Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Braves come to Space Coast Stadium this afternoon.
This is LaRoche's first game appearance since March 15. His sprained ankle/bruised foot has healed, and he's been cleared to run the bases, so it certainly looks like he'll be good to go by Opening Day. Nady, meanwhile, is throwing his hat into the ring for the Opening Day left fielder's job with Michael Morse expected to be on the disabled list.
Nady actually was supposed to start in right field, with Mark DeRosa in left field. But DeRosa was a late scratch. No reason has been given yet, but he was dealing with a calf cramp the other day, so it might just be a recurrence of that.
Edwin Jackson is on the mound, hoping to bounce back from his troublesome start Saturday against the Orioles. Plenty of updates to come...
ATLANTA BRAVES vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (ss)
Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Radio: Braves feed via MLB Gameday Audio
Weather: Partly cloudy, 83 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to CF
STARTING LINEUPS1:04 p.m. -- And we're underway as Edwin Jackson fires a fastball high to Jack Wilson for ball one.
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
CF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Xavier Nady
C Wilson Ramos
RF Brett Carroll
P Edwin Jackson
SS Jack Wilson
3B Martin Prado
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
LF Eric Hinske
CF Jason Heyward
C David Ross
RF Jordan Parraz
P Mike Minor
1:12 p.m. -- Better stuff from Jackson in the top of the first, but still a few issues. He got a couple of groundballs to start the inning, but then he walked Freddie Freeman and allowed a double to Dan Uggla down the left-field line. Jackson buckled down, though, and got Eric Hinske to loft a foul pop to third to end the inning. Hinske wasn't particularly happy about that, as evidenced by the loud expletive he screamed that could be heard throughout the stadium. Stay classy, Eric.
1:22 p.m. -- A nice, 1-2-3 top of the second for Jackson, with a couple of flyouts to left (the first one by Jason Heyward to the warning track) and a swinging strikeout of Jordan Parraz. Scoreless here in the middle of the second.
1:30 p.m. -- First chance to see Adam LaRoche against a big-league pitcher in two weeks. He grounded out to second base. Couldn't really tell a lot from that. Xavier Nady, meanwhile, took a mighty hack at a Mike Minor fastball ... and whiffed. So Nady is now 1-for-4 with three strikeouts since joining the big-league roster yesterday. Scoreless after two.
1:38 p.m. -- Jackson is getting better as this start progresses. He retired the side in the third, getting Wilson and Prado to ground out in the process. He's retired seven in a row now and has completed three scoreless innings putting only two men on base.
1:49 p.m. -- I don't believe I've ever covered a ballgame with Sean Barber calling balls and strikes. If I had, I'd probably remember it, because Barber's strike zone stretches all the way from Viera to Lake Buena Vista. Players on both sides haven't been too happy with all the called strikes. That said, you've got to be able to adjust to the conditions, and the Nats certainly haven't. It would also have helped had Edwin Jackson been able to get a sac bunt down in his first plate appearance of he spring. Time for Rick Eckstein to get to work with Jackson and Gio Gonzalez on their technique. Scoreless after three.
1:56 p.m. -- Jackson continues to get better. Set down the heart of the Braves in order in the fourth, so he's now retired 10 in a row. This game remains scoreless in the middle of the fourth.
2:02 p.m. -- LaRoche with a nice, well-struck base hit up the middle off Minor, a tough lefty. And you'll be happy to know he made that all-important "inversion" turn around first base with no apparent problems. At the other end of the spectrum, Nady followed by bouncing into a 5-3 double play to end the fourth. It's only five at-bats, but so far the veteran doesn't look so great at the plate. We head to the fifth, still 0-0.
2:08 p.m. -- Sweet sassy molassey, did Jason Heyward just crush a pitch from Jackson. It sailed well over the batter's eye in center field, which stands probably 30 feet high. Just a towering shot. And there's no wind to speak of here today. That was all Heyward. It's 1-0 Braves in the middle of the fifth.
2:17 p.m. -- Guess Jackson got a quick bunting tutorial from Eckstein between innings, because he looked much better dropping a sac bunt in the bottom of the fifth. Unfortunately, Desmond popped out, stranding Carroll on second base. Braves still lead 1-0 after five as Jackson comes back out for the sixth.
2:22 p.m. -- I'm not sure Edwin Jackson could've experienced a more dramatic turnaround from one start to another. Really looked sharp today, the Heyward blast aside. His final line: 6 ip, 2 h, 1 er, 1 bb, 1 k. He'll take the mound at Nationals Park on Tuesday to face the Red Sox, then will be good to go for the regular season.
2:28 p.m. -- Ryan Zimmerman sure didn't look like he got all of Minor's sixth-inning pitch, sending a fly ball to right field. But Parraz kept backtracking to the wall, then turned around to watch the ball sail over the fence. The two-run shot is Zim's third homer of the spring and it puts the Nats up 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth.
2:48 p.m. -- Brett Carroll was going to make this team anyway, but a bases-clearing triple -- with Carroll eventually scoring as the shortstop's throw got away from the catcher -- probably just sealed the deal. It's a four-run play and it puts the Nats up 6-1 as the bottom of the sixth finally comes to an end.
3:58 p.m. -- So, um, yeah, it's been a little while since you last heard from me. We were down in the clubhouse talking to Edwin Jackson, then waiting for Adam LaRoche, at which point the game had ended. Nats win, 6-3. Plenty of stuff -- including the signing of left-hander Zach Duke to a minor-league contract -- to come, so check back on the homepage shortly.