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Monday, March 31, 2008

Our Friends at Nats Opening Day

Here are some pictures of us with our baseball friends at Nats Opening Day in brand new Nationals Park.

Here we are with our friends the Kloke's entering the stadium through the centerfield gate with Abe Lincoln.

Here's Jimmy chatting up Ray King pre-game. Ray wanted to know why Jimmy didn't pick up the bill at Chili's in Viera.

Chick Hernandez from Comcast interviewing Jimmy.

Me and my buddy Mike from the CBLs.

Cheryl and Dave during seventh inning stretch.

Chris, Andy and Dave moments before Zim's walk-off homer, costing Andy a C-note.

Me and Ray Knight after the post-game show. Notice Ray's World Series ring!

Photos by Cheryl (c) 2008

Zim Sends Capacity Crowd Home Happy

Washington, DC--Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman homered off of Atlanta Braves reliever Peter Moylan in the bottom of the ninth inning to deliver a 3-2 win for the Nats in the inaugural game in Nationals Park.

The ecstatic crowd reveled in the moment, which was the cherry on the sundae that this day provided the baseball fans of the district. At 3:30 pm the lines were already dozens deep at the center field gate waiting to get their first glimpse at the new ballpark in southeast. As fans in red sweatshirts and team jackets filtered through security--necessary since the President threw out the first pitch--you could hear folks praising the look, design and feel of the new stadium.

There were families anxious to see the view from their new seats, generations passing traditions from Griffith Stadium to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to the shiny new Nationals Park. People came via the Metro, took the shuttle from RFK, parked in their season ticket holder parking lots--even rode their bikes or took taxis. But they all came to see the new park, new field, new larger-than-life high definition scoreboard--oh, and actually watch a baseball game.

The afternoon and evening had a few hiccups with long lines for food and other concessions, crowded security lines and yet unfinished amenities, including television monitors not in place, signs directing fans to non-existing ATMs and stadium workers that were still feeling around the new park themselves. But most of the complaints were taken in stride with patrons understanding the newness of the place and realizing that some kinks would need to be worked out.

While the biggest cheers were reserved for Zimmerman's game-winner, there were boos for the Commander-in-Chief, a smattering of "Oh"s during "Oh Say Can you See" in the National Anthem and Chipper Jones of the Braves, who hit the first homer in the new park.

Other firsts: First Pitch-Odalis Perez at 8:23 pm; First Hit-Cristian Guzman in the bottom of the first; First RBI-Nick Johnson driving in Guzman in the first.

Most fans would tell you that opening night at Nationals Park was an unqualified success, and the walk-off home run provided the fireworks that punctuated the southeast sky with victory in the first game in a gem of a ballpark in southeast DC.

Zim Sends Capacity Crowd Home Happy also posted at DC Sports Box.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Photos From Spring Training

Here are some more photos from our spring training trip. Today we saw the Nats lose to the Cardinals 3-0. Yesterday we saw the Orioles lose to the Mets 1-0. Notice a pattern? That's right, Cheryl and I are 0-5 on the trip. At least the sun came out today. We had the top down all day while we were driving from Ft. Lauderdale up to Jupiter for the game, then up to Viera where we'll stay the next two nights.

I'll have a game story on today's 3-0 loss on DC Sports Box.

Enjoy the photos. Cheryl took all of these. Except of course when she's in them..

Embattled infielder Felipe Lopez enjoys a rare smile at spring training.

Cheryl gets Jesus Flores attention--but he's swinging Saul Rivera's bat!

Ronnie Belliard chilling before the game with the Cardinals in Jupiter.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it's off to work for Nick Johnson.

Albert Pujols pops up but drives in two on Tuesday against the Nats.

Austin Kearns can't check his swing against Cards starter Anthony Reyes.

Legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight congratulates Jason Isringhausen after the Cards win 3-0.

Nats dugout pre-game Tuesday in Jupiter's Roger Dean Stadium.

The writer and the photographer in <> sunny Florida.

We caught up with old friend Brian Schneider in Ft. Lauderdale where the Mets were playing the Orioles on Monday...

and Ryan Church after the Nats lost to the Mets on Sunday.

