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Gio Gonzalez allowed one run over six strong innings today.
Which isn't to say there weren't still some interesting developments. Such as...
Gio Gonzalez looked sharp during his six-inning start and penultimate appearance of the spring. The left-hander allowed one run on four hits, struck out three, walked one and threw 85 pitches on a warm, 89-degree afternoon at Tradition Field.
Gonzalez was pleased with the results he had, though he knows he's still got some work to do to get his velocity and stamina up to regular-season standards.
"It's still one of those starts where your arm feels a little tired," he said. "You're working on stuff to get that arm strength. But other than that, hopefully by when the season starts, I think my arm will be right where it needs to be."
Manager Davey Johnson plans to give Gonzalez one more start before Opening Day -- Thursday against the same Mets lineup in Viera -- but he'll hold the lefty to roughly 70 pitches as he ramps down all of his starters in advance of the regular season. ...
Drew Storen's erratic spring continued when the reliever served up a solo homer to Lucas Duda on a 3-1 fastball in the eighth inning. It's the third time Storen has been scored upon in his last four appearances, but he and Johnson remain unconcerned about results and have been encouraged by the way he's thrown.
Storen in particular threw several good offspeed pitches today, both sliders and changeups, resulting in a pair of strikeouts.
"That's usually one of the last things to come in," he said. "But the main thing is, the fastball has been good. Just left a couple up. Now it's a matter of consistently getting on top of it, and I'll be alright."
Storen's fastball velocity wasn't quite up to par today, hovering between 90-93 mph, but he believes the extra ticks will come as he gets more work over the final week of camp.
"There's still a lot of time, especially for me, because there are two or three more appearances before we head out," he said. "The velocity's not going to be there until the season, really. I've shown some good numbers here and there, but it's going to be a little more of a roller coaster this time around."
Though much attention has been given to Storen's spring ERA (now 5.40), less attention has been given to the fact he's recorded 15 strikeouts in only 10 innings.
As always, there's nobody tougher to evaluate in spring training than relievers. ...
J.C. Romero made the trip to Port St. Lucie and was supposed to make his Nationals debut one day after signing a minor-league deal with the club. But the veteran left-hander was penciled in to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning, which wasn't necessary because the Mets won, so he had to settle for throwing off the bullpen mound as the game was wrapping up.
Speaking before the game, Romero said he's prepared to go to Class AAA Syracuse and re-establish himself in hopes of earning a promotion to Washington at some point during the season.
"You don't want to try to jump the gun," he said. "When my name is called, I'll be ready to do my job."
Once a reliable reliever for the Twins and Phillies, Romero has bounced around all over the place the last two seasons, pitching for seven different organizations (including the Nationals for a month in 2011). He attributes his struggles to a long recovery from 2009 surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his elbow. For the first time since that surgery, he says his arm feels 100 percent again.
"It took me a full two years to re-establish myself and to prove to myself I'm healthy, I'm ready to go," the 36-year-old said. "Some people heal quickly. In my case, it took me a little while."