• Sunday Afternoon Top 5:
5. RIP: Mitchell Page. 59-year-old former Washington Nationals' Hitting Coach Mitchell Page reportedly passed away last night. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) retweeted a report by ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez (@PerezEd) who was the first to find out about the former major leaguer's death. Page, who'd worked as the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting coach from 2002 to 2004, was the Nats' Hitting Coach in 2006 after working with the team in 2005. Page left the bench for personal reasons in 2007. A veteran of eight major league seasons, seven with the Oakland A's and one with the Pirates, Page posted a .266/.346/.429 slash line in 673 games and 2,398 plate appearances in his career.
4. Morgan vs The Marlins: It's not likely that Ricky Nolasco hit Nyjer Morgan with an 0-2 fastball on purpose, but with the history Morgan has with the Fish following last year's brawl, and after the chorus of boos which greeted his approach to the plate this afternoon in the Marlins' Spring home, the rivalry between Morgan and the Marlins, or at least with their fans, has apparently not cooled this Winter. Morgan stole second on Nolasco on a 3-0 strike. A walk to Alex Cora put two Nats on with no one out, and two outs later Rick Ankiel stepped to the plate, tried to bunt on the first pitch he saw, but ended up lining to right to score two, 2-0 Nats. In the next AB, Nolasco hit Danny Espinosa in the head, but the Nationals' second baseman took first, and appeared to be fine, but was down for a minute or so at the plate. (ed. note - Post game reports said Espinosa was fine.")
3. Werth Gets A Gift: Ricky Nolasco had a hard time controlling his fastball early on as evidenced by the two HBP's in the first, but it was a hanging curve on the final pitch he'd throw that Jayson Werth ripped by third for a two-out, RBI double to left that scored Alex Cora from first after the Marlins' starter had given up a two-out single to the Nats' infielder. A walk to Adam LaRoche by Nolasco's replacement, lefty Randy Choate, and a two-out, two-run double by Rick Ankiel that hung up on the wind and glanced off Logan Morrison's glove later it's 5-0 Nationals after an inning and a half.
2. 2011's No.1?: After a scoreless first in which he allowed only a one-out single by Omar Infante, and a quick second in which he got three fly ball outs, Nats' right-hander Jordan Zimmermann missed with a full-count fastball inside and issued a one-out walk to Marlins' catcher Brad Davis in the third, but he got Chris Coghlan to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP in the next at bat. One note: It was easy to miss on the broadcast of the Nats/Fish game on MLB.tv, as they cut quickly to a commercial after the double play ended the Marlins' third, but the slick, quick scoop Nats' first baseman Adam LaRoche made to field a low throw from second by Danny Espinosa was definitely noticed and noted by Nats fans and writers following the game. Jordan Zimmermann left an 0-2 pitch up for Gaby Sanchez, who doubled to left in the fourth, but a Logan Morrison pop to center later, it's 4.0 scoreless for the 24-year-old Nats' '07 2nd Round pick.
After giving up a two-out line drive single to Bryan Petersen, who drove a fastball outside through short, Zimmermann got up 0-2 quickly on Brad Davis, wasted a pitch, teasing with a slider in the dirt outside the Marlins' catcher wouldn't chase, then missed with a fastball outside that Nats' catcher Jesus Flores caught and fired to first in an attempt to pick Petersen off. He was safe. Zimmermann dangled a 2-2 curve over the middle of the plate that dropped in under Davis' bat for a swinging K. 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K's.
1. Wild: Reports of Henry Rodriguez's control issues were not exaggerated. The former Oakland A's prospect, acquired along with outfielder Corey Brown this winter in a deal that sent Josh Willingham to the AL West, took over for Jordan Zimmermann in the bottom of the sixth. Rodriguez was hurt by the elements in his first AB when a fly to left got caught on the wind, twisting Eury Perez in circles before it fell in fair for a double. The rest of his issues were all his own as the right-hander, who was hitting 92-94 on the Marlins' broadcast's gun, 95-97 on the stadium gun according to Twitter, couldn't throw his fastball for a strike. High, real high, low, inside, out and all over the place, but not in the zone. 23 pitches, eight strikes, according to Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore on Twitter (@AdamKilgoreWP). Three walks. The last one forced in a run and ended Rodriguez's first outing. The Venezuelan-born starter-turned-reliever got a late start to Spring Training because of visa issues. But what he showed today did not impress.
• Notes: Nats' right-hander Cole Kimball got through a quick scoreless ninth for the Nats, and it didn't take much for him to retire the Marlins in order. Alex Cora was 1 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. Jayson Werth ended the day 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Rick Ankiel was 2 for 5 with a double and 4 RBI's. Adam LaRoche was 1 for 3 with a walk and a K.
Nationals win 5-1.