We have two games left. Wednesday the Nats play at the Braves and Thursday the Nats host the Orioles. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Notes On Two Days from Spring Training

We spent the last two days with the Nats at Spring Training. We pulled into the stadium Thursday in Viera just in time to hear John Patterson was released. Shock was the word of the day. Tim Redding was signing autographs outside the park and when we asked him about it, he simply said "Everyone was shocked." He had a couple of decent outings, but just got hammered against the Orioles, and his velocity just wasn't where it needed to be.

Thursday's game against Houston was cold and very windy. Odalis Perez pitched pretty terrific, with six Ks in six innings. You can see my game story about the Nats and the Astros at DC Sports Box.

Friday was saw the Nats play at the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie. Again, good starting pitching from Matt Chico, who looks like a completely different pitcher with his new high leg kick. The bullpen got lit up though, and the Nats fell 8-2. Again, the game story is over on DC Sports Box. David Wright was in mid-season form, going 4-4 with a homer.

And I have to say, Felipe Lopez just looks terrible, both at the plate and in the field. His error int he Mets game was terrible. It was a routine ground ball and he simply overthrew Dmitri Young at first. He wasn't rushed at all. Just terrible.

Anyway, here are some photos from out first two days. Enjoy!

Tim Redding signing outside the stadium on Thursday.

Line-ups for Thursday game against Houston.

Nats' Opening Day Starter Odalis Perez.

Ryan Zimmerman rounding third after two-run home run.

National Anthem from Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.

Paul LoDuca singles in his first competitive at bat for the Washington Nationals.

Nats' Starter Matt Chico delivered 4.1 scoreless innings against the Mets.

Nats' outfielder Elijah Dukes leads off third against the Mets.

David Wright went 4-for-4, including this two-run home run.

Our friends Katie and Danielle told GM Jim Bowden exactly how they felt.

Just another beautiful day in Florida, unfortunately the Nats lost.

Photos (c) Cheryl Nichols 2008.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kasten Takes Metro to Park

Washington, DC--Washington Nationals' President Stan Kasten took a subway ride today--from Gallery Place to the Navy Yard--with the media in tow to prove how easy it will be to get to the new ballpark in near Southeast DC. Granted it was in the middle of the day, with the least amount of patrons possible in the Metro system, but the entire trip from doors closed to doors open was seven minutes and fifteen seconds.

"It's gonna be safe, convenient, easy…and an awful lot of fun," was how Kasten categorized a trip to the new park on Metro. "We have one of the best metro systems in the world, and I've been in metro stations all around the world," Kasten said. In response to questions about the Navy Yard Station being only "half-ready", Kasten replied, "Ah, but next week we're opening up the important half...the half right on our front door." He also assured that the Navy Yard Metro stop would be fully operational for opening day.

According to Kasten, there are 57,000 parking spots throughout the Metro system and patrons of Nationals Park should utilize them--and not drive all the way downtown--when visiting the new stadium. "Metro has a great schedule and they're prepared to handle all the crowds that we could possibly have." He added that Metro would have personnel at the Navy Yards and all transfer stations to point fans in the right direction.

Replying to a question about the surrounding area of the park, Kasten dismissed any concern, stating, "The neighborhood has really been spiffed up with sidewalks and lights and guards at the different, you know, directing foot traffic, so it's gonna be great."

Some things the Nats are still working on include a taxi queue, limo and sedan pick-up/drop off, and charter bus drop-off and parking. Kasten also stressed that the free shuttle from RFK will be a good option for fans, especially coming from Maryland, although he did not have details about how parking at RFK will be handled when schedules conflict with DC United, which still utilizes venerable RFK Stadium.

On a baseball related note, Kasten said Shawn Hill "looked terrific today," although it looks "likely" he'll start the season on the Disabled List, since Opening Day is just around the corner.

Kasten Takes Metro to Park also posted at DC Sports Box

Photo Courtesy of A. Amobi and DC Sports Box

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pena Out With Oblique Strain

Viera, FL--Wily Mo Pena, expected to be the Washington Nationals' starting left fielder, suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left oblique muscle and will be sidelined up to a month according to reports from the Nats' spring training complex. Pena injured his side Wednesday during batting practice. A club spokesman said it was a "significant tear of the muscle" and an injury that will require very little activity to heal properly.

With the injury, it is expected that Elijah Dukes will take over in left field until Pena is healthy, however Dukes strained his right hamstring sliding into second base in Friday's game and is listed by-to-day.

