Detwiler dominates, Zimmerman pleased with spring progress

VIERA, Fla. - How about Ross Detwiler?

Making his World Baseball Classic debut last night, Detwiler worked four crucial innings, allowing just one hit and a walk with three strikeouts as Team USA beat Italy 6-2.

Detwiler came on in the sixth and went the final four innings, locking things down for the Americans.

The left-hander threw 51 pitches, 36 for strikes, and not only did he close out yesterday’s game, but he saved the Team USA bullpen, allowing manager Joe Torre’s late-inning relievers to be fresh entering today’s win-and-they’re-in game against Team Canada.

Can’t really ask for a much better outing from Detwiler in his first WBC appearance. He tweeted out a picture last night, saying he was keeping the game ball from his first ever save.

Cool stuff.

While Detwiler notched his first save, Ryan Zimmerman recorded his first homer of the spring yesterday in the Nationals’ win over the Marlins. Zimmerman crushed a 2-2 pitch from Brad Hand way out over the right-centerfield fence to tie the game.

Zimmerman is now batting .500 on the spring after yesterday’s 3-for-3 performance, which has to make the Nationals brass breathe at least a mini sigh of relief. They haven’t outwardly seemed to be concerned about how Zimmerman’s hitting stroke would respond after offseason shoulder surgery, but still, it’s nice to see the face of the franchise have six hits (two of which have been for extra bases) so far.

“I think it was pretty simple kind of by-the-book procedure that happens to a lot of people, so as long as I did the rehab right and stayed patient and tried not to rush something, I knew it’d be fine once we got back,” Zimmerman said yesterday.

“I felt fine in BP. It’s always nice to get hits and all that. I wouldn’t say I was nervous or anything about that coming back, but it’s always nice to get a couple (hits) and start driving the ball to gain some confidence.”

Zimmerman has been appreciative of the way the Nationals, and specifically manager Davey Johnson, have allowed him to attack his rehab this spring. Johnson has let Zimmerman come along slowly, allowing him to mostly just lift weights and take part in a throwing program to build up arm strength during the first couple of weeks of games.

Zimmerman should be getting into games as the third baseman sometime in the next week or two. Johnson has targeted March 18 as a possible starting point for that because that’s when teams stop using the DH in games, but the Nats will play things by ear. Zimmerman knows he’ll get in games defensively at some point this spring, and is in no rush to do so.

“(Johnson) just doesn’t want to rush it,” Zimmerman said. “He obviously wants me to get my at-bats, but he’s not worried about me throwing, he’d rather me take my time and get the strength up. Even if we were to wait ‘til the 18th, that’s still almost two weeks of games. That’s plenty of time to get groundballs and get back into it.

“Now it’s just a matter of volume. I can throw, I can do everything. It’s just a matter of doing it. And unfortunately, you can only do so much in one day. So you’ve just got to kind of wait and see how it feels the next day and kind of build off of that. Can’t really fast forward, just got to take it slow, which is kind of frustrating sometimes, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Dan Haren will take the mound for the Nats today as they take on the Tigers in Lakeland. I’ll have lineups and more in a bit.

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