Mar 27, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — And so we have arrived at the final day of spring training, with one last Grapefruit League showdown between the Nationals and Mets before they meet for real Monday at Citi Field. Both teams are using regular lineups (the only exception for the Nats is that Ryan Zimmerman, dealing with a stomach bug, is sitting today) and the Nats are sending Jordan Zimmermann to the mound for his final tune-up.
The Mets, on the other hand, are starting right-hander Cory Mazzoni, not a member of their Opening Day rotation. Bartolo Colon is throwing in a minor-league game so the Nats don’t get a preview of the guy they’ll face Wednesday in Flushing.
There’s a slightly different look to the Nationals’ lineup today, with Anthony Rendon leading off and Denard Span batting second. Matt Williams’ explanation: “Just having a look, that’s it. Potentials during the season. You never know. Not too much to read into it other than we want to take a look.”
Just like yesterday, this game is on ESPN. I’ll have plenty of updates myself, so please check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK METS
Where: Tradition Field, Port St. Lucie
Gametime: 12:10 p.m. EDT
TV: ESPN, MLB.tv
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 71 degrees, Wind 14 mph out to LF
3B Anthony Rendon
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
C Wilson Ramos
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
LF Eric Young Jr.
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
RF Curtis Granderson
CF Chris Young
1B Ike Davis
C Travis d’Arnaud
SS Ruben Tejada
RHP Cory Mazzoni
12:10 p.m. — And we’re underway with a ball from Cory Mazzoni to Anthony Rendon. This being getaway day and all, I would expect guys on both sides to be swinging a lot. Jordan Zimmermann might complete six innings on like, 43 pitches.
12:15 p.m. — Sure enough, Mazzoni needed only eight pitches to retire the side. Even Jayson Werth swung at the first two pitches he saw. I think anybody who runs the count full today is going to be fined.
12:28 p.m. — Zimmermann did have to throw 23 pitches in the bottom of the first, but an astounding 19 of them were strikes. Eric Young and Daniel Murphy each singled, with Young barely beating a brilliant play and throw by Danny Espinosa. Espinosa dove all-out to his right to snag the hot shot, then fired nearly underhanded to first base, just a smidge too late. Regardless of the call, it was one of the best plays you’ll ever see from a second baseman. Zimmermann also took a comebacker from David Wright off his, um, posterior region. A trainer came out to look at him, but Jordan laughed him off. Scoreless after one.
12:50 p.m. — Tough second inning for Mazzoni. He gave up three singles and a walk, including an RBI hit to Zimmermann, then had to leave the game holding his right arm. Hopefully it’s nothing serious for a minor-league guy who was getting a chance to pitch in a big-league spring game. It’s 1-0 Nats going to the bottom of the second.
1:22 p.m. — We’re in the middle of the fourth now, the Nats still leading 1-0. Old pal John Lannan replaced the injured Mazzoni and settled things down for the Mets. Zimmermann has thrown 33-of-41 pitches for strikes through three.
1:38 p.m. — Four innings down now, still 1-0 Nats. Wilson Ramos, you may have noticed, departed after only three innings, but that was planned. The Nats say he’s not dealing with any injury.
1:46 p.m. — Make it five scoreless innings for Zimmermann, who did it on 71 pitches. That may be it for him, as Rafael Soriano begins to warm in the pen. Assuming Jordan is done, his final spring pitching line will be: 18 IP, 11 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 15 K. Mercy.
1:53 p.m. — Not a banner 60 seconds for Bryce Harper in the top of the sixth. He was held to a single on a line drive off the left field wall. Then he was picked off trying to steal second. I think he, like everyone else, is ready to start playing in games that count.
2:05 p.m. — Soriano put two men on in the sixth, one via a Rendon error, but he came up big to escape the jam. With runners on second and third and two out, he froze Granderson looking at a slider on the outside corner. That might’ve been Soriano’s best pitch of the spring. Still 1-0 Nats heading to the seventh.
2:13 p.m. — Kevin Frandsen, meanwhile, has made his Nats debut at second base.
2:20 p.m. — And now Frandsen is at first base. Matt Williams noted this morning how much experience he has there. That could change the Nats’ plan to play Ryan Zimmerman at first base as much as originally planned. Read my full story on Zim here.
2:42 p.m. — Just got back from the clubhouse, where Jordan Zimmermann discussed how well his afternoon and his spring overall went. While down there, Frandsen doubled in his first-ever at-bat with the Nats and later scored on Harper’s RBI single. It’s now 3-0 in the eighth.
2:55 p.m. — Well, folks. I’ve got to head out. Driving to Orlando to make my flight home tonight. It’s still 3-0 Nats in the top of the ninth. I’ll trust you all to take this one home for me. Talk to you from D.C.!
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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