The injury bug seems to be floating around the Nats' clubhouse these days, but some good news on the front is available. Dmitri Young played his first spring training game of the season Thursday night and went 2-for-3 with a walk. He was the designated hitter for that contest, and was in the line-up again for Friday's game. Catcher Paul LoDuca played in a minor league game Thursday and went 2-for-3 as well. He is expected to play Saturday against one of his old teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Shawn Hill, rehabbing a sore forearm after receiving a cortisone shot earlier this week, played catch for the second day in a row Thursday and reported to be pain-free. He is tentatively scheduled for a bullpen session Saturday as he tries to regain playing shape and avoid a trip to the disabled list to start the season.

Pena Out With Oblique Strain also posted at DC Sports Box

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Orioles Season Preview

The Orioles had a very busy off-season and may very well not be finished yet. Trades of Eric Bedard and Miguel Tejada have contributed to the replenishing of the farm system, netting ten players and prospects to a severely young-talent dry organization. Several of those players are competing for spots on the 25-man roster. And rumors abound every day about whether Brian Roberts will start the season with the Orioles or Cubs.

New pitching coach Rick Kranitz has a style that caters to the individual pitchers strengths instead of the "one way" approach of former coach Leo Mazzone. And the front office is undergoing an overhaul, with team President Andy MacPhail adding 27 year-old Matt Klentak as Director of Baseball Operations. It'll be a long summer on the field for the O's, but at least the team is making moves to be competitive in the future, rather than signing retreads and free agents to plug holes in a sinking ship.

Let's take a look at the Orioles position-by-position as spring training cuts have already started.

First Base: Expect to see Kevin Millar log the bulk of innings at first. Sad as that may be, he's under contract and will probably lead the team in OBP. Scott Moore has seen some at bats there in the spring in hopes of adding some positional flexibility. Moore will probably be the back-up corner infield guy, starting twice a week to give Millar and Mora some rest.

Second Base: Brian Roberts, until the trade. There's just no way this doesn't get done. Once he's gone, it'll either be whoever they get back (Eric Patterson maybe) or Brandon Fahey full-time.

Shortstop: Here's where it gets dicey. Right now, Luis Hernendez is getting almost ALL of the playing time in Florida and proving beyond a doubt that he's not a major league player. If the O's don't get a shortstop in the Roberts deal (Ronny Cedeno?) they might have to look elsewhere, because 600 at bats combined from Hernandez and Fahey will be disastrous.

Third Base: Melvin Mora is the incumbent, and until he gets hurt, he's start all but one night a week. Mike Costanzo and the aforementioned Scott Moore are both hitting in spring training, but Mora has a lock on this job.

Left Field: Luke Scott, obtained in the Tejada deal, is the starter. He could surprise and flourish since Houston never wanted to commit to him full-time. He had 18 homers in 369 at-bats last season, and his left/right splits are negligible.

Center Field: Adam Jones. He was the jewel of the Bedard trade, and the most impactful player the Orioles picked up in the off-season. The guy has been compared to Eric Davis talent-wise. He's above average defensively as well. He will be fun to watch this summer.

Right Field: The cornerstone of the franchise, Nick Markakis. He elevated every aspect of his game last year, hitting .300/23/112/18 with gold glove caliber defense. He's the real deal, and only 24. If the O's make a financial commitment to him, the outfield at Camden Yards looks pretty solid for a while.

Reserve Outfielder(s): Jay Gibbons, Jay Payton, Tike Redman. Take your pick. None are going to be very productive. Gibbons misses the first 15 games due to his PED suspension. Payton is rumored to the Cubs with Roberts. That would be a blessing. Redman performed admirably but way over his head last September.

Designated Hitter: Ah, Aubrey Huff. He sure made himself look like an idiot over the winter. The O's are straddled with another year of his not hitting before Memorial Day, then hitting just enough to justify his existence. Declining home run totals the last five (!) years shows his skills are eroding, and if Moore or Costanza hit enough, Huff may not make it through the season with the O's.

Catcher: Ramon Hernandez and Guillermo Quiroz. Hernandez reported to camp in much better shape than he did last year. Hopefully Quiroz will provide enough time off to keep Hernandez healthy and productive enough to entice someone to make a deal for him at the trading deadline, when we may get a taste of future all-star Matt Wieters.

