Talking hurlers and Harper

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Edwin Jackson said he spent today's outing focusing on his adjusted mechanics which should help him avoid tipping his pitches.

Pitching coach Steve McCatty would prefer the righty didn't let those thoughts run through his head while on the mound.

"To me, we're not going to make a mechanical issue about anything," McCatty said. "I'm not worried about tipping, nothing. I want him to be athletic, I want him to feel nice and smooth, I want him to feel like everything's working together and not worry about all this other garbage that goes on with it."

McCatty was especially pleased with the way Jackson threw in the bullpen after his start, once the veteran hurler's adrenaline wore down. He also was impressed with the two-inning outing turned in by Ross Detwiler, despite the two-run homer allowed by the lefty in his second inning of work.

Detwiler allowed a walk to Jack Cust after having Cust in an 0-2 hole, and then served up a longball to third baseman Chris Johnson on a changeup down the middle.

"I was really pleased with the way he threw the ball," McCatty said. "Had a good fastball, threw some real good breaking balls. Had a shot with Cust earlier and didn't put him away and ended up walking him. That's kind of the way things happen. But it's the first time out. For the first time out, I'm really happy with the way he threw. I thought he threw the ball exceptionally well."

For what it's worth, manager Davey Johnson wasn't thrilled with catcher Jesus Flores' decision to call for a fastball high and out of the zone once Detwiler had Cust down 0-2.

'I don't mind a fastball in the zone up and in, but not way out of the zone," Johnson said. "(Detwiler) had trouble getting back down and he lost him and then he threw a bad changeup to Johnson for a two-run homer. But he threw the ball well. Finished strong."

Johnson sent right-hander Livan Hernandez out to the mound a number of times as a National last season. Today, Hernandez was the starter opposing Johnson's Nationals.

"It was really weird," Johnson said of facing the 36-year-old hurler. "I love the guy for a lot of reasons, not just because he's a heck of an athlete and a heck of a pitcher. He's been a great influence on this ballclub. Toward the end of (last) season, he sacrificed some of his starts for some of the young guys. He's just a special pitcher."

Now for your obligatory Bryce Harper update: The right fielder went 1-for-3 today, with the one hit coming on a sharp ground ball through the right side.

The first pitch Harper saw from Hernandez on the day was a typical Livo super-slow curveball - and Harper nearly came out of his cleats while taking a hack at it. Turns out, Harper had a feeling one of the slow benders was coming.

"I was actually hoping he'd throw me a curveball first pitch, but it was just down and I swung right through it," Harper said. "I made a commitment to it and did it.

"I'm just trying to get work in deep counts. 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, things like that. I want to be in those battle counts just to be in that situation and try not to do too much. Drive the ball to the left side and hit offspeed pitches. If I can see a lot of offspeed and get used to that, I think that's huge for me."

Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com's Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site's deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the "George Michael Sports Machine" in Washington, D.C.

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