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Nats vs. Mets — 3/23/14

Mar 23, 2014, 10:23 AM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER File Photo Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER File Photo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It’s going to be a warm Sunday afternoon at Tradition Field, where the temperatures are supposed to climb into the upper 80s. So it’s only fitting that the battle for the final spot in the Nationals’ rotation begins to heat up today, with Tanner Roark getting perhaps his last chance to make a case to win the job.

Roark gets the start against nearly the entire Mets regular lineup, a good test for the young right-hander. Taylor Jordan starts tomorrow against the Marlins, so Roark would certainly like to put forth a strong outing today and perhaps put some pressure on Jordan before he takes the mound tomorrow.

Most of the Nationals’ regulars are here as well, with a little different look to the lineup today. Bryce Harper hits second, with Ian Desmond down in the 6-spot where he’s had so much success the last two seasons. They’ll be facing right-hander Jenrry Mejia first, then old pal John Lannan, who is battling for a spot on the Mets’ roster, either as their No. 5 starter or out of the bullpen.

Updates to come, so please check back…

Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: (Mets’ feed)
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees, Wind 7 mph out to RF

2B Jamey Carroll
LF Bryce Harper
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
C Jose Lobaton
CF Nate McLouth
RHP Tanner Roark

METS (ss)
SS Ruben Tejada
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
RF Curtis Granderson
CF Chris Young
1B Lucas Duda
LF Andrew Brown
C Anthony Recker
RHP Jenrry Mejia

1:11 p.m. — And we’re underway with a strike from Jenrry Mejia to Jamey Carroll. 86 toasty degrees at gametime.

1:26 p.m. — High drama in the top of the first as Bryce Harper is thrown out trying to steal second, only to have Matt Williams challenge the call. After a review of approximately 1 minute, 30 seconds, the call indeed was overturned, making Harper safe. That paid off, because Harper took third on a wild pitch and then scored on Ryan Zimmerman’s infield single up the middle. Nice job by Williams to get his first-ever call overturned. It’s 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the first.

1:34 p.m. — A 1-2-3 bottom of the first for Tanner Roark, but it wasn’t exactly clean from a defensive perspective. Zimmerman and Desmond each had shaky throws to first base, with Zim pulling LaRoche off the bag (he still made the tag) and Desmond bouncing one in the dirt (LaRoche picked it). Not so good there by either guy.

1:48 p.m. — Remember Bryce Harper’s ill-advised, 320-foot throw yesterday? Well, he just made a much-more advised throw here and was rewarded for it. After failing to make a leaping catch at the wall in the left-field corner, Harper tracked down the ball in the Mets bullpen and then fired a strike to nail Chris Young (the outfielder, not the pitcher) trying to stretch the hit into a triple. Impressive. Or, as Matt Williams will probably say later: “Wow. Right move. And wow.” Also impressive: Roark, who notched a couple of strikeouts on curveballs in the bottom of the second. Still 1-0 Nats.

2:01 p.m. — Though he allowed that double to Young, Roark has faced the minimum through three innings now. He got three groundballs in the third, making a nifty play himself on a high chopper over the mound to complete the frame. The right-hander has looked sharp so far as we move to the fourth.

2:18 p.m. — He’s allowed a couple of hard-hit balls, but Roark has nonetheless faced the minimum through four innings. He’s mostly keeping the ball on the ground and has looked in complete control throughout. He’s certainly done all he can to merit a spot on the roster.

2:41 p.m. — The Mets have been starting to hit the ball harder with each passing inning against Roark. He gave up just one actual hit in the fifth, an RBI single by Andrew Brown, but Lucas Duda crushed a ball deep to left that looked like it would’ve gone out if not for the wind blowing in. Looks like Roark will return for the sixth, but he may not have much left in the tank. It’s 1-1 and look who’s entering from the Mets’ bullpen … John Lannan! Sounds like he’s going to make their Opening Day roster as a reliever.

2:48 p.m. — And Lannan retires the side on nine pitches, getting Carroll and Werth to fly out and Harper to rap a bunt toward second base, where Daniel Murphy made a nifty throw to get Bryce by a step. Still 1-1 as Roark returns for the bottom of the sixth.

2:56 p.m. — That’ll do it for Roark, who is pulled with two outs in the sixth and his pitch count at 73 (49 strikes). His final line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. He has certainly made himself a case to make the Opening Day roster, whether as the No. 5 starter or out of the bullpen.