Starting Pitchers: Yuck. The rotation looks like this right now: Steve Traschel, Jeremy Guthrie, Adam Loewen, Daniel Cabrera and ???. Loewen will miss his start tomorrow though, so things could shake up considerably. The O's lost Troy Patton, obtained in the Tejada deal, to labrum surgery and they've already assigned Hayden Penn to the minors. So that leaves Matt Albers, another Houston transplant, Garrett Olson, Brain Burress, Radhames Liz and Lance Cormier in the competition for the #5 and maybe #4 if Loewen is injured and not just sore. Not pretty.

Relief Pitching: George Sherrill is the closer. He came over in the Bedard deal, and was absolutely killer last year against righties and lefties on a situational basis. Can he close full-time? We'll find out. Chris Ray will miss most of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford will be the primary set-up/situational guys in the back of the pen. They are both better suited for this work that the heavy loads they has to carry last year.

Dennis Sarfate is a hard-throwing RHP who is out of options and Randor Bierd is a Rule V draft pick the O's think can help, so both stand a good chance to make this pen. That leaves Greg Aquino, a former closer for Arizona, Rocky Cherry and the losers from the starter competition to fight for the long-man spots in the pen. Tough way to make a MLB living. James Hoey will most likely start in AAA and be ready the first time someone goes down. He was dominant in AA last year but struggled with location in Baltimore, not uncommon for rookies. But he's got a cannon.

Coaching: What kind of big league manager will Dave Trembley be with the full-time gig? Who knows. He's been preaching the "pitching and defense" mantra all spring, but is that because he just doesn't have the mashers? He's known as a teacher from his time in the minors, and you figure he'll have to have patience this season, especially with the pitchers.

New pitching coach Rick Kranitz come to Baltimore with all kinds of accolades from his time with the Marlins. He allows the pitchers to pitch to their strengths and tries to refine through mechanics instead of preaching time-tested methods. Not saying Mazzone was to blame for ALL the O's pitching woes, but some people just learn in different ways.

Terry Crowley returns as the hitting coach, and I just don't understand why. He's a nice guy and has been around forever, but the Orioles have been in the lower half of the pack in scoring for several years now, and although the O's have been through four pitching coaches in six years, he remains. Must be his pre-game botche-ball games.

Outlook: Two weeks ago I would have predicted the O's to lose about 90 games based on all projections. With injuries to Patton and now possibly Loewen, and the prospect of 600 at-bats from Luis Hernandez, the Orioles could very well face triple-digit losses. Expect MacPhail to deal anyone over 30 by the trading deadline that has any kind of value, even to bring just organizational depth over. The off-season deals brought some good talent, including pitching prospect Chris Tillman, but they have a long, long way to go before this organization can be competitive again.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Nats Trim Roster to 44

The Washington Nationals today made many moves to pare the roster down closer to the active 25-man roster that will open the season. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcements. After these cuts, the spring roster stands at 44.

The biggest highlights from the cuts include RHPs Collin Balestar, Tyler Clippard and Garrett Mock and LHP Ross Detwiler. All were competing for a job in the starting rotation, with Clippard and Mock perhaps ahead of the other two. Also, catcher Chad Moeller was unconditionally waived and immediately signed by the New York Yankees.

The entire list included right-handed pitcher Collin Balester, right-handed pitcher Rob Bell, left-handed pitcher Eude Brito, right-handed pitcher Bobby Brownlie, right-handed pitcher Adam Carr, shortstop Ian Desmond, outfielder Jason Dubois, catcher Javier Herrera, first baseman Luis Jimenez, infielder Ed Rogers, right-handed pitcher Brian Sanches, left-handed pitcher Jason Stanford and right-handed pitcher Dennis Tankersley assigned to minor-league camp.

The Nationals also optioned outfielder Rogeravin Bernadina to Double-A Harrisburg, right-handed pitcher Tyler Clippard to Triple-A Columbus, left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler to Single-A Potomac, outfielder Justin Maxwell to Double-A Harrisburg, right-handed pitcher Garrett Mock and first baseman Josh Whitesell to Triple-A Columbus.

