Matt Chico vs Scott Olsen...Nationals vs Marlins...Spring Opener Preview.

An AP story out of Jupiter, Florida at the examiner.com entitled, "Scott Olsen to start Marlins' spring opener Wednesday against Nationals", has the Marlins starting twenty-four year old lefty Scott Olsen in the Spring Opener against the Washington Nationals, who will start Matt Chico, their own twenty-four year old left-hander, in each team's first game of 2008 at the Marlins' Spring home Roger Dean Stadium tomorrow night at 7:05 pm EST.

Matt Chico's rookie campaign saw the D-Backs' 2003 3rd Round draft pick, (who was acquired by the Nationals along with pitcher Garrett Mock in return for Livan Hernandez in 2006), go (7-9) with 94 K's and a 4.63 ERA in 31 starts, (10 more starts than any other Nationals' starter), and finish the season with the second most wins amongst DC's pitchers in his first season pitching above Double-AA ball.

MLB.com's Bill Ladson quotes Nationals' pitching coach Randy St. Claire in his article entitled, "Notes: Chico to start spring opener", in which Mr. St. Claire says of Chico:

""He is very competitive...He went to the mound every time we asked him to. He is a healthy guy. He will pitch innings for you. He will keep you in the ballgame. I just think if he cuts those walks down, he will find that his ERA will go down.

Scott Olsen, the Marlins' 6th Round pick in 2002 starts his fourth season in Florida at the top of the rotation, trying to improve on a (10-15) 2007, in which the 6'4'', 245 lb left hander posted a 5.81 ERA in 33 starts after going (12-10) with a 4.04 ERA in the previous season, (his first full season in the Majors), after going (22-22) with a 3.06 ERA and 320 K's in 75 starts over 5 seasons in the Marlins' Minor League system.

It appears Nationals' Manager Manny Acta wants to know right away if Nick Johnson can play, because in addition to the starting pitchers', Johnson's is the only other name that has thus far been announced as a starter for Wednesday night's Spring opener. The last line of Washington Post writers' Dave Sheinin and Barry Svrluga's article entitled, "Balester, Detwiler Show How To Make Good Impressions", which highlights two of the Nationals' young pitchers, also reports that:

"...Acta said first baseman Nick Johnson, who is returning from a broken leg suffered 17 months ago, will be in the starting lineup.

Barry Svrluga's "Nationals Journal" post entitled, "Multimedia Extravaganza", at washingtonpost.com contains an interview with Johnson who seems anxious to get back on the field, (and dare I say...out of the interview), but more importantly back on the field.

Cameron Maybin, who was called the, "...centerpiece in December's blockbuster trade with the Tigers," by MLB.com writer Joe Frisaro in his florida.marlins.mlb.com article entitled, "Notes: Maybin showcases skills early", is a former 1st Round pick by Detroit in 2005, and after just two seasons in Class A and Double AA ball, where Maybin hit .309 in 191 games with 35 doubles, 11 triples, 23 HR's and 119 RBI's with 52 steals in 65 chances, the Marlins are hoping the soon-to-be twenty-one year old outfielder can win the starting job in center to clearly show Florida fans why they traded away Miguel Cabrera.

Unlike most Spring Training games where the interest fades after a few innings with the endless scorecard-ravaging substitutions, the Nationals' first few games should give DC fans a good look at all the young arms in the Nationals' camp and the first chance to judge the contests at first, second and short...and anyway it's baseball....FINALLY.

Wednesday night, 7:05 pm...find a way to follow...

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