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Spring Training: Washington Nationals Beat Florida Marlins, Roger Bernadina Wants To Play.

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VIERA FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Roger Bernadina #2 of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day at Space Coast Stadium on February 25 2011 in Viera Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
VIERA FL - FEBRUARY 25: Roger Bernadina #2 of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day at Space Coast Stadium on February 25 2011 in Viera Florida. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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• Today's Top 5:

5. The RZO Motivates: Asked this afternoon during an appearance on 106.7 the FAN in DC's Mike Wise Show (@MikeWiseGuy) with Holden Kushner (@holdenradio) about Spring Training this year and what was different about the competitive atmosphere compared to previous seasons, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo explained that he thought it was a result of "a greater energy" in camp and the "brisk competition in several positions," and the general manager then recounted how he'd made a "small little speech" to the team at the start of Spring Training, in which he'd explained that, "there's playing time, there [are] at bats, there [are] innings to be had here, there's money to be made, and the competition will feed that and we think we'll be better off for it."

4. The Battle For LF: Veteran outfielder Rick Ankiel is surely prepared to compete, and with his solo HR in the seventh inning today, the 31-year-old outfielder joined both Michael Morse and Roger Bernadina in the battle for playing time in left field with the Nats. All three obviously realize that they have a chance to play themselves into a substantial role on the Nationals' major league roster this Spring, though the battle's more between Bernadina and Ankiel if it's going to be a platoon as the Nats have said since letting Josh Willingham walk. Bernadina knows he's in a fight. The Shark took Fish right-hander Josh Johnson deep to right field for a three-run blast this afternoon which the Nats' PR on Twitter (@NationalsPR) described as an "absolute bomb" that put Washington up 4-0 after Ryan Zimmerman drove in a run with a single to make it 1-0. Zimmerman then hit an RBI groundout to put the Nationals up 5-0 and end Johnson's first start of the Spring. Ankiel's response later in the game put the Nats up 6-4 after the Marlins rallied to within two in a game the Nats ended up winning 8-4.

• Miss the game? The DC Faithful were following the live box score...

3. Rotation Wars: Nats' lefty John Lannan retired the first six batters he faced this afternoon, then the 26-year-old left-hander let the next three batters on, giving up a single, a walk and an RBI line drive that made it 5-1 Washington. A double play followed, but a HBP gave Hanley Ramirez a two-out at bat, and the Marlins' shortstop's single got Florida within three before Lannan recorded the last out of the third. DWL Legend Yunesky Maya was the next pitcher on the mound, and the Cuban-born right-hander impressed the D.C. press corps based on their tweeted reports:

Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (@AdamKiigoreWP): "...Maya had four swing-and-misses. Good hop on the fastball. Had the big, loopy curve."

CSN Washington/'s Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman): "2 scoreless innings of relief for Yunesky Maya, who looked impressive. Started a nice 1-6-3 DP as well."

Maya on Maya via's Bill Ladson (@washingnats): "A prediction from #Nats RHP Yunesky Maya: 'The Cuban kid is gonna win 20.'"

Yesterday it was Detwiler taking the mound after Livan Hernandez, today it was Maya after Lannan. Jordan Zimmermann throws tomorrow when the Nationals take on the Cardinals. Jason Marquis starts Friday. While they are battling for a spot in the Opening Day rotation, as the Nats learned last year, with injuries, missed starts and rough stretches, they'll likely all see time on the mound in the majors this season. The pitchers who followed today, J.D. Martin? Matt Chico? Long shots both. Atahualpa Severino? The left-hander's a long shot too. Severino was added to the major league roster last year when Washington traded Matt Capps, but he never pitched for the Nats. With Sean Burnett, who threw a scoreless ninth today, and Doug Slaten likely to start the season in the pen, the 25-year-old Severino's ticketed for Syracuse, but he may surface at some point in 2011. 

2. Marquis Friday: Jason Marquis will start Friday when the Nationals take on the Atlanta Braves. The 31-year-old Marquis, who signed a two-year/$15M dollar contract in the winter before the 2010 campaign, appeared on the MLB Network Radio Show Inside Pitch this afternoon, talking to hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden about recovering from last year's elbow surgery and getting back on the mound this year. Marquis had "loose bodies" or bone chips removed from his right elbow after struggling in Spring Training and early last season, but he worked his way back to make 10 starts in August and September. The right-hander said he trusted that if he put in the work during rehab he'd return to the mound, but, "it was a matter of just gaining that confidence back knowing that you could compete at the level you [were able to] before surgery." 

Marquis was signed for his value as a reliable veteran presence in the rotation, but he's not alone on the staff as a pitcher who can additionally aid in the Nats' younger starters' development on the mound, and as he sees it, "It doesn't stop there, in terms of on-the-mound stuff, it's also off the field and how you prepare for each game whether it's in the weight room or the video room. How to attack hitters. But a lot of these guys have very good talent, and just need to get experience under their belts. Obviously like you said, with myself and Livan [Hernandez] we're there with any encouraging words, anything that can help these young guys, and we're willing to take on that role."

1. Tony Plush, RIP? There was some concern when Nyjer Morgan and his career .200/.292/.269 slash line came into camp and said as he did in's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Morgan ready to turn page on tumultuous 2010", that he wasn't, "worried about hitting lefties, hitting righties,'" and thought, "I just have to play. I know what I can do," that he might not be focused on what others have identified as his issues. Talented as he is, there are clearly parts of Morgan's game that need improvement (ex. OBP, SB%). Morgan admitted that he didn't come into Spring Training in shape last year, and, in Mr. Ladson's article, said that part of the problem was that his wrist wasn't fully healed. Morgan also mentioned that contract issues distracted him from being what he believes he can be. Was he missing the point?

In an article today by's Scott Miller entitled, "Nyjer Morgan: 'I'm a valuable piece of this team'", Morgan again mentions that he had some personal issues that affected his production and his on-field behavior, but the 30-year-old outfielder, who sat and watched Roger Bernadina lead off, hit a 3-run HR and bunt his way on this afternoon, makes it clear that he understands the tenuous grasp he's got on starting job in center:

"'If I don't do what I'm supposed to do, I'm going to be on the damn bench," he said. 'It's a no-brainer. They don't want that s--- from last year. They want the player I was in '09.'"

The Nats want, the fans want it. Can Nyjer Morgan do it? We'll see, but if he does he won't be doing it as "Tony Plush", his "gentleman" alter ego. "'I want to prove to myself and to the organization that the player in '09 is who they're going to get in '11,'" Morgan tells CBS's Mr. Miller, "instead of the immature player from '10. I left Tony Plush behind.'"