Bottom Line: With the lingering soreness in Shawn Hill's right forearm, it's kind of surprising so many pitchers thought to be in the mix for the back of the rotation were sent down. At this point, if we assume Hill has top start the season on the DL, something not yet conceded by the front office, the rotation will be Patterson, Bergmann, Chico, Perez (if his visa problem gets solved) and one of Hanrahan, Redding or Lannan.

Also, it looks like Humberto Cota is the choice at back-up catcher if Estrada isn't ready for Opening Day.

Nats logo courtesy of the Washington Nationals and MLB.

"Nats Trim Roster to 44" also posted at DC Sports Box

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Nats Spring Training Notes

Viera, FL--The Washington Nationals are not unique in having to deal with injuries in spring training. But many of their regular players, players this team will depend on this season to be competitive in the difficult NL East, are battling through injuries or rehabbing from off-season surgeries.

Free-agent signee Johnny Estrada was given a cortisone shot in his right elbow Thursday, delaying him from taking the field with the other catchers on the practice fields. Estrada has not played yet, and is not on any time-table to do so. He told The Washington Post, "I can't do anything, just run. It stinks." Paul LoDuca, the presumed starter who was signed in the off-season, is still over a week away from his return from minor knee surgery right before spring training, leaving the burden on incumbent Jesus Flores. The 23-year old former Rule V draft pick was slated to spend the season in AA, but these injuries may force the Nats' hand--or not. Chad Moeller and Humberto Cota, both veterans, are still in camp and one may be on the opening day roster, backing up LoDuca--or Flores.

One-time potential opening day starter Shawn Hill has been "shut down" according to sources, but Manager Manny Acta merely indicated that they are holding him back to rest his sore forearm. Hill's MRI on Tuesday was negative, but he had to cut short a throwing session on Friday, a session the team hoped he'd be able to complete in his road to get back on the mound. Hill needs to get some innings in before too long if he wants to avoid a trip to the disabled list to start the season, something that appears to be an option right now, considering Hill's lingering pain.

Last year's feel good story isn't feeling very good. First baseman Dmitri Young hasn't appeared in a spring training game yet either, as he suffered a pulled muscle in his side in the batting cages before games began. He's felling better, but still having much difficultly swinging the bat and bending over for grounders. Another complicating factor for Young is his weight. He reported to camp at 298 pounds, and he believes his daily insulin treatments for his Type-II diabetes is to blame. He is working with his doctors to come up with a different treatment regimen in order to get his weight under control. Young came into camp expecting to have to battle Nick Johnson for the starting first base position, but every day that goes by that Young isn't on the field is another missed opportunity to win the job. It's likely that if Young can avoid the DL, he'll begin the year as a switch-hitting pinch-hitter, albeit one that just signed a two-year, $10M contract.

Nick Johnson is slowly getting back into the swing of things. He's hitting .333 (5 for 15) thus far, but still feels his weight transfer is off. Johnson is the type of hitter that "feels" his way in the box, and adjusting to live hitting has been his biggest challenge--baseball-wise--of the spring. He did have a slide and play at the plate in Friday's game, so he's getting past the fear of re-injury, an important step in his recovery from a broken femur, the injury that has kept him off the field since late 2006.

Right-hander John Patterson is starting to open things up. Earlier in camp, Patterson was short-striding his fastball, not fully extending his release point, perhaps not fully trusting his rehab from forearm surgery. But in a minor league game on Friday, Patterson opened it up and allowed four hits and one run in two and two-thirds innings, walking just one and striking out one. He threw 34 pitches, and is expected to start Tuesday against Atlanta.

Group Photo courtesy of Anthony Amobi
Patterson and Johnson photos (c) Cheryl Nichols 2006

"Nats Spring Training Notes" also posted at DC Sports Box

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nats Unveil New Scoreboard

Washington, DC--The Washington Nationals, led by President Stan Kasten and owner Mark Lerner, unveiled the spectacular high-definition scoreboard which will be the centerpiece of the new Nationals' Park along the banks of the Anacostia River in near Southeast DC Tuesday afternoon.

On an day with overcast skies, the crystal clear light emanating from the scoreboard had no competition from the sun for brightness inside the new ballpark. Standing 47 feet tall, 102 feet wide, and encompassing 4,811 square feet, the scoreboard is larger than most apartments in the city. Over 1,000,000 individual pixels deliver such a bright and clear picture, even the mediocre video shot from MASN that the Nats chose to play during the unveiling looked crisp and clear. Imagine what things may look like if the image was actually captured in HD, as the Capitals do at Verizon Center.

