Gio Gonzalez takes the mound in Jupiter, Florida’s Roger Dean Stadium at 1:05 PM EST this afternoon as the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals meet in Grapefruit League action that’s available via MLB.tv and MLB.com’s audio feed.
Gonzalez, 31, faced the New York Mets in his first start of the Spring last Saturday in Port St. Lucie’s First Data Field, tossing a scoreless inning in a quick outing against the Nationals’ NL East rivals.
“It’s one inning,” the veteran lefty told reporters, including Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo, after the start.
“It’s a good lineup they put out there. Derek [Norris] gave me a nice frame down there, and I was just trying to hit the target, just keep my eyes on the glove the whole time.”
Gonzalez will have a different catcher behind the plate this afternoon when he takes on the Cards. Pedro Severino made the trip to Jupiter this morning as part of a mix-and-match road lineup that features some regulars (notably Ryan Zimmerman as the DH), but mostly potential bench options and a few players on the outside looking in when it comes to roster spots this season. Should be some fun prospect watching late.
Here is how the Nationals are lining up for this afternoon’s matchup with the Cardinals:
Zimmerman made his own Grapefruit League debut yesterday in the Nationals’ 2-1 loss to the Cards in West Palm Beach, lining out sharply to left the first time up and striking out in the second of his two at bats in The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
“He swung the bat well, real well,” Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters, including MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the loss.
“For the first day out, it looked like his timing was pretty good. And he hit the first ball a ton.”
Baker is preaching aggression for Zimmerman this season, explaining earlier this Spring that the veteran infielder fell behind too often as he struggled last summer.
Baker said he showed Zimmerman old scouting reports from when he managed the Cincinnati Reds.
“I kept all my reports for when I came over here so I could show guys exactly how we tried to pitch them,” he explained, “and it was pretty much the same way they were pitching him last year even if those reports are five or six years old. And so word had gotten around that Zim takes a lot early in the count and it’s hard to hit 0-1, 0-2 and everybody talks about getting deep in the count, well, a lot of times some guys get deep in the count and it just makes them deeper in the count.”
Before worrying about launch angle and the other things everyone has been focusing on when it comes to Zimmerman’s struggles, Baker said, “... you have got to be on the attack, that’s the word I use.”
How will Zimmerman attack opposing pitchers? How long will Gio Gonzalez go in start No. 2 of the Spring? Tune in at 1:05 PM EST to see...