• Today's Top 5:
5. Zim Talks, Crushes: Before today's Grapefruit League meeting with Atlanta, in which he went 1 for 3 with his first HR of the Spring in the sixth inning to put the Nationals up 3-2 over the Braves in a game the Nats would end up losing 6-4, Ryan Zimmerman joined 106.7 the FAN in DC's The Sports Junkies this morning to talk about the Nats losing Adam Dunn and adding Jayson Werth this winter, watching Stephen Strasburg's debut season as a player, and watching Bryce Harper's first Spring Training:
• Zim on Dunn leaving: "It's part of the business. Obviously any time you play with someone for a couple of years, you become friends with them, and like you said, he was a good player too. So, any time you lose something like that it's hard at first. I think they did a great job of replacing him and putting some more people around me and Morse and those guys to make our team better, but it's tough at first."
• Zim on the Nats' roster moves this winter: "They're doing the right thing, kind of starting from the ground up, and giving us a good team that has a lot of depth not just a few guys, it's gonna be a fun year to watch us."
• Zim on Werth's deal: "There's a lot of people...this game, it's in a good state right now. It's a good time to be a baseball player. There's a lot of money being thrown around. I think Jayson's a great player, obviously when you're a team like the Nationals that is young and has struggled for a couple of years, you gotta kind of go out and get that one guy to kind to start the domino effect. And Jayson's a guy that you know what you're going to get out of him every year, he plays hard, he plays defense. So, for me, I had no problem doing that, I think he's worth it. It's not really a risk. You know what he's going to get, he's going to play every day, and I think it's good for him, it's good for the game, it's good for everyone who is going to come up for a new contract soon."
• Zim on what Werth brings from Philly: "Philly is so good obviously because they're talented, but they have coaches, they have guys that play the game the right way, and they kind of pick up on what is going around you and that's the most important thing in baseball, to take all the little things going around you and use them to your advantage."
• Zim on Strasburg's injury: "You never like to see something like that happen. I think unfortunately in baseball now it seems like almost every pitcher has Tommy John... [Zim notes the number of All-Stars who had TJS] ...If you look at it in a positive way, it's almost better that it happened now and he got it out the way this year, and he'll be back at the end of this year or beginning of next year and then we'll be ready to go. So, obviously it's no good, you never want to see something like that happen to a great player and a great person, but if it had to have happened, I think last year was the perfect time to have it happen."
• Zim on Bryce Harper: "He's mentally and physically, at age eighteen, I mean, he's way, way ahead of the curve. So, he's got a lot to learn and he'll be the first person to tell you that, but he's going to be a special talent."
4. GO Extreme GB Pitcher GO!!: Jason Marquis faced the minimum number of batters through three, getting a DP grounder to end the first after a one-out Nate McLouth single then retiring the Braves in order in the second and third. The Nats' 32-year-old right-hander, who's looking to make up for a rough first season in D.C., struck out one and gave up one hit, while inducing six groundouts and one flyout in his first appearance this Spring, but he was matched by Braves' right-hander Brandon Beachy who held the Nats off the board as well.
3. A Massive Swarm of Bees A Glimpse of the Future: According to reports from Space Coast Stadium this afternoon, there was a two minute delay in the third while the teams waited for what was described as a "massive swarm of bees" to clear away from the outfield. The Nats' second baseman Danny Espinosa K'd when the game resumed, but one out later, Chris Marrero, the Nats' '06 1st Round pick out of Monsignor Edward Pace high school in Opa Locka, Florida, stepped up with a two-out double off Braves' starter Brandon Beachy that got people talking about the 22-year-old potential future first baseman again. Marrero and Espinosa, who started at first and second, respectively this afternoon, and could potentially, one day, maybe play side-by-side in D.C., and they did play together in the Puerto Rican Winter League this year, at least until Espinosa had surgery on the hamate bone in his right hand.
In the Nats' fifth it was Espinosa with a double that sent Adam LaRoche, who'd hit a two-out single, around to third so that Alberto Gonzalez's RBI groundout off potential Braves' closer Craig Kimbrel could score the Nats' current first baseman for the first run of the game for either team. 1-0 Nats. Marrero followed with an RBI single that drove Espinosa in and got the Nats out to a 2-0 lead in what had been a pitchers' duel to that point. The question with Marrero, for a while now has been his defense at first which earned a mention on the Twitter:
@MASNBen: "Chris Marrero doesn't look half bad at first base. He's made a couple nice plays on unassisted grounders."
Espinosa's not bad with the glove:
@NationalsPR: "After doubling last inning, Danny Espinosa just made a very nice play on a ball off the bat of Diory Hernandez. #offenseanddefense"
Marrero's got a long way to go, but after LaRoche it's him and the Nats' Minor League Player of the Year Tyler Moore on the top of the organizational ladder at first...unless Derek Norris is moved out from behind the plate...but the Nats keep saying they're not going to to do that. LaRoche is inked for two years...Will Marrero and Espinosa ever play together in the nation's capital...?
2. THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!! THE KIDS CALL HIM ZIM!!! ZIM...THAT'S WHAT THEY CALL HIM!!! ZIM!!!! - According to the Washington Nationals PR on Twitter (@NationalsPR): "Ryan Zimmerman just hit a go-ahead solo home run off the roof of the batting cage beyond the RF wall." Zim's first dinger of the Spring was hit off 26-year-old Braves' right-hander Jairo Asencio, and it put the Nats up 3-2 for a half-inning before Cole Kimball surrendered a run in the seventh that tied the game at 3-3.
1. Bally Shaky + Clippard Shaky + Storen Shaky = Loss: After getting the first two outs of the sixth, Collin Balester surrendered a single to Martin Prado, a walk to Nate McLouth and after a passed ball advanced both runners, a two-out, two-run single that momentarily tied the game at 2-2 before Zim's HR put the Nats ahead. Cole Kimball gave up a two-out RBI single in the seventh. Tyler Clippard gave up two walks but got the three outs he needed. Drew Storen? Storen gave up three runs before he got three outs. The Nats' closer-in-training gave up a leadoff single to Wilkin Ramirez, and then one out later Tyler Pastornicky knocked Ramirez in for the go-ahead run, 4-3 Braves, before a by a fly ball to right off Diory Hernandez's bat was misplayed into an RBI triple by Bryce Harper, 5-3. A sac fly followed for the third run of the inning before , 6-3, Storen escaped the ninth.
The Braves held on for the 6-4 win.
Collin Balester: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
Cole Kimball: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 K.
Tyler Clippard: 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 BB.
Drew Storen: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 K.
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