Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez faces Chris Carpenter today at Roger Dean Stadium.
As for what's going on here in Jupiter ... Jim Riggleman said Ryan Zimmerman (still dealing with a sore groin) will hopefully return to the lineup Thursday, though that's not a given yet. Zimmerman has taken swings in the cage but has yet to take grounders in the field.
As for the center field situation ... all three contenders are here for today's game. Nyjer Morgan is in the lineup, but Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina should see playing time at some point. Riggleman said some of what happens over the next week will help determine who wins the job, but it's not going to be based entirely on the guys' performance to close out camp. There are other factors at play, obviously.
Livan Hernandez faces Chris Carpenter. Updates to come throughout...
NATIONALS at CARDINALS
Where: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Gametime: 1:10 p.m.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind 19 mph in from RF
STARTING LINEUPS1:08 p.m. -- Fastball from Chris Carpenter to Nyjer Morgan for ball one and we are underway on a beautiful day in Jupiter.
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
RF Laynce Nix
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Alex Cora
P Livan Hernandez
SS Ryan Theriot
CF Colby Rasmus
1B Albert Pujols
LF Matt Holliday
RF Lance Berkman
3B David Freese
2B Skip Schumaker
C Gerald Laird
P Chris Carpenter
1:11 p.m. -- Nyjer leads off with a single up the middle ... and then tries to steal second too soon. Carpenter stepped off the mound and threw to second to nail him by five steps.
1:14 p.m. -- Ian Desmond also singled, but Albert Pujols made a nice play on Laynce Nix's chopper to first and started a 3-6 double play to end the top of the first. Nats get two hits yet send the minimum to the plate.
1:18 p.m. -- Nice, clean bottom of the first from Livan Hernandez. He got Ryan Theriot to ground out to short, got Colby Rasmus to fly out to right and then got ahead of Albert Pujols 0-2 before watching the big guy hit a towering fly ball to center, short of the warning track. Scoreless after one.
1:29 p.m. -- The Nats aren't having much trouble getting on base against Carpenter. They just can't do much once they're on base. Michael Morse roped a sharp grounder to third that went under David Freese's glove for a two-base error, then Ivan Rodriguez drew a one-out walk. Danny Espinosa, though, grounded into the afternoon's second double play, this one of the 3-6-3 variety. So they've put four men on base in two innings, haven't scored, yet have stranded only one runner so far.
1:36 p.m. -- Matt Holliday leads off the second with a single, but he's quickly erased trying to steal thanks to a fantastic throw from Pudge. Nailed him by several steps. Livo then retired Lance Berkman and David Freese to end the second inning still scoreless.
2:14 p.m. -- Devoted readers of this site know what tends to happen when I leave the press box to go take photos. Sure enough, the Nats just scored four runs in the top of the fourth. They sent 11 men to the plate, getting RBI hits from Nix (triple), LaRoche (double), Rodriguez (single) and Cora (single). Nats now lead 4-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth.
2:20 p.m. -- Livo struggling for the first time this afternoon. He allowed two runs in the bottom of the fourth on three hits and a walk. Nats still lead 4-2 as we go to the fifth.
2:37 p.m. -- The Nats knocked Carpenter out of the game in the top of the fifth, tagging the Cardinals ace for four runs, seven hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. Reliever Fernando Salas entered and immediately walked Morse to load the bases with two outs. Pudge, however, killed the rally with a groundout to second. Still 4-2 going to the bottom of the fifth.
2:57 p.m. -- Livo's day is done. In five innings, he allowed two runs on six hits, walking three and striking out one. Pretty solid outing, kind of faded a bit late. Former Cardinals minor-leaguer Brian Broderick on now out of the bullpen, trying to extend his case for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen.
2:59 p.m. -- Fantastic diving stop by Adam LaRoche at first base. He dove way to his right to snag Mark Hamilton's smoked grounder, then made a nice throw to second for a force out. Not to beat a dead horse here, but Adam Dunn does not make that play.
3:10 p.m. -- Whoa, fireworks in Jupiter as the benches empty! This all goes back to a play in the top of the fifth, when Nyjer Morgan got into a minor collision with Albert Pujols trying to beat out a slow roller. There was nothing wrong with what Nyjer did in this case, but you all know the history there. Nyjer ran over catcher Bryan Anderson last summer in D.C. So after one player from each time was hit by a pitch in the fifth today, the temperature was raised a bit. Then old friend Miguel Batista, now with the Cardinals, plunked Ian Desmond in the top of the sixth. The umps issued warnings to both dugouts and Desmond started jawing at Batista. The benches immediately emptied, with Nyjer leading the charge. No punches were thrown, and Nyjer was corralled by coach Trent Jewett. The biggest sparks actually came between Jim Riggleman and Tony LaRussa, two long-time friends who were really jawing at each other. Riggleman kept going back at LaRussa, emphatically pointing at the opposing manager. At the end of all that, the umpires conferred and wound up ejecting Batista, much to LaRussa's chagrin. Crazy stuff for a spring training game. It's still 4-2 Nats in the top of the seventh.
4:39 p.m. -- Sorry for the long delay there, folks. We were down in the clubhouse talking to Livan Hernandez and just stayed there through the end of the game. The Nats won, 7-2, and there was plenty of good stuff from the clubhouse afterward involving the bench-clearing incident. Basically, the Nats were upset that Chris Carpenter plunked Laynce Nix after a perfectly innocent play at first base between Nyjer Morgan and Albert Pujols. Livo wasn't afraid to admit at all that he plunked Colby Rasmus on purpose. And the Nats weren't happy at all that Miguel Batista then plunked Ian Desmond, inciting the clearing of the benches. "You don't continue hitting people and hitting people," Hernandez said.
Plenty more to come in the form of actual articles, so check the homepage and CSNwashington.com for all that soon.