Wrapping up a ‘dog day’ afternoon for the Nationals


(David J. Phillip / AP)

 

There was some, but not much, to be culled from the Nationals’ 5-1 loss to the Marlins this afternoon. Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth made their respective spring debuts, going a combined 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Werth struck out looking twice, consciously choosing to work on his eye.

“Werth was tracking,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I kind of figured he was going to take it slow. I might have been rushing getting him in there. But he enjoyed it.”

The Nationals mustered only three hits, including a single from Danny Espinosa – his first hit of the spring – and a monster double by Tyler Moore that banged about 20 feet up on the 30-foot wall in center field. The Nationals had 10 strikeouts as a team.

If one player stood out aside from starter Dan Haren, it was left-handed reliever Fernando Abad. He had a 5.09 ERA last year for the Astros, but he’s been impressing the Nationals all spring, starting in bullpen sessions. Abad, 27, struck out one batter in a 1-2-3 inning. His odds to make the roster are long, but he could work his way into the competition for the final spot in the Nationals’ bullpen. If you’re looking for a sleeper, it may be Abad.

Haren’s fastball, by the way, sat between 89 and 91 miles per hour and touched 93, according to one scout’s radar gun. “Action on every pitch,” he said. Haren talked afterward about how his game is not based on velocity, but that’s highly encouraging for a pitcher who averaged 88.5 miles per hour with his fastball last year.

Otherwise … not many takeaways. Drew Storen pitched a scoreless inning, recovering after he drilled the leadoff hitter in the back.

“Lackluster day,” Johnson said, starting to grin. “Dog day. Putting my big guys in there slows us down.”

Most of the big guys will be in the lineup again tomorrow night, when the Nationals host the Marlins at 6:05 p.m. Stephen Strasburg will pitch, with Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki all playing. Johnson will give Bryce Harper, who went 0 for 2 to knock his average down to .600, a rest.

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.

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Adam Kilgore · February 27, 2013

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