Washington Nationals: Win 7-4 Over St. Louis Cardinals, Name Bullpen, Prepare To Disappoint Fans.

• Nats vs Cards: Recap Of A Game I Didn't Hear:

I tried to log on and listen to the MLB.com Gameday Audio of this afternoon's Nats/St. Louis Cardinals game only to find that the scheduled broadcast was unavailable (until the ninth, or at least that's when I noticed it finally came through), so for the second-straight day I was left piecing together the information available in the live box scores and via updates from the Nationals beat writers posting play by play or at least inning-ending reports from Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium where Washington beat St. Louis 7-4 this afternoon on the strength of starter John Lannan's resilient effort and the bats of Willie Harris, Pudge Rodriguez and Roger Bernadina...

Willie Harris was 3 for 3 with a run scored and a walk leading off for Washington. Harris singled in each of his first two at bats, scoring on an RBI groundout by Adam Kennedy in the first, and doubled in his third AB in the fifth before walking in his final at bat in the seventh. Roger Bernadina started in right this afternoon, (with Harris, the Opening Day right fielder starting at third), and Bernadina must have realized the opportunity he was being given because the 25-year-old outfielder's 2 for 4, 2 SB performance, in which he scored a run on a John Lannan hit and knocked in Justin Maxwell to put Washington up 7-4 in the eighth, definitely caught the attention of everyone following the game. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez's sixth-inning HR off Cards' starter Adam Wainwright was the eventual game-winner, putting the Nats up 5-4 at the time. The 38-year-old future Hall of Fame catcher's now hit in 11 of 33 Spring at bats with a double, HR and 9 RBI's in 12 games. With Jesus Flores still out and expected to begin the season on the DL, as much as some questioned DC GM Mike Rizzo's decision to offer a 2-year deal to lure Rodriguez to the nation's capital, it's looking like a prescient move...

John Lannan had trouble locating his fastball early in today's start according to most reports, walking two and giving up an RBI double, sac fly and single that put Washington down 3-0 before they'd even come up to bat, but the Nationals' Opening Day lefty showed the same ability to keep the team in games that he has the last two seasons in DC by limiting the Cardinals to just one more run in his 5.2 innings of work, over which he threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes, allowing 8 hits and 4 ER while collecting 4 K's. With one start to go before Opening Day against Philadelphia on April 5th, Lannan's now K'd 10, walked 4 and given up 16 hits and 7 ER in 4 starts and 16.2 IP this Spring. Lannan left the game with Washington down 4-3...

• To The Bullpen: 

Jason Bergmann, who came on after Lannan and claimed the W, his second this Spring, was named to the Nationals' bullpen by DC Skipper Jim Riggleman this morning, along with Matt Capps, Brian Bruney, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett and Miguel Batista, with Batista singled out for duty as a long-man and potential fill-in starter according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article today entitled, "Batista to be Nationals' long man", which quoted the 39-year-old right-hander explaining why DC GM Mike Rizzo and Mr. Riggleman wanted him on the roster: 

"'[Rizzo] saw me be a swing man back in 2001 and '03,' Batista said. 'I was the best-paid swing man in the game. [A] lot of people never looked it at that way. I played for Riggleman. He told me, 'I still have my fastball. You are a guy that is mentally strong to do this. Every team needs a guy like you. You're my man.'"

Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Miguel Batista rounds out the Nationals bullpen", kept open the possibility of left-hander Jesse English or right-hander Tyler Walker making the roster if Rizzo and Riggleman decided to keep seven relievers at the start of the season. 

Bergmann (1.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 K's), Tyler Clippard (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K), and Brian Bruney (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER), followed Lannan this afternoon, holding the Cardinals scoreless after the fourth. 

Desmond Fans, Prepare To Be Disappointed: 

Cristian Guzman was 1 for 4 with a run scored in this afternoon's game, leaving the 32-year-old infielder with 7 hits in 10 games and 30 at bats this Spring as he's recovered from offseason surgery on his right shoulder. His performance at the plate hasn't been the biggest concern for the Nationals, however, (hmm, why isn't it), who have been more interested in seeing Guzman throwing at full strength from short. MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote this evening in a post entitled, "Guzman making a case to be starting shortstop", that DC Skipper Jim Riggleman is no longer concerned about Guzman's shoulder: 

"'He is playing fine. His style of throwing is not to get up there and gun it. It's not what he does,' Riggleman said. 'The ball is getting across the infield nicely. He has a good velocity on his throws. Guzzie is doing fine.'"

The decision on who's going to start the season at short is reportedly coming soon. DC GM Mike Rizzo's on record saying that he wants Ian Desmond playing short full-time somewhere, whether it's DC or Triple-A Syracuse, Cristian Guzman's due $8M and incapable, or at least seemingly unwilling to play any other position, so it's hard to imagine Guzman filling the super-utility role that Riggleman mentions as an option in Mr. Ladson's blog post. Will Desmond, who's hit in 15 of 50 at bats this Spring, with 5 doubles, 1 HR and a team-leading 12 RBI's be sent back to Syracuse to work on his defense while Cristian Guzman plays out the final year of his contract? It seems more and more likely...

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