Wire Taps: Washington Nationals Weekend In Review - Drew Storen's Back; Jordan Zimmermann's Change

USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals played the first two games of the Grapefruit League season this weekend, but there were still stories pulling Nats fans back to the end of the 2012 campaign. Drew Storen's back. Stephen Strasburg's innings limit? So 2012, c'mon. Jordan Zimmermann looked sharp Sunday, but not everyone is ready to move on just yet...

Asked about CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman's article on Drew Storen dealing with back issues (spasms) during the last few games of last October's NLDS, Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters this weekend that what he remembered from the stunning Game 5 loss was a pitcher who was trying to be "too fine" and just missing the strike zone. "The only thing I recall is he didn’t throw many strikes," Johnson said, "and I attribute it to trying to be too fine." Johnson said the same was true with Gio Gonzalez. He didn't, however, think that back spasms, or any injuries were the issue. "I don't think anybody was overly tired," the 70-year-old Nats' skipper said, "Again, I just attribute it more just to a little inexperience situation, trying to do too much. And that comes with lack of experience."

Drew Storen declined to comment when asked about the report after he blew a save in Sunday's Spring Training game against the Miami Marlins, telling reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson, "'It's not an issue. It's done. It's about results. It didn't work out well. Move past it.'"

In an appearance on MLB Network's Hot Stove show this morning, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked about the report, and the general manager said that as much time as he spent around the team late last season, he heard nothing about Storen's back issues. "I'm with the team quite a bit," Rizzo said, "I'm on every road trip and obviously at that time of the year you're with the club constantly and really it was news to me about the 'excruciating' back pain and that type of thing. We knew that he was getting some treatment, and it's really the responsibility of the player if he's not ready to go, if he's not able to go, to tell the manager and be honest with him."

"But Drew's a warrior," the GM continued, "He's going to battle through things and pitch through things and the way I saw him pitch, his velocity was really good, his stuff was really good. He was just missing on some of his pitches, and I credit the Cardinals' hitters more so than I blame Storen's pitching, because there were some outstanding at bats there in that inning. They were taking some pitches that were just off the plate, and they were off the plate. And they were putting together some great at bats."

So, it's over with, right? Move on like Storen said, right? Yeah, I doubt that will be the case too... But we're moving on. Links and lots of them starting RIGHT NOW!!!

• THE BIG STORY!!!:

• "[Jordan] Zimmermann was far more efficient than Stephen Strasburg yesterday against the Mets, completing his first two innings on only 23 pitches and thus getting the opportunity to return to the mound for the third inning." - "Zimmermann strong in spring training debut" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

Lineup vs the Mets:

• "There are plenty of top prospects making the trip, however, so it will still be interesting to see how they fare against the New York Mets." - "Monday's travel roster and lineup, plus pitching schedules" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• NATS BEAT:

• "'He’s got a good change-up,' [Steve] McCatty said. 'Does he need it? It would be really helpful, beneficial, not just for him but anybody.'" - Steve McCatty On Jordan Zimmermann - "Jordan Zimmermann starts strong" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "Last spring, [Drew] Storen came out in his first outing and, in his words, ‘Let it eat.’ After that outing he began to feel pain in his right elbow." - "Jordan Zimmermann pleased with spring debut; Drew Storen easing into things" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The Nats held a 2-1 lead going into the top of the ninth, but Drew Storen surrendered a run on an RBI groundout that knotted the game and forced extra innings." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson discusses Zimmermann, Storen and more after 2-2 tie" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

Zimmermann On Zimmermann:

• "By the time spring training ends, Jordan Zimmermann wants to have enough confidence in his changeup that he can throw it in any count." - "Storen gives up lead in 9th, Nationals tie Marlins" - AP/WTOP.com

• "Two days after CBSSports.com reported that Drew Storen pitched with back spasms in Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series against the Cardinals, the Nationals reliever declined to discuss his health during the game." - "Storen declines comment on report" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Drew] Storen has learned about how much his competitive streak can burn him during the early Grapefruit League schedule." - "Drew Storen dismisses blown save, Danny Espinosa feeling strong" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "[Danny] Espinosa worked throughout the offseason to strengthen the muscles around his rotator cuff to compensate for what he’s described as basically a complete tear." - "Danny Espinosa feels happily 'normal' after putting shoulder through first game action" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Under normal circumstances, few would have even noticed [Drew] Storen's linescore from what proved to be a 2-2, 10-inning tie that also featured a 1-hour, 6-minute rain delay." - "Storen shrugs off blown save" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "'It's nice to win and all that right now, but in the end, it's about preparing yourself for the season. It's about the 162, not the whatever-we're-playing this spring. That's the way I look at it.'" - Drew Storen - "Nationals Pastime: Storen far from worried after blown save, plus Espinosa quotes" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Drew] Storen is trying to be more cautious this spring after having surgery to repair a bone spur in the elbow last year in Spring Training and for him this was a good start in hopes of not being too amped up and trying to overdo things." - "Nats and Fish play to a tie" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com

