3-4-5 arrangement remains a work-in-progress, though, with Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper all getting shots at all spots.

Updates to come, so please check back…

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. MIAMI MARLINS (ss)
Where:
Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: None
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM
Weather: Sunny, 77 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF

NATIONALS
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Doug Fister

MARLINS (ss)
LF Jake Marisnick
2B Donovan Solano
1B Jeff Baker
CF Marcell Ozuna
RF Reed Johnson
3B Ty Wigginton
C Jeff Mathis
SS Juan Diaz
RHP Henderson Alvarez

1:06 p.m. — We are underway as Doug Fister fires a fastball low for ball one to Jake Marisnick.

1:12 p.m. — A solid first inning back for Fister. He did give up a leadoff single to Marisnick, but it was a grounder through the right-side hole. He also hung a curveball to Jeff Baker, but the wind kept the ball in the park and it was caught by Bryce Harper at the warning track. More importantly, Fister threw 11-of-14 pitches for strikes, showed good command of his sinker and struck out Marcell Ozuna on a curveball.

1:25 p.m. — Another solid inning for Fister. He did plunk Reed Johnson in the thigh to open the second but quickly rebounded to get a 6-4-3 double play out of Ty Wiggintin (with Danny Espinosa showing off a nice turn at second base). Fister then struck out Jeff Mathis with a nasty, 3-2 curveball. He’s not perfect sharp, but he’s looked pretty good so far: 25 pitches, 16 strikes through two scoreless innings.

1:34 p.m. — A couple of nice pieces of hitting from the Nats in the bottom of the second. Wilson Ramos and Adam LaRoche each rapped opposite-field base hits with two outs, with LaRoche poking a double down the left-field line. Espinosa tried to go the other way, also, but wound up flying out to left to end the inning. Still 0-0.

1:42 p.m. — And that should probably do it for Fister. He goes three scoreless innings on 40 pitches (26 strikes). He allowed two soft, opposite-field hits to Marisnick and grazed Johnson with that pitch in the second. He also struck out three and overall looked pretty good for a guy making his first appearance in 20 days. Assuming he says his elbow feels fine, you’ve got to say this was a major positive development for Fister and the Nats.

1:55 p.m. — And the Nats take a 1-0 lead thanks to a pair of opposite-field singles by Span and Desmond, the kind of hits that are usually called “a nice piece of hitting.” Which begs the question, why isn’t it just called “nice hitting?” Anyways, with runners on second and third and one out, Werth lined a ball right at Johnson in right field, who flat-out dropped the ball. That brought home an unearned run and gives the Nats a 1 -0 lead. And, actually, Fister is back out for the top of the fourth. So maybe he’ll get to face another batter or two and reach his 45-pitch count for the day.

2:02 p.m. — Indeed, Fister got to face two more batters, inducing a groundball to short and then striking out Ozuna looking at a sinker to end a very strong afternoon. His line: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 47 pitches, 32 strikes. Chris Young now in from the bullpen.

2:38 p.m. — Just got back from the clubhouse, where Doug Fister was pleased with his first outing. Most importantly, he said his arm felt fine and he’s confident he’ll be ready to start the season on-time. It’s still 2-0 Nats, now in the bottom of the sixth.

2:51 p.m. — Rafael Soriano entered for the seventh, and immediately hung a 2-2 slider to Ozuna, who crushed the ball to left-center for a solo homer. Not a good pitch, obviously. To his credit, Soriano composed himself and then retired three in a row, striking out both Johnson and Mathis. So it’s 2-1 Nats at the stretch.

2:56 p.m. — Whoa, back-to-back homers for the Nats in the bottom of the seventh. LaRoche went opposite-field — yes, opposite-field — and put one over the fence in left. With some help from the wind. Espinosa needed no help on his bomb to right-center, though. That ball was crushed. No cutting down on his swing there, folks. It’s 4-1 Nats now.

3:07 p.m. — Rough inning of relief for Ross Detwiler. He served up a two-run double to Donovan “Don’t Call Me Onion” Solano off the left-field wall. Harper then fired the ball 320 feet to the plate, allowing Solano to take third. Which proved costly, because Detwiler then got a fly ball to deep center, bringing the runner home and tying this game 4-4 in the eighth. If Harper doesn’t overthrow the cut-off man, Solano never gets to third base and thus can’t score. I’ll be interested to hear what Matt Williams says afterward.

