VIERA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann’s work day is over 25 minutes after he threw his first pitch. But as manager Matt Williams likes to say, “That’s a good thing.”
Zimmermann quickly got in his two innings of work this afternoon, allowing just an infield single to Jordan Schafer leading off the game. The Nationals right-hander got five ground balls and struck out Dan Uggla to end the second inning.
He threw 20 pitches, 15 for strikes.
Zimmermann worked quickly, he attacked the zone and now he gets to take a seat. Left-hander Matt Purke has taken over for the Nationals here to start the top of the third inning.
All-in-all, a nice spring debut for Zimmermann, and about what we’d expect to see out of the right-hander, really.
Shortstop Danny Espinosa was busy in the first inning. He nearly threw out the speedy Schafer on his grounder deep into the hole, turned a 6-3 double play on an Andrelton Simmons grounder up the middle and then made a smooth spinning play to get Freddie Freeman to end the frame.
Bryce Harper’s first spring at-bat resulted in a hard-hit line drive right at Freeman at first base.
Jose Lobaton singled in his first spring at-bat in a Nats uniform in the second inning. That was followed with a single to center by Zach Walters (who is now 3-for-3 this spring), but Steven Souza Jr. grounded out to end the frame and strand the two Nats runners.
Update: Purke’s spring debut was a rough one, as the left-hander was pulled with one out in the fourth inning, having allowed six baserunners and retired just four Braves batters.
It’s never a good thing when a manager needs to make a mid-inning pitching change this early in spring.
Purke’s command was off, and seemingly everything put in play off him was hit hard. He surrendered two runs in the third and then two more in the fourth, with Matt Lipka’s two-run single off Blake Treinen allowing two inherited runners to score, both of which were charged to Purke.
Purke’s line: 1 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 37 pitches, 20 strikes.
Treinen allowed one more run in the fifth on Schafer’s RBI double.
The Nats got two runs in the third on sacrifice flies by Anthony Rendon (on a deep fly ball to left that came up a couple of feet short of a homer) and Tyler Moore.
First baseman Brock Peterson got it all started with a double leading off the third. Denard Span had two stolen bases in the frame, the second of which came when he and Harper executed a double steal.
There’s that aggressive Matt Williams mentality, I guess.