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5. Zimmermann's Year? Not HIs Day Though...Washington Nationals' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will be on an innings-limit this season, in his first full year back following Tommy John surgery late in the summer of 2009.
According to reports out of the final manager's meeting of the Spring this morning with Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman, the 24-year-old '07 2nd Round pick will pitch somewhere around 150-165 innings this season. In five starts and 20.0 IP this Spring, the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born former University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point starter had allowed just 21 hits, six runs, (all earned) and seven walks while striking out 13 batters. In an interview on MLB Network Radio last Friday, Zimmermann told hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern that in his first few starts, he,"... was a little hit and miss with the fastball early, the first couple games, and the last couple it's been a lot better and the control is pretty much pinpoint right now."
Against the Mets this afternoon, Zimmermann struggled early...
...allowing a leadoff single by Jose Reyes and a two-out single by Carlos Beltran to put runners on the corners before Lucas Duda flew out to left to end the inning. After giving up a leadoff walk in the second and then back-to-back singles that load the bases, Zimmermann gives up a three-run double by Mets' starter Chris Capuano, who puts New York up 3-0 before an out is recorded. A groundout moves Capuano to third and a fielding error by Danny Espinosa allows him to score to make it 4-0. According to live reports it takes Zimmermann 32 pitches to get out of the second. In the third Ike Davis doubles with one down, but Zimmermann retires the side and he's done after just 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K's and 63 pitches, 42 strikes (according to NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman @MarkZuckerman on Twitter.)
4. RISP FAIL: After the Mets put four runs up on Zimmermann and the Nats in the top of the frame, Washington loads the bases in the botttom of the second when Adam LaRoche draws a leadoff walk and Jerry Hairston and Danny Espinosa hit back-to-back singles off Mets' lefty Chris Capuano. Pudge Rodriguez lines out (avoiding the DP) in the next AB. Jordan Zimmmermann flies out to to left, but new Nats' Third Base Coach Bo Porter holds LaRoche at third, (those in attendance wondered why), so Ian Desmond's inning-ending groundout strands three and the Nats trail 4-0 after two.
Pudge Rodriguez, in spite of his offensive woes last year, and his serious issues with DP grounders in particular, managed to hit in 6 of 19 plate appearances with the bases loaded in 2010, though he did ground into five bases-loaded double plays. He also hit in 34 of 106 at bats with runners in scoring position, with 12 RISP DP grounders. Ian Desmond was 6 for 11 with the bases loaded last year, 38 for 138 with RISP, but neither cashed in on this afternoon's opportunities.
Pudge got another AB with the bases loaded in the Nats' fifth after Jerry Hairston's bases-loaded fielder's choice groundout scored Brian Bixler from third and a HBP on Danny Espinosa filled them back up. The Nats add a run to go along with Adam LaRoche's solo HR the previous inning, cutting the Mets lead to 4-2 when Bixler scores, but Rodriguez's groundout ends the inning and the Nats end the game, which they lose 8-2, 2 for 11 with RISP on the day... 13 LOB...
Food alright?" - Frank Alexander, Clockwork Orange: Reports about Adam LaRoche's "slight" labrum tear did stress that it was only when the left-handed hitting first baseman had to throw the ball, that he felt any pain. LaRoche hit his first HR of the Spring this afternoon off Mets' reliever Pedro Beato and showed no signs of any shoulder issues in his first game back after sitting for a few days to rest . 4-1 Mets after LaRoche's blast. In post game comments as recorded by the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) on Twitter, LaRoche said, "...the cortisone shot he received for the slight labral tear "did exactly what we wanted it to," and he was,"Not 100%, but unconcerned."
2. Who'll Close On Thursday...If They Need A Closer?: Brian Broderick, Tyler Clippard and Doug Slaten all ended their respective Springs with scoreless innings in relief of Jordan Zimmermann this afternoon, but Drew Storen managed to match Zimmermann's line in just two-thirds of an inning pitched, allowing seven hits and four runs, all earned before Todd Coffey sprinted to the mound and stranded three, saving the Nats' closer-in-training from adding any more to his 11.12 Spring ERA. Coffey completed 1.1 scoreless and Sean Burnett gave up a walk in an otherwise easy ninth. If Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman has a lead in the the ninth on Thursday, who gets the ball?
1. 15-14 In Games That Don't Matter: The Washington Nationals were guaranteed a winning record this Spring, their first since since the franchise moved to D.C., but they drop the Grapefruit League finale. The Spring standouts?:
• Michael Morse: 21 G, 14 for 66, .364/.421/.818, 3 2B, 9 HR's, 18 RBI's.
• Ian Desmond: 21 G, 20 for 69, .290/.364/.435, 6 2B, 2 3B.
• Wilson Ramos: 20 G, 17 for 48, .354/.392/.479, 3 2B, 1 HR.
• Bryce Harper: 13 G, 7 for 18, .389/.450/.556, 3 2B.
• Brian Broderick: (0-1), 2.30 ERA, 11 G, 15.2 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K's.
• Cole Kimball: (0-0), 1.13 ERA, 6 G, 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K's.
• Collin Balester: (1-0), 1.59 ERA, 10 G, 11.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K's.
• Jordan Zimmermann: (2-2), 6 G, 23.0 IP, 28 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 8 BB, 15 K's.