Rendon goes yard, Zimmermann feels his changeup is improving

VIERA, Fla. - We're back under way after a rain delay of 1 hour, 6 minutes, and the Nationals' lineup looks a heck of a lot different than it did before the tarp was pulled onto the field.

Denard Span, Bryce Harper, Chad Tracy, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki have all been pulled, with a host of minor leaguers replacing them in the lineup.

Anthony Rendon just went yard to right-center, a two-run shot off Marlins right-hander Ryan Webb.

Rendon hit just six home runs in 133 at-bats last season, but he got a hold of one today for his first hit of spring. The longball gives the Nats a 2-1 lead after five innings.

Jordan Zimmermann was pleased with his outing this afternoon, a three-inning, 43-pitch performance that saw him surrender one run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout.

"I thought it went well," Zimmermann said. "I threw strikes and was attacking the hitters. I mixed in a few changeups which were mostly good ones. I'm happy with the first outing.

"I've been throwing off a mound for a while now, so just going out there and attacking and throwing strikes. I threw a few that were on the corner that I thought could've gone either way, but for the most part, I was getting groundballs, getting early contact, and that's what I was trying to do."

Like most pitchers in their first outing of spring, Zimmermann worked mostly with his fastball, which had good movement and was located nicely down in the zone for much of the game. He also threw four changeups, a pitch that he's been developing for a couple of years now but is starting to feel more comfortable with.

The right-hander's fastball was clocked by scouts at 93-94 mph, and his changeup registered in the 83-mph range.

"It's perfect," Zimmermann said, when informed of the changeup's velocity. "Right where I want it."

Seven of the nine outs Zimmermann recorded were of the groundball variety.

"It's not so much (the) movement, it's just keeping it down in the zone," Zimmermann said. "I threw a fastball to (Matt) Downs that I struck him out on that was sinking more than normal. That's good. If I have a little more movement and keep it down, I'm going to get a lot of groundballs."

Asked what he wants to focus on the rest of spring, Zimmermann brought the focus back to his changeup, which he only threw 2.2 percent of the time last season.

"I want to keep working on this changeup and get it to where I can throw it (when the count is) 2-0 and throw it whenever I want, basically," he said. "That's the main goal right now.

"It feels good right now. I have good feel for it. I threw a changeup to Dobbs at the end and got him to roll over to first. He was sitting on a heater, so that was good."

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