VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals are 3-0 thus far in spring training. Start printing those World Series tickets.
The results here in spring mean nothing, but there were plenty of positives for manager Matt Williams to pull from today’s 10-3 win over the Marlins, far more positives than he was able to pull from yesterday’s ugly 16-15 victory over the Braves.
Doug Fister, making his first spring start as a National, allowed one run over two innings today, striking out two. Fister said that his stuff today was “erratic,” but felt the outing was a nice building block. Williams agreed that it was a nice first step for the Nats right-hander.
“Good. Typical first inning for him,” Williams said. “Thirteen out of 18 strikes. Commanded the zone. Gave up a hit with the man in scoring position. But he’s not going to shy away from throwing the ball in strike zone. Got a double play ball. Perfect. A good outing for him.”
The Nats had 11 hits on the game, two of which came from catcher Wilson Ramos, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Two others came from shortstop Zach Walters, who went 2-for-2 with a triple and an RBI.
Walters is now 5-for-5 with three extra-base hits this spring, and he’s made a couple of sharp defensive plays, as well, like his diving stop of a Joe Benson grounder in the hole in the eighth inning. Walters corralled the ball, hopped to his feet and delivered a strike to first to nab Benson for the third out.
“He’s doing everything that he’s asked to do and swinging it from both sides of the plate and playing great defense,” Williams said of Walters. “Couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Nats had another stolen base today, this one again coming from Ian Desmond, who swiped second base in the first inning, leading to a run on Ramos’ RBI single. This was Desmond’s second stolen base of spring and the Nats’ sixth in three games as a team.
“We want to apply pressure,” Williams said. “It’s both sides of the ball. We did it a little bit defensively yesterday and got burnt doing it, playing the infield in so many times. But we want to work on that. We want to do that type of stuff. But offensively we want to get guys in motion. We have the ability to do that and we might as well use that weapon. It’s been going good. We’re going to continue to do it.
“It’s that we want to establish how we play. And it won’t happen every day. We’ll monitor everybody’s health and legs and all that stuff. If he feels like doing it, we’re going to let him do it. He’s got speed to do it so he picks his spot and goes.”
Nats fans also got their first look at left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins today. Blevins worked a scoreless ninth to close out the win, walking one and striking out one. Williams was asked what he saw from Blevins today.
“What we’ve seen on tape, why Mike (Rizzo, general manager) liked him,” Williams said. “The ability to command the strike zone. Get righties out. Use all of his pitches certainly. He was good. He’s down in the zone. He’s like Doug, down in the zone all the time. Ball sinks and induces a lot of grounders.
“Cutter, sinker, curveball, changeup. Throws them all, which makes him effective to right-handers, too. The ability to sink the ball away and cut the ball in. And he’s got command, which is huge. We saw a little bit of it today. Go away, away, away, then pop a fastball in there on the corner. It doesn’t light up radar gun but he has command within the zone.”