3:25 p.m. — A rough at-bat for Harper in the bottom of the eighth with a chance to tie the game. He took a pair of called strikes from Archimedes Caminero, then flailed at an offspeed pitch to strike out and let out a very loud expletive as he walked back to the dugout. The good news: Ramos delivered the go-ahead double moments later, putting the Nats up 5-4 as Michael Gonzalez enters in the save situation.

3:37 p.m. — And Gonzalez blows the save. It’s now 5-5 as we go to the bottom of the ninth.

3:41 p.m. — Holy cow! Espinosa with his second homer of the day, this one to the opposite field! Nats win 6-5.

  1. natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Espinosa batting 8th. Management going to great lengths to put Danny in as the starter.

    Lesson #1: Rizzo is going to extremes to prove a point. Espi could be the starter on OD at 2nd base.

    This Desi in the #2 and Bryce at the #5 is going against all stats available and the Desi stats are large in scope.

    • Jb - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      Per Kilgore, Rendon is out a few days with a chest cold. Upside to that: if he loses the 2b job he can get work as a Soviet leader.

      • Attitude of Natitude - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM

        Agreed on Desi batting second not being a great idea. He loses a lot of pop and doesn’t make up for it with a high OBP. If MW ends up batting him second, I think it reinforces my hunch that he’ll be a more modern, stats-oriented manager than Davey (a low bar indeed) — but he’s no Billy Beane. Further evidence is him batting Span leadoff. MW is still relatively old school, though a breath of fresh air compared to Davey’s swing-for-the-fences mentality. Which for the record was incredibly fun to watch when everything was clicking. And incredibly painful when it wasn’t.

      • sjm308 - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        I didn’t know Billy Beane managed the A’s?
        This is not a perfect team and except for Span, who would you have leading off?
        Werth has stated he wants to hit in the middle of the lineup and he deserves to let the manager what he feels after his last two years.
        You honestly don’t have a true leadoff man except for Span and we just have to hope we see the Span from the last half of the year, not the first half.
        As for Desmond, I think all of us arm chair guys see him better in the 5 or 6 spot. Not sure why Williams doesn’t look at Rendon there but maybe after he gets well he will get a few opportunities there.
        Agree with you totally about Davey, it was fun when it worked but hard to take when failing.

        Go Nats!

      • Attitude of Natitude - Mar 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        I agree: whether Span qualifies as the mythical True Leadoff Hitter depends a lot on which Span we see. First Half Span’s .327 OBP is pretty unacceptable, enough so that doing something crazy like hitting Span ninth, Harper first, then Rendon second, with Zim, Werth, and Desi following might make sense. Get Harper those ABs. That said, if Span gets on base at his career .350 clip, that’s good enough. It may come down to how optimistic you are on Span’s bat and eye at the plate — I’m a bit more pessimistic than some. But who knows, maybe Schu really did work some magic on him, or he adjusted to tough NL pitching. The best thing: we’ll get to find out really soon — baseball returns to the District in one week! And my wife and I just moved to a new place that’s about 100 feet from Nats Park — could hear the National Anthem tryouts from our living room.

      • Attitude of Natitude - Mar 22, 2014 at 11:58 AM

        I should add: Span’s glove in CF makes me want him somewhere in our lineup even if he hits considerably worse than First Half Span.

      • zmunchkin - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        Davey was one of the first baseball managers (and players) to look at and factor in advanced stats. There was a story a few years ago about how he drove Earl Weaver crazy by always coming with stats and reasons to do things a little differently.

      • zmunchkin - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        If you Google “Davey Johnson sabermetrics” you get a lot of hits. Here is just one:

        http://www.masnsports.com/the_goessling_game/2011/07/talking-statistics-with-davey-johnson-part-2.html

        If you want to criticize Davey as a manager, there are reasons that are fact based. You don’t need to make stuff up.

        And, yea, count me as someone who liked Davey, and how he turned the team around, but I acknowledge he could have done a better job in 2013.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      I don’t get this “proving a point” business.

      Proving what? To whom?

