VIERA, Fla. - So far today, we’ve had news that Stephen Strasburg will be the Nationals’ opening day starter, Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche possibly not being ready for the start of the season, Steve Lombardozzi making his first career appearance in the outfield and word that Chien-Ming Wang will likely start the regular season on the DL.
Just another quiet afternoon at Space Coast Stadium.
The Nationals needed one more strike to close this day out with a win over the Braves, but Ryan Perry couldn’t get the job done, allowing a two-out, two-strike single to Jordan Parraz, scoring the tying run.
How dare the Nats try to finish a game in nine innings?
After the Braves scored twice in the top of the 10th, things took an interesting turn in the bottom half of the inning, when manager Davey Johnson needed to send Perry out to hit with the potential game-tying runner standing on second base.
Johnson didn’t have any position players left on his bench because the Nats’ Double-A and Triple-A clubs were out of town and veteran infielder Mark DeRosa was allowed to go home early, so Perry needed to grab a bat and try and make up for his blown save.
“The way I had the pitching lined up, it would’ve had to go 10 innings for the pitcher to hit,” Johnson said. “And I should’ve known (that’s what would happen). So it was a major screw-up on my part, letting (DeRosa) go home.”
Johnson joked that he thought about having bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo hop out there and take some cuts in Perry’s place. Instead, the 6-foot-4 pitcher had to pick up a helmet and put in some extra work. Perry actually fouled off three pitches before striking out to end the game.
“I haven’t swung a bat in like seven years. Looked like it was 100 coming at me,” Perry said with a chuckle. “I would’ve liked to hang a zero in the ninth inning and walk off the field, game over. But it doesn’t go that way sometimes. Obviously, don’t want to be put in that position.”
Johnson said he was happy with the progress shown by starter John Lannan today, but he wished the lefty didn’t have to work as hard as he did to get through four innings.
“I thought he threw the ball OK,” Johnson said. “He threw too many pitches. I thought he had good stuff, he had good sink. I think he had 75 pitches in four innings; that’s not typical Lannan. But he pitched a lot better.”
The Nats will keep Lannan on his current schedule, which has him pitching every fifth day.
Chad Durbin threw two scoreless innings in relief of Lannan today, allowing just one hit and striking out one. The outing lowered Durbin’s spring ERA to 2.38.
The veteran righty is on a minor league contract, and given the number of quality arms on the Nats’ roster, he’ll have a tough time cracking the seven-man bullpen.
“The previous time he got roughed up a little bit, but the majority of the time, I’ve liked the way he’s thrown the ball,” Johnson said. “Veteran pitcher, knows how to pitch. It’s just my bullpen’s kind of crowded. But I like him as a pitcher.”
Johnson gave Lombardozzi a passing grade for his play in left field today. Lombardozzi had three balls come his way, including one in the 10th inning, when thought about trying to throw out Tyler Pastornicky tagging up from third on a sac fly, but double-clutched and then lobbed the ball into the infield.
“He has no play at home,” Johnson said. “I’m just glad he didn’t cut loose and hurt his arm trying to throw someone out from left.”