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Spring Training: Game 8 Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Detroit Tigers

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2 N's, 4 Pitches...

Today at Space Coast...Jordan Zimmermann showed the Mets what a top prospect from the Nationals' system looks like now, and gave New York a preview of what they'll be facing when the 5th spot in the rotation lines up with them this season. Three scoreless and hitless innings against an odd assortment of Mets gives the 22-year-old right-hander out of Auburndale, Wisconsin, five no-hit innings this spring as he tries to earn a spot in the DC rotation for 2009 after just two seasons as a pro.

Zimmermann was selected by Washington with the 67th pick in the 2nd Round of the 2007 draft, in part, as MLB.com's Bill Ladson described in an article on the '07 Draft class entitled, "Nats stick with pitching at top of draft", because the Nationals were impressed, "that he once pitched with a broken jaw, which was wired together."

Back then, Mr. Ladson highlighted Zimmerman(n)'s three-pitch arsenal of, "an above-average fastball, changeup and curve," but more recently, Mr. Ladson noted, in another article entitled, "Balester, Zimmermann shine" after his first outing of the year, that he'd added a slider, resulting in what's referred to by DC Manager Manny Acta, as quoted in an article by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan entitled, "The Special, Electric and Great Jordan Zimmermann", as Zimmermann's "'electric' four-pitch repetoire".

At the time of Mr. Ladson's article, "Balester, Zimmermann shine", which was published on 2/26/09, the Nationals were reportedly considering each of the titular pitchers for rotation spots, but in his post game report today entitled, "Zimmermann's poise impressing Nats", Mr. Ladson starts by stating:

" Nationals right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Collin Balester are battling for the fifth spot in the rotation."

Did someone announce the other four names and not tell me? John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, Zimmerman/Balester and...? Has Shawn Hill impressed enough to earn the spot already? Collin Balester? Bally? Well..he came on after Zimmermann this afternoon, and gave up 5 hits, 1BB and 4 ER's all on 2 HR's, but he got the W in Washington's 6-4 victory over New York. 

(ed. note - "I scanned the comments for Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post entitled, "Up For Grabs", to see if anyone was struck by the lines which caught my attention, but no one seemed to be...DC Manager Manny Acta responded to a question about whether Collin Balester had a spot in the rotation to lose due to his experience last season, by saying, "What's big league experience? A 5.00 something ERA? That doesn't give you a head start on anybody. It's wide open." Right? That's kinda harsh, Manny...or is this one of those 'tough love' things?...and for the record it was a 5.51 ERA...")

I'll Just Keep Saying It, Do NOT Trade Nick Johnson...

So far this Spring, after homering off Mets' starter Mike Pelfrey in the first inning of yesterday's game, Nick Johnson is 2 for 8 with 2 HR's and 3 RBI's. 

If, However, Someone Would Like To Trade With DC...

Call Mike Rizzo. Just don't call Mike Rizzo GM...yet? I found myself confused after reading all of this morning's reports about Rizzo taking over the "team's major league operations" as Washington Times' writer Ben Goessling, for example, described Rizzo's expanded role in an article entitled, "Rizzo's audition starts with more authority", and I was wondering why this promotion lacked the attachment of the term "interim" to Rizzo's title, and Mr. Goessling too wondered aloud as he wrote:

"It's difficult to see Rizzo's role as the de facto GM as anything but an audition for the permanent job. Though a number of executives have been recommended to the Nationals or expressed interest in the post - Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava, Rays assistant GM Gerry Hunsicker and Rangers special adviser John Hart among them - a National League executive said most in the game believe Rizzo eventually will land the job."

You, the Federal Baseball.com readers voted overwhelmingly for Rizzo's ascension to the General Manager position in a recent poll, where Mr. Rizzo's received 75 of 112 votes cast, though only Blue Jays' GM Tony LaCava's name had been available as an alternative option at the time the poll began. Later in Mr. Goessling's article, Team President Stan Kasten does tell the Times' writer, "...he dislikes interim titles precisely because they suggest instability," which is something Washington's trying to avoid these days. So he's going to become the next GM or not? I'm still confused...

GAME 8 GAME THREAD...

Washington vs Detroit. Shawn Hill on the mound in the Tigers' Spring home, Joker Marchant Stadium, where Zach Miner throws for the hosts. The Nationals took a 2-1 decision from the Tigers in the second game this Spring at Space Coast. Hill threw a scoreless inning in his first outing against the Astros last Thursday. Miner's already appeared in two games this Spring, and the right-hander has allowed 9 hits and 5 runs in 4.0 innings, with 5 of those runs and 7 hits coming in his last appearance Sunday night against the Pirates. Joker Marchant was Lakeland, Florida's Parks and Recreation Director, who helped to establish Tigertown and told the crowd at the opening in 1966 of the stadium which bears his name, "Y'all put the peanut shells in your pockets and don't be messing up my new stadium," according to city of Lakeland's official homepage. 

The game starts at 1:05 pm EST. No radio coverage far as I can tell, but we all like to watch the scoreboard...Who's Watching The Watchm...Oh that's what I'm doing tomorrow night...this afternoon, It's the Nationals and the Tigers...Who's Watching the Nationals?