• "After Sunday's game, however, manager Davey Johnson was not concerned about [Drew] Storen's outing." - "Anthony Rendon homers in Nats' tie with Marlins" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Danny] Espinosa worked throughout the offseason to strengthen the muscles around his rotator cuff to compensate for what he’s described as basically a complete tear." - "Danny Espinosa feels happily 'normal' after putting shoulder through first game action" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "With the unfortunate news that Spencer Kieboom is out for the season due to Tommy John surgery, [Justin] Miller's switch to catcher becomes even more critical to organizational depth at the position." - "Three Nationals prospects learning new spots as accelerated development program begins" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "[Davey] Johnson watched how [Anthony] Rendon operated around the second base bag and gave a few pointers to the 2011 first-round pick, who soaked in as much information as he could." - "Nationals Pastime: Rendon shares laughs with his skipper, shines on both sides of the ball" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Anthony] Rendon checked the coaches’ room. He checked Johnson’s office. No sign of the manager. Finally, Rendon left the park." - "Anthony Rendon flashes his potential at Washington Nationals spring training" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "Perhaps the defensive highlight of yesterday's game was [Anthony] Rendon's third-inning play at third base, when he came charging in to snag Chone Figgins' bunt barehanded..." - "Rendon makes the most of opportunity" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "Jordan Zimmermann was pleased with his outing this afternoon, a three-inning, 43-pitch performance that saw him surrender one run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout." - "Nationals Pastime: Rendon goes yard, Zimmermann feels his changeup is improving" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "'I was watching [Davey Johnson] walk around the dugout telling everyone to sit down,' [Anthony] Rendon said. 'I was sitting quietly, making sure he might not see me.'" - "Rendon has good day both at plate, with glove" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

Audio: "D.C. banks on Nationals Youth Baseball Academy to excite kids" - WTOP.com

• "If [Bill] Bray can prove himself healthy and effective in the next five weeks, he could give the Nationals an element they would not otherwise have – a shutdown lefty out of the bullpen." - "Bill Bray’s mechanics still a work in progress" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

•"The way [Micah] Owings unfurls his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame and sends scorching line drives toward the opposite field makes one thing eminently clear..." - "Micah Owings eyes move to position of power" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Nationals right-hander Christian Garcia will be shut 10-to-14 days to rest his strained forearm, manager Davey Johnson said this morning." - "Garcia shut down 10-14 days" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "Spring Training is the classic time for optimism. But in the case of the Washington Nationals, run-of-the-mill optimism is simply not sufficient for the magnitude of this task." - "After 98 wins, Nationals poised for even more" - Mike Bauman, nationals.com: News

• "That’s why the Washington Nationals are second-guessing their once-strong support of the WBC. They’re losing left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler, two key starters behind Stephen Strasburg. That’s a big cut in the Nationals’ spring training roster." - "World Baseball Classic Not A Good Idea For Wright, Cano" - Ernie Palladino, CBS New York

• "Stephen Strasburg brought star appeal to the game — and promptly allowed a two-run homer to Ruben Tejada in the first inning — but the 22-year-old Wheeler certainly has the tools to potentially approach the Nationals ace." - "Zach Wheeler of New York Mets impresses in spring training debut on way to 5-3 victory over Washington Nationals" - Mike Puma, NYPOST.com

• "First baseman Adam LaRoche, who had a terrific season in helping lead the Nationals to the best record in baseball, had to settle for a two-year, $26-million contract as a free agent." - "New rule that negatively impacted some of best free agents needs to go" - Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com

• "Personally, I can’t imagine [Stephen] Strasburg being allowed to throw 200 regular-season innings this year, not with the Nationals hopeful of playing deep into October." - "Thinking about Stephen Strasburg’s workload" - Matthew Pouliot, HardballTalk