3:05 p.m. — Ian Desmond has absolutely smoked the ball a couple of times today. Doesn’t mean anything in the big picture, but there you go anyway. Still 1-1 at the stretch as Drew Storen enters.

3:17 p.m. — Not a good afternoon for Storen. He entered and immediately walked Wright on four pitches, then served up a towering home run to Granderson. Storen’s total spring pitching line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP. That’s not good. Then again, he was awful in spring 2011 and wound up having a great season. As I’ve said before, relievers are the toughest guys to evaluate each spring. It’s 3-1 Mets now.

3:48 p.m. — That’s it. Nats lose 3-1.

  1. chaz11963 - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Awesome, thanks Mark. I will be watching on MLBTV. It will be very interesting to see how Roark does today. Also, interesting to see if Carroll can pull off snagging that 5th bench spot.

  2. natinalsgo - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Lannan today! That will be interesting!

  3. natinalsgo - Mar 23, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    I like Harp up in the order and Desmond back in the order. No Span, no Rendon and no Espinosa.

    • Sonny G 10 - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      Yes, I like Harp up and Desi back also. I guess Matt Williams is tinkering while he can. Getting an up close and personal look at how to arrange the batting order.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        Hard to imagine MW stacking Span to Harp going Lefty Lefty back to back. I still like Span to Werth to Harper to RZim to Desi to Ramos to ALR to Rendon or switching RZim and Harp in the 3-4. Much of this dates back before Spring Training started when Werth said he didn’t want to bat 2nd and MW has stayed away from doing that. Going JDub 2nd and Harp 3rd worked well in 2012.

      • thelatencn - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        I’m for Span, Zim, Harp, Werth, Desi, LAR, Ramos, Rendon. Splits the lefties and puts everyone where they’ve had success in the past.

      • sjm308 - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

        Gonat – you are exactly right – I think Werth or even Zimm would be a better choice at #2. As much as we hear Werth is a team player, I am surprised he made that statement.

      • letswin3 - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        sjm, I was thinking the same thing. Didn’t Werth say that his ideal was to hit cleanup (or was it 3rd, I don’t remember)? I didn’t think he said he didn’t, or wouldn’t, want to hit 2nd. I too think he is the consummate team guy, and would hit 9th if he thought it was the way to win more games. And he was lights out in that spot before, when called upon.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        Letswin3, Werth never said he wouldn’t bat 2nd. He said he preferred 3rd or cleanup over batting 2nd. There was no ultimatum given.

  4. natinalsgo - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    Good news on Fister via Mark!

    “@ZuckermanCSN: Williams said Fister came out of yesterday’s start with nothing more than normal soreness. Scheduled to throw 60-65 pitches Thursday.”

  5. sjberke - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Jamey Carroll’s swan song today? (I still remember fondly his appearance at the 2005 SABR chapter meeting held in the stands at RFK; he was candid and charming, as you might expect.)

  6. Attitude of Natitude - Mar 23, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    that’s great news! Thanks for “retweeting” for those of us who aren’t on Twitter. With Fister up to speed (as it were), something tells me the rotation will be Stras, Gio, Zimm, Fister, Jordan. Just a hunch. I had Det pegged to start before the bullpen announcement, so I obviously have no idea what will happen.

  7. ArVAFan - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    So Anthony Rendon has a cold, and they’re giving him antibiotics. National’s crack medical staff at it again?

    • David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      In severe chest colds, bacteria can develop. Antibiotics are fairly normal in this circumstance.

  8. Attitude of Natitude - Mar 23, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Charlie on the radio making a strong case that Carroll makes the 25-man roster. I didn’t realize JC has a .339 career pinch-hitting BA, which is pretty phenomenal. And with McLouth and Hairston covering the outfield, plus Espinosa and RZim (on days against tough lefties) covering the infield, it’d be awfully tough for TMo to get reps. If ALR gets injured or struggles again — though every time he pokes another opposite-field hit I get more hopeful that won’t happen — then maybe bring up Moore to fill in at first. But as odd as it seems, Old Man Carroll in the dugout opening day does seem to make sense.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      I hear ya (and Charlie). But without TyMo, there’s no backup to ALR except Zimm, and he just hasn’t seen that much time at 1B in ST. Two other factors:

      1. I think you have to be leery in quoting career averages for a 40yo player. The question is, what’s he likely to do this year? Carroll had a really poor 2013 (.211/,267/,251). Maybe it was a blip. Maybe it was the beginning of the end.

