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Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves: Jason Marquis - Season Two, Grapefruit League GameThread.

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VIERA FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Jason Marquis #21 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: Jason Marquis #21 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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• Note: There's no audio available for the first Grapefruit League meeting between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, so it's back to the boxscore and Twitter if you're following today's game. Join us in the gamethread...

• Today's Starting Lineup: Washington Nationals - 

  1. NMISMH - Nyjer Morgan - CF
  2. The Shark - LF
  3. Jayson Werth - RF
  4. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! - 3B (Word.)
  5. Adam LaRoche - DH
  6. Wilson "Duke of Lizards" Ramos - C
  7. Danny "Spinner" Espinosa - SS
  8. Alberto "The General" Gonzalez - SS
  9. Chris Marrero - 1B
  10. Jason Marquis - SP

• Marquis Friday:

Jason Marquis will be on the mound this afternoon when the Washington Nationals take on the Atlanta Braves at 1:05 pm EST in Space Coast Stadium. The 32-year-old Marquis signed a two-year/$15M dollar contract in the winter of '09. The right-hander was signed because of his history as a reliable starter. In a press release announcing the signing, the Washington Nationals introduced Marquis to D.C. by describing him as an "extreme ground ball pitcher by trade," and, "one of only 10 big league pitchers to record a double-digit win total every season since 2004."

There was trouble from the start, however, as Marquis struggled through a brutal first Spring Training with the Nats in which he gave up 32 hits, 10 walks and 21 ER in 20.2 IP. The former Braves' prospect started the season by giving up 18 hits and 20 runs, 19 earned in three starts and 8.1 IP, before doctors discovered "loose bodies" in his right elbow which eventually required removal. The subsequent surgery and rehab sidelined Marquis through August when he returned to make 10 starts, throwing 50.1 innings in which he was (2-6) with 58 hits, 27 runs, (24 ER) and 18 walks (3.22 BB/9) allowed and 28 K's (5.01 K/9) collected. 

Bill James is projecting 21 starts (4.8 K/9, 3.43 BB/9, 1.03 HR/9) and 105.0 innings pitched from Marquis this season, Marcel projects 19 starts (5.51 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9) and 111.0 IP. James and Marcel have Marquis' ERA (6.60 to 4.46 on both) and FIP (5.65 to James' 4.77 and Marcel's 4.30) dropping back toward his career averages (4.56 ERA/4.85 FIP).

When he appeared on the MLB Network Radio Show Inside Pitch the other afternoon, talking to hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden, Marquis said that this winter the Nationals made, "the rather needed additions to better the ballclub to win more games. We have a lot of talented guys, a lot of guys who know how to play the game the right way, a good mix of guys and we're excited about the upcoming season. Ultimately it comes down to pitching, defense and execution so we're definitely headed in the right direction." 

Asked by former Nats' GM Jim Bowden why he'd decided to sign with Washington before the 2010 season, Marquis said, "a lot of factors play into what direction you're headed." "Obviously I love the National League first and foremost," Marquis said, "so that was a priority, not that I limited myself to that. Obviously you have to see what team's needs are. [The Nats] are a young team headed in the right direction, and obviously being close to home, I'm a family guy, three kids, I want to be able to see my family as much as possible..."

When it was mentioned that the right-hander was in the second-year of a two-year deal and might potentially be a trade chip for the Nats at some point down the road, Marquis said, "...that's so far in advance to even think about what's going to happen in July. I'm just worried about tomorrow. I'm going to go out there and take the ball and do what Jason Marquis is capable of doing. Prepare as best as I [can] and hopefully bring some intensity and fire and fun to the game for the team and for myself." 

"I love everything about Washington," Marquis said, "The city, the fans are growing. There's a little more at games. The stadium is beautiful. Like you said, the organization is making moves, going in the right direction, so it's definitely a place I can see myself [staying] beyond this year. Obviously it has to be mutual, but we'll see where that goes as the season goes on." 

Wilson Ramos will be behind the plate for Marquis this afternoon. The Nats' catcher of the future, Marquis says, "is unbelievable. I enjoyed throwing to him last year when I was rehabbing in Triple-A and then when I got re-activated and he got called up. It was fun throwing to him. [The Nats] have a lot of young catching prospects who are going to be part of this new wave." Asked for specifics about what he liked in Ramos, Marquis said, "sometimes you just have a natural connection with somebody on the mound. You feel comfortable, he's a big strong guy, gives a great target. You have to get to know a pitcher just to learn how to use your stuff. So that obviously comes with more time and experience and on top of that he's got Pudge [Rodriguez] to learn from and get better also." 

Marquis' first start of Spring Training is at 1:05 pm EST this afternoon, when the now-32-year-old starter hopes to get off to a much better start than he did during his first year as a Nat. Who's following Marquis' first outing?