      Best 25 don’t go north? Don’t think we can’t jerk you around, Anthony, because we can?

      • natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        Hairston is going North and the unfortunate ones are going Way North (Syracuse).

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:54 AM

        Right – so with Hairston, he already has “Best 25 Don’t Go North” covered.

  2. Section 222 - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    With the exception of Werth and Zim possibly flipping, and Rendon playing 2nd, this sure seems like the lineup that Williams likes. I’m not sure why you’d put the trigger happy Desi behind the potential base stealer Span, and I’d rather see Harper batting 3rd for 4th, but I’m not going to obsess about it. It’s a stacked lineup and I’m glad he’s moving Ramos up.

    This may be the biggest spring game of the season as we finally get to see Fister on the mound again. It could go a long way toward telling us if he’s going to be ready to start April 4 or 6. If not, there will be some interesting decisions to be mde.

    • Section 222 - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      Oh, and I forgot to say:

      Go Blue!

      • natsfan1a - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        So, we’re rooting for the umpires now? ;-)

      • Section 222 - Mar 22, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        Haha! Touche. But we’re shooting the lights out in the first half.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      +1 on seeing Fister.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        And by seeing, I mean Mark sees him and reports, which I listen on the radio.

      • Eric - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        +1 more re: Fister. Cautiously psyched!

  3. ArVAFan - Mar 22, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Anyone considering this?

    http://wapc.mlb.com/cutfour/2014/03/21/69809654/the-syracuse-chiefs-will-give-lifetime-tickets-for-tattoo

    If the Nationals were offering that, I might consider it (as long as the tattoo didn’t have to be too big, and the seats were somewhere I wanted to sit). And then again, I might not, because my spouse might have a fit.

    • sjm308 - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      I have been talking about a tatoo for the last 15 years and totally chicken out when presented the opportunity. I am jealous of what Natsjack had done and it would be a slam dunk for me if offered season tickets for life. Hell, I might do it for just one years worth. If I got the Nationals tatoo I would opt for the one I have always wanted which is a Celtic Cross on my upper back shoulder and get two. Just dreaming here because the Lerners would never offer this.

      Go Nats!!

    • natsfan1a - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      I will not be getting a tattoo, team-related or otherwise.

  4. ehay2k - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    I will not get a team tattoo, for the simple reason this is a business first. There are more Dan Snyders and and Jeffy Lurias and Jerry Joneses out there, and you knew know when the ownership will change hands. I once considered a Skins tattoo. Whew!

    • ehay2k - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      …you never know…

      Really need delete and edit features on blog comments Mark.

    • zmunchkin - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      Smart NON-move. :-).

      • ehay2k - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        Easy to say now, but back during Gibbs 1, with Rypien, Monk, Riggo, Green et al, it seems almost like a no- brained. Then “The Squire” died, and the the rest is history.

  5. zmunchkin - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Mark,

    I would like to echo ehay2k’s comment about editing our own comments. And I know lots of other folks have asked about this.

    I believe you are using the WordPress blogging platform. If so, this link indicates that it should be easy to allow that:

    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6456247/wordpress-allowing-commenters-to-edit-there-own-comments

    HTH.

    • Mark Zuckerman - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Thanks, guys. I didn’t think there was a way to have an editing comments function on here. I’ll check that out when I get some free time.

    • NatsLady - Mar 22, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      This writer should have edited “THEIR” own comments. ;)

    • natsfan1a - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      Cool, thanks. Would be great to have a self-edit function again, if it can be worked out.

  6. David Proctor - Mar 22, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Fister looking good so far. 2 innings, 1 hit, 1 HBP, 2 strikeouts.

  7. David Proctor - Mar 22, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    Fister’s (probably) final line: 3IP, 2H, 1 HBP, 3Ks, 0 runs. 40 pitches. Threw all his pitches.

    • veejh - Mar 22, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Not bad, not bad. The most important thing is no setback.

      • David Proctor - Mar 22, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Fister back out for the fourth, so he must be feeling good.

  8. natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Great listening to the Fister start! Hoping for him to feel great tomorrow when he wakes up.

    • Eric - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      Indeed!

