Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Disney's Wide World of Sports, spring home of the Atlanta Braves.
Morse's injury led to a lineup shuffling by Davey Johnson. DH Chad Tracy, who was supposed to bat seventh, has been moved up to the cleanup spot. Brett Carroll is shifting from right field to left field. And Bryce Harper is now starting in right field and batting seventh. It's the fourth time in five days Harper has started, more than anyone else on the roster.
As for Gonzalez, he'll be on a typical pitch count of 40-45 pitches. He'll also be facing most of the Braves' regulars, including Michael Bourne, Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward.
No TV or radio, but I'll have plenty of updates live from the Happiest Place on Earth (though the Nats' dugout may not agree with that designation today)...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Disney's Wide World of Sports, Lake Buena Vista
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Weather: Partly cloudy, 73 degrees, Wind 19 LF from RF
STARTING LINEUPS1:05 p.m. -- We're underway with a fastball from Kris Medlen high to Ian Desmond for ball one.
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
DH Chad Tracy
CF Jayson Werth
1B Mark DeRosa
RF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
LF Brett Carroll
(P Gio Gonzalez)
CF Michael Bourn
3B Martin Prado
DH Brian McCann
2B Dan Uggla
1B Freddie Freeman
LF Matt Diaz
RF Jason Heyward
C David Ross
SS Andrelton Simmons
(P Kris Medlen)
1:14 p.m. -- Not much happening in the top of the first. Ian Desmond grounded out to short. Danny Espinosa did single to left and then took second on a bobble by catcher David Ross. But Ryan Zimmerman and Chad Tracy each struck out with Espinosa in scoring position, stranding him at second base. Gio Gonzalez now taking the mound for the bottom of the first.
1:24 p.m. -- Gonzalez's first pitch as a National is a 94 mph strike to Michael Bourn. And his final pitch of the inning was a 95 mph fastball to Freddie Freeman. Can you remember another left-handed Nats starter ever doing that? I can't. (Er, actually as Adam Kilgore of the Post points out: Ross Detwiler did it last September.) But anyways, good stuff from Gio in the bottom of the first.
1:32 p.m. -- Good news: Jayson Werth homered off the top of the right-field fence to lead off the top of the second. Wind helped a bit, but Werth still scalded that ball. More good news: Bryce Harper stroked a solid base hit to right, making him 5-for-8 in the Grapefruit League. Bad news: Harper ran himself into a double play when he tried to go first to third on Wilson Ramos' slow roller to third. Wound up slipping between second and third and was tagged out to end the inning. Nats lead 1-0 going to the bottom of the second.
1:37 p.m. -- A real quick, 1-2-3 second for Gio. Struck out Matt Diaz looking. Got Jason Heyward to pop out. Got David Ross to fly out. I would think Gonzalez will be back out for the third, given how efficient he's been so far. Nats still lead 1-0.
1:46 p.m. -- Chad Tracy delivers an RBI double to deep right, nearly hitting it out of the park. Instead, it glanced off Heyward's glove at the fence, scoring Carroll from third Zimmerman (who drew a walk off lefty Eric O'Flaherty) from first. Nats lead 3-0 as Gio indeed returns to the mound for the bottom of the third.
1:54 p.m. -- Oof, Desmond with his third error of the spring. He fielded Andrelton Simmons' grounder to open the third cleanly, but then dropped the ball making the exchange from glove to hand. That's three errors in his last two games, not what Desmond or the Nationals want to see. On the bright side, Gonzalez wrapped up a really nice debut start. His final line: 3 ip, 1 h, 0 er, 1 bb, 2 k. I believe he threw 40 pitches, though that's not official. Nats still up 3-0 after three.
1:58 p.m. -- Looks like there's nothing to fear about Mark DeRosa's wrist, because he just crushed a homer to left off Jonny Venters. That was into the wind, a real blast. Harper came up next and tapped a weak grounder to first. Venters might well have been the toughest pitcher the kid has ever faced. Nats lead 4-0.
2:10 p.m. -- Yunesky Maya's first two batters faced this spring: Back-to-back doubles to right-center. And these weren't bloopers. They were rockets. Maya gave up a couple more hard-hit balls in the fourth but escaped without suffering any more damage. Nats lead 4-1 heading to the fifth.
2:19 p.m. -- Davey went up to Ryan Zimmerman before the game and told him he'd try to give him three at-bats today. He did. Unfortunately, Zim only got to take the bat off his shoulder once. He struck out in the first but walked in both the third and fifth. Still 4-1 heading to the bottom of the fifth. Have to go down to the clubhouse now to talk to Gio, so may be a bit before the next update.
3:17 p.m. -- Sorry for the long delay. We not only talked to Gio Gonzalez, but also were waiting around for Michael Morse to update his injury. The good news: Sounds like it's nothing serious. Morse said he first felt "a knot" in the back of his shoulder a couple days ago. He noticed it more today while throwing before the game. He said it only affects him when he throws, not swings or runs. He thinks he may be able to play tomorrow. Asked if he's worried at all, Morse said: "No, I'm not. And I get worried easy." As far as this game goes, it's now 4-2 Nats in the top of the eighth. Sorry I can't tell you what's happened to this point, but Anthony Rendon did just double to right-center.
3:22 p.m. -- Rendon scores on a sac fly to right, putting the Nats up 5-2 in the eighth.
3:32 p.m. -- Jeff Fulchino pitches a scoreless eighth, so the 5-2 lead remains intact heading to the ninth.
3:46 p.m. -- That's your ballgame. Chad Durbin closes out the Braves in the bottom of the ninth, and the Nats win 5-2. They're now 2-2 in Grapefruit League play.