"It's a great way to watch a ball game," Kasten said beaming as proudly as a new parent. "If you're someone that just wants to sit and watch baseball for nine innings, this will be as good a park that has even been built." Asked about it's quality and dimensions, Kasten simply said, "It's as fine a board as there is anywhere in the world."

In a nod to their former home, the Nats transported home plate from RFK Stadium over to the New Nationals Park, with Kasten remarking, "I hope we get to use this here more than at RFK." Inferior Nationals' Mascot Screech was there to help, as were officials from Clark Construction. Kasten wasn't very sentimental about the old ballpark. "I'm in this to do the best job here for our fans…and RFK wasn't helpful in that effort. This park is what fans want and deserve."

Workers were busy during the demonstration as opening day quickly approaches. The first cherry blossom tree in the left field court was being planted as reporters were leaving the facility. Much of the stadium was still covered in dust and construction garbage littered the concourses, empty seating aisles and just about any open space where things could accumulate. But a walk through the concourse also showed evidence that yes, there is a baseball-only stadium underneath all the dust, and after a thorough cleaning and sweeping, things may--just may--be ready by opening day. "Every day is exciting," Kasten said, "It's gonna be a very cool place to be."

In other news from the festivities, Kasten indicated that opening day sold out in six minutes when tickets were open to the general public Tuesday morning, comparing it to "a Springsteen concert". That number was tempered a bit by the news that just 4,000 tickets were made available to non-ticket package holders. He also indicated that opening day tickets were still being held for anyone wishing to purchase full- or half- season plans yet.

"Nats Unveil New Scoreboard" also posted at DC Sports Box.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

First Beltway Battle of the Spring

Viera, FL--The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Nationals 4-1 Saturday afternoon to take the early lead in the Battle for the Beltways this season. Granted, the victory only counts in the Grapefruit League standings, but with each game and each season that passes where these teams play each other, a fan-interest rivalry grows just a bit stronger.

Neither teams is expected to contend this season, but the seeds are starting to grow for each, as the Nationals and Orioles both made extensive off-season changes to their everyday line-ups and quality of bench play.

For the Nationals, Saturday's game featured the spring debut of de facto "ace" John Patterson, in his return from forearm surgery. He pitched two innings and gave up two hits, including O's third base prospect Mike Costanzo's second inning home run. He also struck out two without allowing a base on balls.

John Lannan followed with two scoreless innings, surrendering three hits but striking out four. Non-roster invitee Dennis Tankersly gave up three earned in his two innings, and Chad Cordero, Ray King and Jon Rauch each pitched one scoreless inning.

The offense managed seven hits off six Orioles hurlers, including two apiece from Jesus Flores, non-roster catcher Humberto Cota and Elijah Dukes. Cota drove in the lone Nats run of the day.

The Nats have split squad games Sunday against the Orioles in Ft. Lauderdale and the Houston Astros in Kissimmee. Steven Shell will go against Houston and Garrett Mock will face the Orioles.

Article also posted at DC Sports Box.
Photo courtesy of Al Santos, DC Sports Box

Nats Fall to Marlins

Viera, FL--The old adage says that at this time of spring training the bats are behind the arms. One only need to examine the box scores around the league to find evidence of such. Friday afternoon the Washington Nationals pitchers had a nice day, but the Florida Marlins pitchers were just as good, and the Nats fell 3-1 in front of 2,233 fans in Space Coast Stadium.

Tyler Clippard started for the Nats and pitched two solid innings of work, giving up a solo home run along with two hits and a walk. Jason Stanford followed Clippard, and he surrendered just one hit and struck out one in his two innings. Mike Bascik, famous for giving up Barry Bonds record-setting home run last season, was roughed up for three hits and two runs in one inning, and Saul Rivera was unblemished in his one inning.

The hitting stars for the Nats were Ryan Zimmerman, who went two-for-two, and Bret Boone, trying to make a comeback after being out of the game last season, doubled in his first spring training at bat.

Florida's star was center fielder Alejandro DeAza, who homered off of Clippard in the first inning, and added another hit, RBI and stolen base later in the game.

Article also posted at DC Sports Box.
Photo courtesy of Al Santos, DC Sports Box