      2. Carroll isn’t on the 40 man, so they have to clear a spot for him. Who would that be? Maybe they play games with the DL, but you can only get away with that for so long.

  9. NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Nice little 2-strike hit there, Bryce.

  10. NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I’m not sure he was out.

  11. NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Good call on the replay! :)

    • Eric - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Pretty cool!

  12. NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Great leaping catch by RZ, poor throw. Luckily, ALR is on the ball and tagged the runner. Guess we are going to see a lot of that.

    • David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:36 PM


      • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        I think RZ should just forget throwing overhand, period. Throw like a submariner, let ALR tag the runner–like he just did. If it gets really bad, and it’s a slow runner, throw it to 2nd and act like it’s a doubleplay.

      • David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        Zim looked good throwing overhand early this spring. Then he got that “shoulder soreness” and he’s back to throwing all over the place.

      • Eric - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Was his arm slot off? On the radio it sounded like he just kind of lobbed it lazily over and was off target…made me think he’s just taking it easy until it matters… Haven’t really convinced myself though 😉

      • Eric - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        Hrm… sounded like that one was on point and routine…

        It’s a mystery!

    • Section 222 - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      On some plays it’s very awkward (and slow) to throw sidearm/submarine. Think of an eye high chooper, or a smash to his right.

      • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        I understand. But better a slow throw than a throw into the dugout.

      • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        RZ just made a good throw. But he still looks like it’s painful to do so. You watch Desi throw, you watch Rendon throw, they are not in pain.

  13. letswin3 - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Is that the first ever overturned call by manager challenge? Even in Spring Training that would be cool. We might be talkin Cooperstown here.

    • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      No, there was one yesterday. Here is where you can look at them.

      • letswin3 - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:10 PM

        Okay then, I say we all ask Matty to challenge anything possible in the first game with the Mets ….. just to get in the record books. Even a sacrifice bunt by Strass that beats him by 3 strides would at least be a possible first challenge ever. I’m just jokin, of course, but it’s just fun to think about.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      I think it’s interesting it’s on a Bryce Harper play. The “Bryce” bias. On close plays expect it to work against Bryce. I can think of 3 plays last year that were blatant calls against Harp and replay would’ve overturned. I will predict now that most controversial replays will involve Harp.

  14. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:45 PM


  15. Section 222 - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    What a throw by Harper!. Had to avoid the bullpen guys down the line. Perfect one hop strike to Zim.

  16. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    Harper starting to look better at the plate. 2 hits yesterday, a hit and a walk today. Werth has also looked good, though no homers yet.

    • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      Except for the one he hit off Fister in a minor league game. 😉

  17. natinalsgo - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Lobaton and McLouth can’t buy a hit.

  18. NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Is it my TV, or has Lannan lost a little weight?

  19. NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    Angels released Chad Tracy.

    “Tracy…. hit .303 with a homer and seven RBIs in 17 games…had an opt-out clause if he didn’t make the major-league roster.,0,7257218.story#axzz2wlUCofIN

    • nats128 - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:40 PM

      Suprize suprize. This is the same player that Rizzo rewarded with a extension before the season ended in 2012 as if Tracy was to important to lose in Free Agency in the offseason. Then of course he had that really bad 2013 season and Rizzo hung on to him for 92 games to long.

      I like the signing of Tracy for the 2012 season and when he got injured he was never the same again. There were so many better options available out there for Davey’s bench in 2013.

  20. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    One day Harper will actually lay down a successful bunt. One day.

  21. realdealnats - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Still think Roark would be a great #5.

    But today I was thinking about the competitive edge he might sharpen in Det if they are both in the BP together. B/c I don’t think Roark will let a stint in the BP affect him emotionally. And I said this a year ago, and unfortunately upset Ghost whose comments I respect a great deal, but imho Det responds best when he has a more immediate carrot right in front of him–in this case not letting Roark show him up in the BP and also sharpening his repertoire to get back to 5th starter. And the very nature of coming in for a single inning on most occasions. Ghost thought it was cheap psychoanalysis, and hey virtually none of us know these guys, but it’s the way it seems to me.

    So for possibilities such as this, I would not feel bad at all with Jordan #5 and Roark in the pen.

