VIERA, Fla. - If you'd seen Jason Marquis down here last year, you might have wondered why the Nationals had wanted him in the first place. In five starts he allowed about a run an inning - an ERA over. The Nationals weren't concerned, since Marquis' previous spring - with Colorado - had produced an ERA over 10, and he went on to match his career high with 15 wins in 33 starts.
His regular season, however, turned into a nightmare. Bone chips in his right elbow turned out to be the culprit, and it wasn't until September he was able to bring his ERA down to less than seven.
The 2011 springtime Marquis is a different story. He threw five innings today against the Tigers, allowing a single earned run - his first of the spring - on three hits, striking out three and walking two. His ERA currently stands at 0.76, but he cautions against reading anything into it.
"I've had real low ERAs at spring training before, and real high ones," Marquis said. "And they never had much to do with what happened during the regular season."
He said he's here to get his work in, and work on command. "I'm not concerned so much with east-west," he said. "I just want to keep pounding the bottom of the zone."
Marquis's position is secure this year, and beyond his usual motivation, is also in the final year of his contract. After struggling through 2010, he's anxious to show the fans why the Nationals pursued him as a free agent two winters ago.