Friday, March 5, 2010

Nats vs. Braves -- 3/5/10

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Disney-fied spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Hello from the "Happiest Place on Earth" (TM), otherwise known as Disney's Wide World of Sports. The spring home of the Braves is a wonderful complex, one of the nicest in the state. But make no mistake, it reeks of the Disney vibe. Before you pull into the parking lot, there's a sign reading "Cast Members Entrance." The music is loud and family-friendly. And the ushers dance in between innings.

Into this caldron of syrup come the Nationals, fresh off two unsightly losses in yesterday's Grapefruit League split-squad openers. Jim Riggleman will be fielding a slightly better lineup today, with more regulars. Veteran Miguel Batista, in the running for either a rotation or bullpen spot, gets the start.

Check back throughout the day for in-game updates, and check the home page for other non-game news...

Disney's Wide World of Sports, Lake Buena Vista
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: Braves radio (via MLB Gameday Audio)
Weather: Sunny, 60 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to CF
LF Roger Bernadina
2B Adam Kennedy
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Chris Duncan
RF Elijah Dukes
C Ivan Rodriguez
CF Justin Maxwell
DH Mike Morse
SS Ian Desmond
(P Miguel Batista)

2B Edgar Prado
RF Jason Heyward
3B Chipper Jones
1B Troy Glaus
C Brian McCann
SS Yunel Escobar
CF Melky Cabrera
DH David Ross
LF Brent Clevlen
(P Derek Lowe)

12:13 p.m. -- For those wondering about Cristian Guzman ... no, he's not here today ... no, he's not dealing with any injury issues ... no, his wife has not gone into labor yet. Jim Riggleman said he'll be in the lineup tomorrow in Viera. He's been cleared 100 percent to play, no issues with his foot or his shoulder. He'll still head back to D.C. at some point once the baby is ready to arrive, but that hasn't happened yet.

1:07 p.m. -- We are underway, and Derek Lowe is already in midseason form. Three batters faced. Three groundouts. Roger Bernadina raps one to shortstop. Adam Kennedy struck one to first base. Ryan Zimmerman sent one to third base. 1-2-3, nothing across. Miguel Batista now taking the mound for the Nats.

1:14 p.m. -- Nice start for Batista, too. Three straight groundouts, with Martin Prado and Chipper Jones each going to shortstop, and Jason Heyward (the only man deemed a better prospect than Stephen Strasburg by Baseball America) grounding out to first. Twelve pitches, seven strikes.

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Ivan Rodriguez fouls off a pitch in the second inning.

1:54 p.m. -- Ragged second inning for Batista, who labored throughout and wound up allowing two runs on three hits, with two walks thrown in for good measure. The damage would have been worse if not for a fabulous play by Ian Desmond, who dove to his left to snag Martin Prado's hot smash up the middle and then fired home just in time to get the final out of the inning and save Batista's hide. The Nats did respond, however, in the top of the third. Desmond laced a sharp groundball single up the middle off Billy Wagner, scoring both Justin Maxwell and Mike Morse to tie things up 2-2. That's where we now stand in the bottom of the third, with Craig Stammen now on the mound in relief of Batista.

2:17 p.m. -- Look out, cause here come the Nats! After plating two against Wagner in the third, they added two more in the fourth off Takashi Saito. Chris Duncan singled to right, Elijah Dukes roped a double to left-center and Mike Morse drilled another double to nearly the exact same spot, bringing home both runners. So it's 4-2 Nationals in the bottom of the fourth, Stammen still on the mound after escaping the third without allowing a run (thanks to Pudge Rodriguez gunning down Heyward trying to steal third).

2:39 p.m. -- And the wheels are coming off once again. Stammen struggles and can't get out of the fourth, allowing four runs on three hits. It didn't help that Ryan Zimmerman made an ill-advised throw to second when he should have taken the easy out at first, nor that Adam Kennedy booted a grounder for a run-scoring error (though that came after Jesse English entered to pitch). English has really gotten lit up, serving up a three-run homer to Freddie Freeman. And one day after allowing the Astros to put up a 9-spot in the fourth inning in Kissimmee, the Nats have allowed the Braves to put up an 8-spot in the fourth inning in Lake Buena Vista. Ugh.

2:43 p.m. -- Controversy here at Disney. They've taken a run off the board for the Braves. We believe Freeman passed a teammate (Joe Thurston) on the bases while in his home run trot, so he was sent back to the dugout and ruled out. Whatever the case, the score is only 9-4, not 10-4, and the homer was only a 2-run single.

3:12 p.m. -- While down in the clubhouse talking to Miguel Batista and Craig Stammen, we heard a reaction from the crowd outside. Turns out Ian Desmond clubbed a grand slam in the top of the sixth, drawing the Nats to within 10-8. That's six RBI and two nice plays in the field today for Desmond.

4:09 p.m. -- To paraphrase the one and only Charlie Slowes (who is in the house today along with Dave Jageler prepping for their radio debut Monday): "Another straight L is in the books." Final score: Braves 11, Nats 8. The pitching staff has now given up 36 runs in three Grapefruit League games. Plenty of postgame quotes and analysis in another post, which will magically appear shortly after I get back from the clubhouse.


Anonymous said...

Mark...Kilgore reports Dunn is at first. Late switch?