• "Bryce Harper Renders Unto You A Clown Catch, Bro" - Bradley Woodrum, NotGraphs Baseball

• "'It’s just about going up there and trying to track the ball and then trying to barrel it,' [Anthony Rendon] said a few hours before his first start of the spring, a 2-2, 10-inning tie against the Miami Marlins." - "Nationals' Rendon shows why he's a barrel of hits" - John Torres, FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "February 25: Senators BirthdaysJames Millard Hayes B Feb. 25, 1912 D Nov. 27, 1963" - "This Date in Washington Senators History" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "An ambitious new brewery is coming to the renovated Boilermaker Shops in the Near Southeast neighborhood near Nationals Park in Washington, D.C." - "DC: Bluejacket will be an atypical craft brewery near Nationals Park" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• "The foul poles at Space Coast Stadium now say 'NL East Champions'" - Nats Enquirer

• "After a 1:06 rain delay and an extra inning, the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins decided on Sunday they’d seen enough Spring Training baseball and called the game..." - "Washington Nationals Spring Training: There’s no tying in baseball (except Spring Training)" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page

• "Washington mayor Vincent Gray was at Space Coast Stadium to watch the Nationals play the Marlins on Sunday afternoon." - "Mayor Gray among Nats' Spring Training fans" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "'It's kind of just a slow and steady pace to build my arm up,' [Matt] Purke said today. 'Then after that I'll be starting to throw full-speed and get into games and things like that.'" - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson reminisces, Purke progressing, Mayor Gray visits Viera" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The development around Nationals Park has been much slower than anticipated when the team opened the new ballpark in the spring of 2008, but there have been signs of movement lately." - "Vincent Gray optimistic an All-Star Game is in Nationals Park’s future" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Mayor Vincent C. Gray visited Nationals spring training over the weekend, attending their Grapefruit League opener against the Mets in Port St. Lucie and throwing out the first pitch before the home opener at Space Coast Stadium." - "The mayor dropped by Nationals spring training" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "While the rest of the Nats were busy tying the Marlins on the second day of Spring Training games, a quintet of D.C. baseball stars took in Jimmie Johnson’s victory in the Daytona 500." - "Werth, Zimmerman and LaRoche at Daytona 500" - Dan Steinberg, Washington Post

• "It was a glorious day for baseball fans everywhere. After four cold, depressing, baseball-less months, there were live games on TV again." - "Nats Drop First Spring Training Game To Mets, 5-3" - Erin Flynn, The Nats Blog

• "'I had the idea to do it early in the morning, because there’d be less people around,' said D.C. based photographer Simon Bruty, who has shot dozens of SI covers and a memorable Alex Ovechkin portrait." - "How and why Sports Illustrated photographed Bryce Harper at the Lincoln Memorial" - Dan Steinberg, Washington Post

• "Video: Bryce Harper makes a circus catch in Nats Spring Training opener" - Nats Enquirer

• "Stars were seen, albeit briefly, home runs were hit, balls were kicked around a bit as players shook off the rust of the offseason and nobody cared a lick about the final score." - "A Walk In The Park" - Curly W Live

• "Rendon Smacks HR In Nats Spring Home Opener" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "Five Nats Visit The Daytona 500" - The Nats Blog

• "Nats Spring Update after 2 games" - Mark Buterbaugh, DC Pro Sports Report

• "Nats: Boswell thinks Davey Johnson is – THE MOST INTERESTING MANAGER IN THE WORLD" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• "Jayson Werth at the Daytona 500" - Nats Enquirer

• "Nats Spring Update after 2 games" - Mark Buterbaugh, DC Pro Sports Report

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies: "Philadelphia Phillies Top 15 Prospects (2012-13)" - Marc Hulet, FanGraphs Baseball

Mets: "From the day he took over until now, this is what general manager Sandy Alderson thinks about the Mets’ pitching: 'Substantially better.'" - "Alderson stockpiling big arms for Mets' future" - Kevin Kernan, NYPOST.com

Marlins: "Giancarlo Stanton has conquered major league walls coast to coast with his tape-measure blasts." - "JUPITER: Simple spring goal for Miami Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton: Staying healthy" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

Braves: "'His stuff wasn’t like I saw in the Dominican,' said manager Fredi Gonzalez, who along with Braves general manager Frank Wren saw Teheran pitch six innings of one-hit ball with no walks and eight strikeouts in a winter-league game in December." - "Teheran confident; Schafer has big day" - David O'Brien, www.ajc.com

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