  9. David Proctor - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Harper doubles, moves to third on a ball in the dirt, scores on a sac fly by Ramos.

  10. natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Ramos continues as the RBI machine.

    • veejh - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Mr. RBI

  11. ehay2k - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    Soriano vying for the Mr. RBI title?

  12. natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Harper with some hits which gets him off the schneid and Soriano continues on his rollercoaster.

  13. ehay2k - Mar 22, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    This looks like the ALR from 2012. And Espi from his rookie year!

  14. ehay2k - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Am very encouraged to hear we have so many guys now hitting the opposite way. Seems like last few years, we too often hit into the shift. Maybe because we were swinging for the power pull shot? At any rate, this seems like a good harbinger of things to come.

  15. philipd763 - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    The Nats should be very concerned about their closer situation. Soriano isn’t going to cut it.

    • David Proctor - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      In 2010, Soriano had an ERA of over 11 in the Spring. In the regular season, he had an ERA of under 2 and saved 45 games. There are reasons to be concerned about Soriano, but relax.

  16. Eric - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Ramos is the freaking man. Awesome.

  17. natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Mr RBI delivers again!!!!

    • veejh - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      +1

      • natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        Espi with his own Bang Zoom day. Walkoff!

  18. veejh - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    Espinosa hit a HR today?

    • Eric - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      Yes

      • Eric - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Twice!!! Woo!

  19. David Proctor - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Mike Gonzalez not having the most exciting spring.

  20. David Proctor - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Espi with an opposite field walk-off home run. His second of the day.

    • veejh - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      I just saw a pig fly by.

  21. zmunchkin - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    And Espi just hit another one. A WO as the lead-off hitter in the bottom of the 9th.

    Can the comments about Espi is not a MLB quality player now be put to an end?

    • natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      You have to like it!

      • nats128 - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:45 PM

        Its great if he had that short compact swing. If it was Danny swinging out of his cleats against a AAA guy with that long looper swing Im not as happy. Any eyes on how he was swinging today.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        In that instance as the home team with a tie game and not a 2 strike count that is fine. Woukdnt you agree?

    • Doc - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      Espi always has been a quality player.

      He just didn’t act like it in the batters’ box lots of times–particularly the left side of the plate.

      The Future??? ARen moves to third, the improving Danny takes back second, and Zim takes over 1B.

      • veejh - Mar 22, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Be careful what you wish for.

  22. natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Update:

    Ramos .382
    Rendon .344
    Span .317
    ALR .297
    Werth .292
    TyMo .273
    RZim .273
    Carroll .250
    Desi .242
    Kobe .233
    Hairston .212
    Espi .214
    Harp .206
    MCLouth .185
    Lobaton .120

    • zmunchkin - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Rizzo was interviewed by Charlie and Dave today and they asked him how BA and the related numbers are used to make decisions in ST. He basically said that they aren’t that important, giving as the example that a swinging bunt is not nearly as impressive as a hard hit line drive caught by the SS.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 22, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Absolutely in small sample sizes. Harp is an example of that but Ramos is hitting legit for his BA.

        I think much if the BA is also on who you are facing and at what point in the season.

        McLouth has been awful. Poor swings is what I’ve heard. He has 9 days to get out of his slump.

        I kind of think Rizzo’s remarks were a gratuitous statement for Espinosa’s benefit. Small sample size even to this point. A 4-4 day and his BA soars. Espinosa has made this team fairly. It will be real performances on March 31st and beyond which will determine his future.

  23. sjm308 - Mar 22, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    I agree with GoNat and we are not certain, once the real games start what role Espinosa will play but he did make the team fairly with his outstanding defense and the ability to play both SS and 2nd. Last year he came out of ST really hot but cooled immediately and never recovered. I am guessing he starts on the bench and I wonder how that will play. I hope Williams gives him some spot duty to keep him fresh but I also hope that Rendon shows Williams that he is an elite hitter and makes a real case for being someone we can hang our hats on for a long long time.

    Go Nats!

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 73 53 --
ATLANTA 67 61 7.0
MIAMI 63 63 10.0
NEW YORK 60 68 14.0
PHILADELPHIA 56 71 17.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Giants at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Giants at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Giants at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Nats at Phillies, 7:05 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.

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