JayB said...


Where is Guzman....After all the talk are we about to find out he is still hurt?

natscan reduxit said...

Hello fellow fans,

... I hope it will be alright with you, Mark, if I post this request to other fans on this blog.

... I would like to ask for some information from you. Besides being a rabid Nats fan (with an impeccable pedigree, stemming from Jarry Park), I also dabble in amateur fiction writing, have done so for most of my adult life but have never published ... yet.

... my current project is approaching its conclusion, and I am itching to get started on the next one. It will be a novel about a veteran baseball player, in the bigs, who decides in spring training to hang up his spikes. He is never going to the Hall, nor have a career in the coaching ranks. At ST, he rejects an offer from his big-league club to become a part time coach in 'A' ball, so he moves back home to start the next segment of his life. (The plot will probably revolve around his relationship with his wife and non-athletic son, but who knows at this point.)

... so here's my request: do any of you know where I might go - online stories on the web, or in newspaper archives, names of players I might Google, that kind of thing - to find real life stories of similar situations, i.e, journeyman players who discuss their decision to leave the game and start something new, outside of pro ball.

Go Nats!!

e said...

@JayB -- Guz is here in DC with his wife who is about to give birth.

peric said...

Well then, "Who's on first"? There's one for you book nats reduxit.

Nats fan in NJ said...

Peric - dang, you beat me to that line!!

JayB said...

Thanks e,


When will we know if Guzman is "recovered" from his feet and shoulder? What has you seen when he was in camp?

peric said...

Against Florida Desmond looked pretty good ... and Espinosa's fielding looked atrocious. Desmond seems to be progressing into the position. Guzman's big advantage is the switch hitting. Desmond brings power. Be interesting to see what they do with the top prospects. But some really are just about ready and they can't afford to have another long April-May losing streak.

Mark Zuckerman said...

No Dunn here today, Duncan is indeed at 1B.

As for Guzman, he's perfectly fine health-wise. Jim Riggleman said he's scheduled to start tomorrow in Viera. He's also still on-call to return to D.C. once his wife is ready to give birth, but that hasn't happened yet.

peric said...

BTW,FYI, has some interesting statistical and career comparison analyses of Marerro and Norris. Norris looks like he could
be one of the top catchers in the game if he can learn to be better

peric said...

Mark, where is Aaron Thompson in spring training? Is he even there? The list said he was invited? Or is he being "Carlos Rogers" about being traded to the Nats? Not one word on this guy and technically he does come up in lists as a top 10 to top 20 prospect?

Fake Reiss said...

Re Guzman's health, at least we know his boys can swim!

Mark Zuckerman said...

Aaron Thompson is indeed in camp, and in fact he's slated to throw in today's game.

peric said...

Thanks mucho Mark! Be nice to find out where he is in Rizzo's plans ... if he is considered one of his "top prospects" for whom there is a plan? Compare contrast with Matt Chico?

JayB said...


The Braves broadcasters say Ian D. is really showing great range. How does he look.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Desmond has made two really nice diving plays to his left, though on the most recent one he didn't have enough time to get up and make a throw. We've always known he can make the spectacular play. The question is whether he can consistently make the routine one as well.

Anonymous said...

Any clue what went wrong w/ Stammen? Location? Not mixing up the pitches? This was not the sort of outing we saw last summer.


JayB said...


What are the odds that such a high number of Rizzo's new warms are this bad? I know it is early but when each one gets killed one after another it seems it is possible they suck and Rizzo has fallen into the old trap of over estimating the likelihood that Nas are going to turn journey men arms into serviceable MLB pitchers.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Stammen just said his big problem today was a lack of fastball command. Considering this is the first time he's pitched since having those bone chips removed last September, it's probably understandable. But if it's still an issue the next time or two out ... could be a different story.

greg said...

without necessarily trying to be a "glass half full" guy, i won't get overly worried (or overly excited) about anyone's performance the first week of exhibition games.

Doc said...

Apprapos of Desmond's on-going show to-day, maybe we should make Kennedy the utility infielder!

Nervous Nats Fan said...

Not to be anti-Desmond here, but it seems from the box score that he's been picked off AND caught stealing today. Not the best way to show your base-running skills...

Anonymous said...


What are the odds that such a high number of Rizzo's new arms are among the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball? I know it's early, but these guys are making Gibson and Koufax look like amateurs. J.D. Martin hasn't allowed a baserunner all season! It seems it's possible that Rizzo is the greatest talent evaluator in the history of baseball and we should already be planning his GM of the year party.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Uh, not sure where you're getting that one from.

JayB said...

Good one....I liked that too.....we may well need a good sense of humor yet again this year!

Michael J. Hayde said...

I think Anonymous is yanking JayB's chain... not yours, Mark.

upperdeck4 said...

Who was it that said, "It couldn't get worse"?

Doc said...

I'm d** glad that Rizzo has improved the pitching staff. Think how much worse we'd be if these guys hadn't allowed 36 runs in 3 games!

greg said...


seriously, we need to panic right now.

natsfan1a said...

Natscan (assuming that you might look here later), you might look into the Society of American Baseball Research. The interests of members are diverse (history among them), and quite a few are writers. Here's the URL for the Montreal chapter:

(and of course you'll let us know when it comes out)

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