JUPITER, Fla. - Rick Ankiel has been getting a ton of treatment on his injured quad lately.
Perhaps as a result of all the deep massages and medical work, Ankiel’s quad tightened up on him a little bit during today’s 3-1 loss to the Marlins.
Not wanting to take any chances with the guy who is set to be his opening day center fielder, manager Davey Johnson pulled Ankiel after the fourth inning, sending Brett Carroll up as a pinch-hitter in the fifth.
“He said from all the massages he’s been getting and treatments he’s been getting, he didn’t know if it was sore or just a little tight,” Johnson said. “But he said he wasn’t really concerned about it, but just as a precaution I took him out.
“He should be fine,” Johnson said. “He feels good about it.”
The Nationals sure have to hope Ankiel is able to shake free of this lingering injury, or else their outfield might have an interesting look to it to start the season. And that’s putting it very nicely.
Steve Lombardozzi got the start in left field today, in what might be his final outfield appearance this spring. The 23-year-old showed his outfield inexperience on two occasions, both of which came when he tried to track down a drive near the wall down the left-field line.
He took a bad route on one ball, allowing it to get by him, and then was given an error on another play when a ball up against the wall scooted away.
“He’s an infielder and the ball’s right by the wall and he’s not sure if it’s going to hit the wall,” Johnson explained. “He didn’t get over. He was a little aggressive. That’s just not being out there. But he’s fine. I’m not worried about him. Like I said, this might be his last time out there.”
Once he was shifted over to second base late in the game - his natural position - Lombardozzi flashed the leather, tumbling to his left to secure a hard-hit ball off the bat of Jose Reyes and then gunning Reyes at first.
Mark DeRosa, who got the start at third base today, also made a few sharp defensive plays, including one where he dove to his right to stop a ball hit down the line and then threw across the diamond to nab the runner.
DeRosa had two hits today, as did Jesus Flores and Roger Bernadina, whose average this spring is now up to .298.
Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard and Brad Lidge each delivered a scoreless inning in relief today, continuing the impressive performances by the arms out of the Nationals’ ‘pen.
“The bullpen as a whole has been great,” Johnson said.
The stadium radar gun read 97 mph on a Clippard fastball which struck out Hanley Ramirez, but if you think Clippard can actually throw 97, I’ve got a bridge I can sell ya.