Williams “leaning towards” Rendon as opening day second baseman, plus more notes

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Nationals are currently on their way to the airport, ready to ship on back to D.C. ahead of Saturday’s exhibition game against the Tigers.

They wait for word on Doug Fister, who will see the team doctor tomorrow after being diagnosed with a right lat strain, which caused him to leave his minor league start today after just one inning.

The Nats closed out their Grapefruit League slate here today with a 4-0 win over the Mets. Jordan Zimmermann went five scoreless innings, Denard Span had three hits, Bryce Harper had two hits and an RBI, and Danny Espinosa reached base three times in the win.

Speaking of Espinosa, manager Matt Williams was asked following the game whether he was ready to declare a starting second baseman at this point. At the beginning of camp, Williams declared it an “open competition” between Espinosa and Anthony Rendon for that spot, although all indications have been that Rendon has led the competition since day one.

“I think that if we look at it right now, I would say that we’ll take a hard look at Anthony for game one,” Williams said. “But again, we have to see how we go in the next couple of days. We have one more game to play. I think it’s premature at this point, still, to declare anybody. But I’m leaning towards Anthony in that regard, but we’ll see.

“He’s been sick. We have to make sure he’s through his illness and all that stuff. But the last couple of days, he’s seemed to come through it fine.”

Rendon hit .289 with two doubles and a homer in 45 at-bats this spring, while Espinosa’s spring average sits at .226 with three doubles and two homers in 53 at-bats.

Espinosa will likely slide in as a versatile utility man and a skilled defender, capable of playing second or short.

Kevin Frandsen got his first action in a Nats uniform today, going 1-for-2 with a double and a strikeout.

“We put a hit-and-run on, and he did the whole, I’m going to hit the ball before it hits me,” Williams said with a smile. “Then next pitch, he hit a double. He was right on the signs, he was right on playing all over the diamond. He’s a pro. He knows what he’s doing.”

Zimmermann was his typical self in his final spring tune-up before the regular season, pounding the strike zone and getting quick outs. He needed just 71 pitches over his five innings, and then got in some more work in the bullpen before calling it a day.

“I felt like I did what I needed to do to get ready for the season,” Zimmermann said. “Ball’s coming out good right now. Got a good feel of all the pitches and I’m healthy, so I’m ready to go.”

Zimmermann will face the Mets again in a week, but that didn’t stop him from showing his full repertoire today.

“No, I went after them,” he said. “Threw everything at them, and bottom line, they’re gonna have to hit the same stuff I throw here as I do up there. I’m not trying to trick ‘em by not showing them everything. I have to get ready myself. I was throwing everything.”

Zimmermann took a David Wright comebacker in the right hamstring in the first inning, but brushed it off.

“It’s better there than the knee or something else,” he said. “I’ll be fine.”

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