Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The sun is back out in full force today at Space Coast Stadium.
John Lannan gets the start, but I'm more interested to see how Yunesky Maya looks out of the bullpen. Maya drew rave reviews for his performance in the Dominican this winter, and he's looked sharp so far in camp, though there's only so much you can gather from bullpen sessions and live BP.
Some news on other pitchers: Both Tom Gorzelanny and Chien-Ming Wang will appear in Friday's minor-league intrasquad game. Nothing wrong with Gorzelanny; it's just the way the schedule sets up, and we'll probably see him in a big-league game next week.
Meanwhile, reliever Henry Rodriguez has arrived at last from Venezuela and is taking his physical today. The Nats will slowly work him into the mix, with bullpen sessions and live BP before he pitches in a game.
Also, you'll notice Nyjer Morgan is not in the lineup today against his good friends from Florida. Given his history with the Marlins, it would be easy to read something into this. But really, Nyjer's sitting this one out only because he started the last two days. "He'll get plenty of action against the Marlins [later this spring]," Jim Riggleman assured.
Plenty of updates to come throughout the day, so be sure to check back...
MARLINS at NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 74 degrees, Wind 17 mph LF to RF
STARTING LINEUPS12:57 p.m. -- Nice version of the national anthem sung by all four members of the Oak Ridge Boys, who are apparently performing in town tonight.
CF Roger Bernadina
LF Rick Ankiel
RF Laynce Nix
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Adam LaRoche
C Jesus Flores
2B Jerry Hairston
SS Alex Cora
1B Michael Aubrey
(P John Lannan)
2B Omar Infante
CF Dewayne Wise
SS Hanley Ramirez
1B Gaby Sanchez
C John Buck
3B Wes Helms
RF Scott Cousins
LF Bryan Peterson
DH John Raynor
(P Josh Johnson)
1:05 p.m. -- Fastball high from John Lannan to Omar Infante gets this game underway. Really small crowd on hand, you can hear just about anything said in the stands.
1:09 p.m. -- Very nice top of the first for Lannan. He retired the side, getting Infante to fly out, Dewayne Wise to ground out to short and then blowing away Hanley Ramirez (yes, I said blowing away Hanley Ramirez) with a 2-2 fastball up and out of the strike zone.
1:27 p.m. -- And the Nats take a 1-0 lead, thanks to some sloppy Florida defense. Rick Ankiel reached on an error by Ramirez, took second when Laynce Nix walked and then took third when Josh Johnson misfired on a pickoff attempt. A groundout to short off Ryan Zimmerman's bat brought Ankiel home with the first run of the day. Later, Adam LaRoche (still limited to DH duties) singled through the right-side hole, and Jesus Flores (making his first start behind the plate) grounded out to second.
1:32 p.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Lannan, who induced a pop-up and two flyouts. Looks really sharp here so far.
2:15 p.m. -- So, I leave the press box to go shoot some photos, and wouldn't you know it happened again: an offensive explosion. The Nats scored four times in the bottom of the second, with Roger Bernadina providing three of the runs on a towering blast over the right-field fence. The wind is blowing pretty strong in that direction, but Bernadina put a charge into the ball and it probably would have gone out regardless. Lannan, meanwhile, had some hiccups in the top of the third, allowing two runs on three hits (one of them an RBI single by Hanley Ramirez). It's now 5-2 Nats heading into the fourth, and Yunesky Maya is taking the mound.
2:20 p.m. -- Lannan's final line: 3 ip, 3 h, 2 er, 0 bb, 1 k, 1 hbp, 46 pitches, 28 strikes.
2:22 p.m. -- For those wondering, Josh Johnson didn't leave the game injured. He simply hit his predetermined pitch count in the middle of Ryan Zimmerman's at-bat in the bottom of the second and thus was pulled.
2:23 p.m. -- Nice inning for Maya. He retired the side on 10 pitches, striking out two batters. Still 5-2 Nats.
2:48 p.m. -- Two scoreless innings for Maya, whose spring debut turned out to be a good one. He allowed two hits in the fifth but kept the Marlins from scoring and even started a very nice 1-6-3 double play. Final line: 2 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 3 k. 23 pitches, 16 strikes.
3:32 p.m. -- So, I just spent the last 30 minutes in the Nats clubhouse, talking to John Lannan about his start, Jesus Flores about Yunesky Maya's performance and Stephen Strasburg about his rehab (nothing really new to report there, other than he's started throwing from a slightly greater distance). But it appears plenty happened in my absence. The Nats currently lead 7-4 in the bottom of the eighth, thanks in part to a solo homer from Rick Ankiel. Bryce Harper also came off the bench and drew a walk. He also took over in right field. And in today's blast from the past, Shawn Hill appeared for the Marlins. It's hard not to root for Hill, an incredibly intense competitor who has gone through a whole lot of injuries in his career, including two Tommy John surgeries. Doesn't sound like he has a great shot at making Florida's rotation, but the mere fact he's pitching in big-league games and is healthy is impressive enough.
3:41 p.m. -- Harper just got another at-bat to end the eighth. He drove a shot to deep left-center, reaching the warning track before the ball was caught just short of the fence. Pretty impressive poke to the opposite-field, especially considering the crosswind blowing from left to right field.
3:47 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win 8-4 and improve to 3-0 this spring. Too early to start printing Grapefruit League champion T-shirts?