• Today's Top 5:
5. Marrero Rises: Chris Marrero had trouble handling a low throw from Ryan Zimmerman to first on a Nick Swisher grounder early in today's game, but the Nats' 22-year-old '06 1st Round pick reportedly redeemed himself by starting a nice 3-6-3 DP on a grounder from Curtis Granderson that ended the bottom of the first inning of the Nats' game against the NY Yankees on Saturday. The story on Marrero, who was drafted as a third baseman, moved to the outfield (for obvious reasons) and then converted to a first baseman, has always been that the defense hadn't yet caught up to his bat. Last year, in 141 games at Double-A Harrisburg, the graduate of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Opa Locka, Florida posted a .294/.350/.450 slash line with 28 doubles and 18 HR's in 577 PA's before going to Puerto Rico where he played alongside Nats' second baseman Danny Espinosa and posted a .306/.351/.424 line with four doubles, two HR's and 16 RBI's in 23 games and 85 at bats. In four games this Spring, after going 0 for 3 with a K today, Marrero's 4 for 7 with a double and an RBI. A defensively challenged IF/OF who can rake...is Marrero the next Michael Morse?
4. "Washington as they say in the business, 'Is first to thirding the Yankees to death.'" - John Sterling 880 WABC Radio. Ian Desmond singled in runs in each of his first two at bats Saturday. Desmond's first hit scored Jerry Hairston from second in the first after Hairston had doubled to lead off inning. 1-0. Brian Bixler went first-to-third on a Jerry Hairston single in the third after drawing a walk from Yankees' lefty CC Sabathia in the at bat immediately following Jeff Frazier's leadoff HR. Desmond's second hit brought Bixler in from third for an early 3-0 Nats' lead and Desmond went first to third as Hairston scored on a Ryan Zimmerman double, 4-0, before scoring himself on an RBI sac fly by Michael Morse that made it 5-0 Nationals.
• [Flashback] D.C. GM Mike Rizzo on MLB Network Radio discussing the thinking behind the construction of the Nats' 2011 Roster...
"So we figured that if we do the little things, pick the ball up, limit the outs, stop guys from going first to third, second to home, and us ourselves with the ability to first to third, second to home, is going to make us a markedly better team and a team that's going to be much more difficult to play long-term."
[Rizzo points to head.]
3. One Inning Too Long? With the Nationals up 7-0 following an RBI groundout by Jerry Hairston and an RBI double by Ryan Zimmerman in the top of the fourth, the Nats decided to see if they could get one more inning out of Nats' starter Chad Gaudin, who'd allowed just one hit and faced the minimum number of batters through three innings pitched. A leadoff double by Brett Gardner, a fielding error by Brian Bixler, walk to Curtis Granderson and a second error by Gaudin himself on a weak grounder to the mound by Jorge Posada got the Yankees within five at 7-2. Eric Chavez followed with an RBI single and Gaudin's day was done, with the score 7-3 D.C. It only got worse. Gaudin's replaced on the mound by Josh Wilkie who gives up three straight hits before recording an out, then gives up a two-run one-out triple by Brett Gardner that makes it 8-7 Yankees by the time the fourth is done.
2. What Bryce Harper Did? The Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick entered the game in the fifth taking over in right field for Michael Morse, who moved to third replacing the Face of the Franchise, Ryan Zimmerman. Harper's first AB came in the top of the seventh, when the 18-year-old outfielder-of-the-future worked the count full against Yankees' 24-year-old right-hander Daniel Turpen before grounding out to first. In the top of the eighth, Harper collected his second hit of the Spring, lining to right off 26-year-old right-hander Romulo Sanchez for an RBI single that put Washington up 10-8. In the bottom of the eighth, he tracked down a line drive to right by Yankees' catcher Austin Romine that went over his head and then picked up an assist on a play at third, throwing to Bixler who threw to Alberto Gonzalez, who tagged Romine when the Yankee prospect got greedy. Don't run on Harper...they'll learn.
1. Stairs Rakes: Harper's RBI hit put the Nationals up 10-8 over New York, giving the 18-year-old prospect his second Spring Training hit, but it was 43-year-old Matt Stairs who tied it at 8-8 with an RBI ground-rule double in the seventh that scored Michael Morse from second and moved Jesus Flores to third so he could score the winning run when the Yankees misplayed a Kevin Barker grounder in the next AB. 9-8 Nats. Stairs is battling for a spot on the bench as a late inning option at the plate. So far this Spring, the veteran of 18 MLB seasons and 13 MLB teams (including the Nats) is 2 for 6 with three RBI's.
• Game Notes: Jerry Hairston, Jr. was 2 for 6 on the day with a double and 2 runs scored. Ian Desmond ended up 2 for 3 with 2 RBI's. Ryan Zimmerman was 2 for 3 with 2 doubles. Jeff Frazier launched a HR off CC Sabathia, who was having trouble locating his fastball apparently. Frazier ended up 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored. Brian Bixler was 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored. Justin Maxwell, now with NY, continued the search for contact, but found none, going 0 for 2 with 2 K's today. Derek Norris was 0 for 1 with 2 walks, further the legend of his unmatched patience at the plate. After Gaudin and Wilkie got hit hard in the fourth, Craig Stammen, Atahualpa Severino, Sean Burnett and Adam Carr combined to shut the Yankees out over the final five innings, allowing just three hits to the Yanks' prospect-filled lineup.