  22. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    Not sure why Desmond would run when he’s already in scoring position with 2 out. ST, I guess.

  23. NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    Storen with the leadoff walk.

    • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      And then the HR. Come on Drew, not what we need here.

      • David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        Looks to me like he’s throwing a lot of sliders. He just threw like 4 in a row.

  24. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    Storen’s awful Spring continues, if you care about such things.

    • Danny - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      Storen is garbage.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Or, he knows it’s a ST game, and he wants to work on his slider while it still doesn’t matter.

    • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      Well, I don’t care, but his body language doesn’t say “I’m just working on things.” And out comes Cat.

  25. deftndumb - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    The back end of the BP has been looking dodgy, to be sure. All the more reason to have Espinosa on the club for late-game defense.

  26. realdealnats - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    I do. I worry about Soriano not b/c of his 2013 or 2014 Spring, but b/c of his 2013 season. And I worry about Drew b/c he just doesn’t seem to make the mental adjustments he needs to make to pitch in the role needed.

  27. Section 222 - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    I’ve been watching and the Mets announcers, including Ron Darling, know their stuff and are very complementary of the Nats. Nice contrast to those awful Cards’ guys.

    • nats128 - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Remember that Darling at one time was the Darling of MASN2

  28. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    Interesting point by Ron Darling about Williams taking Storen out after the strikeout so he could exit on a high note and help build some confidence. Dunno if it’s true or if it would matter even if it is true, but interesting theory nonetheless.

  29. Danny - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:25 PM


    I’m not cutting Storen any slack this year. He was terrible last season. If name name wasn’t Drew Storen #10 pick, he wouldn’t deserve to make this team.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Fine. But if you’re not going to cut him any slack this season, could you at least wait until the seasons starts?

      • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        :) A lot will have to wait until the season starts. But I do feel there will be certain players on short leash, and Storen may be one of them. He can be fantastic–he was particularly good at getting right-handed batters out last summer when he came back from injury, almost like a ROOGY.

        McLouth is sure a pro at stealing bases.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM


        Honestly, I’m not that enamored of Storen myself. I just like it when the evaluations stay reality based, which both you and David P are doing nicely.

  30. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    Yes, Storen had significant platoon splits last year. Well, sorta. Both righties and lefties hit about the same average-wise, but lefties hit for power off of him while righties didn’t. I would use him as a ROOGY until he proves he can handle that and then up his responsibilities as he gains confidence. He’s been able to get lefties out in the past, so it’s not that he CAN’T.

    • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      I just remember Storen being called on to get David Wright or some other big power righty out, which he did.

    • Jb - Mar 23, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      There’s no such thing as a ROOGY.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        Pretty clear what DP and NL mean, tho–isn’t it?

  31. David Proctor - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Well that was quick for Barrett.

    • Danny - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      Barrett for closer ha!

  32. nats128 - Mar 23, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    I heard very often from many here that Lannan could not pitch out of the bullpen. I guess he can.

    • NatsLady - Mar 23, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      In the interview during the game, he said he could, and he was “looking forward” to it.

  33. sjm308 - Mar 23, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    More people jumping on Soriano but Storen has not given me a lot of confidence and I really really like him. I thought he was pretty much a lock for closer in 2015 but I am not as sure right now. He just looks like a different pitcher and body language tells me a great deal.

    Hiram is correct that what happens in FLA has little relation to what happens next week in NY – Just look at Kershaw as a perfect example. 9+ era in the spring and then he goes out and is a shut down starter in the first game.

    Still, if you were Matt Williams and you had a one run lead in the 7th inning would you bring in Storen? or would you go with someone else? I guess the answer will be pretty obvious very soon. As shaky as Soriano has been, you know he will get the call to close and I guess that will be the same for Storen.

    Go Nats!!

  34. sjm308 - Mar 23, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    I just read the game comments over on MASN and Williams has a nice quote. They asked him why so many of the guys on the 25 man roster accompanied the team on this trip even if they were not going to pitch (Soriano & Stammen were two examples). I am not quoting but his answer was basically, we are a team and I wanted the team together for this game. I hope Williams has a great first year and I would bet this kind of attitude helps us.

    • ehay2k - Mar 23, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      He could have said: “I didn’t have the juice to get good NASCAR tickets.”

      • sjm308 - Mar 23, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        I think JayB bought them all to prevent that from happening





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