“I don’t think it’s serious,” Williams said. “You start messing with other parts of the body and go out there and try to throw, as scheduled, 75 pitches, we don’t want to have any issues with the arm trying to overcompensate.”
Strasburg recently missed a start because of an ingrown toenail and pitched instead on the minor league side.
The Nationals have been known to be overly optimistic in public statements about injuries and timeframes for return, but Strasburg was seen walking around the clubhouse on Saturday morning without a limp or a brace on his ankle. So far this spring, Yunel Escobar (oblique), Denard Span (core surgery), Anthony Rendon (knee), Drew Storen (hamate bone surgery) and Strasburg are dealing with injuries — while Nate McLouth and Jayson Werth are rehabbing surgically repaired shoulders.
“With the exception of Denard, they’ve been nicks and things,” Williams said. “It’s not stuff that’s been debilitating for our team. Same with Stras. He just turned it a little bit and we’re just being cautious in that regard. He’ll still get a couple more [starts] before the end of spring and he’ll be fine.”
>>> For a spring training game in mid-March, when the lull of camp and humid Florida days weigh on the players, Jordan Zimmermann and Henderson Alvarez injected some intrigue Saturday. During his first at-bat of the spring in a 4-2 win over the Marlins in a split-squad game in Viera, Zimmermann was hit on the left elbow by Alvarez’s first-pitch fastball. There were two outs and two on in the second inning.
“It was not intentional, at all,” Alvarez told Miami reporters through an interpreter. “It was a sinker that got away. It was two outs. The last thing I want to do is let the pitcher get on base.
Zimmermann glared at Alvarez as he took first base, accompanied by home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom.
“I’m a pitcher,” said Zimmermann, who hasn’t had issues with Alvarez in the past. “I’m not going to do much damage, so throw it over the middle. Come inside on a guy. Just throw it over the middle. I’m not going to hurt you. Just frustrating he throws a sinker up and in like that. … He’s got good control. It’s not like he’s wild. He’s always around the zone. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but it sure seemed like it.”
When Alvarez came up to bat in the fifth inning with nobody on and no outs, Zimmermann threw a fastball inside. Alvarez squared around to bunt but jumped back at the pitch and fell to the ground. Alvarez eventually got a bunt down, and Zimmermann threw him out at first. As they crossed paths, the pitchers exchanged words.
“I thought Zimmermann’s [pitch] was intentional, just returning the message,” Alvarez said. “I can’t comment on that.”
“[I was] trying to get him to pop it up,” Zimmermann said. “He stared me down. I turned around and said, ‘Can I help you?’ He didn’t say anything. I said, ‘Get back to the dugout where you belong.’ That was it.”
And it was, but it still added some intrigue to an otherwise standard game.
“Boys will be boys,” Williams said. “A little into spring training everybody’s a little testy.”
On the mound, Zimmermann fired five strong innings, his longest outing of the spring so far. He allowed eight hits and had trouble putting away some batters with two strikes, but allowed only one run. He was also aided by two strong throws from center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to nab Dee Gordon and Reid Brignac at second base. Zimmermann struck out four batters and fired 63 pitches, 46 for strikes. He tossed another 10 pitches in the bullpen after he exited the game.
“I felt strong at the end,” he said. “Arm feels good. I could have easily gone a couple more. … Just building up little by little. I’m pretty close to ready.”
>>> Dan Uggla, who is vying for a spot on the roster, went 2 for 3 with an opposite-field two-run home run and a single. He is hitting .333 (9 for 27) this spring with two home runs, six walks and only three strikeouts. Wilson Ramos added a two-run single. Bryce Harper is hitting only .217 (5 for 23) this spring but drew another walk, his ninth, this spring.
>>> Aaron Barrett logged another scoreless inning of work and has yet to allow a run in 6 2/3 innings over seven appearances this spring. Rafael Martin, a dark horse candidate for the bullpen, allowed his first run this spring in the ninth inning.