Clippard's spring debut a strong one, Rendon in at short

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Tyler Clippard took a while before getting into a spring game, but once he did, he looked just like his old self.

Clippard pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning tonight, striking out Christian Bethancourt swinging for the second out of the frame.

The right-hander threw nine pitches, seven for strikes. He threw three changeups, by my count.

That pitch is still nasty, even on March 1.

We got a bit of a surprise in the sixth when Anthony Rendon trotted out to shortstop to take over for Danny Espinosa.

Rendon saw all his time at third in the minors last season, but the Nationals want him to get some experience at short and second base this spring. That would allow him to fill in should a starter go down to injury.

The Nationals trail 4-1 here in the seventh, after Ross Ohlendorf allowed two runs in the fifth.

B.J. Upton ripped a double off the left field wall to plate two Braves, but the Nats nearly cut one of those runs down at the plate on a perfectly executed relay.

Corey Brown snatched the ball off the wall on a bounce and fired to Espinosa, who unleashed a seed to catcher Sandy Leon. The tag was just a bit late, but that relay will make Davey Johnson pretty happy.

As happy as he can be while trailing 4-1 with his team posting just two hits, that is.

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