I'm not going to write any kind of formal game story for spring training games - those will probably roll around during the regular season - but in this space each day, I'll provide a few post-game thoughts and point out some things to watch for.
So, in college, my friends at the Minnesota Daily gave me the nickname "Goose," because Goessling, if mispronounced, sounds like gosling, the name for a baby goose. (For the record: It's Guess-ling. It's probably supposed to be spelled with a German umlaut, which would combine the o and the e. But for our Americanized purposes, just ignore the o, or pretend it's a u). Therefore, without further ado, I present my Official Unofficial Spring Training Rating System: the Golden Geese and the Goose Eggs.
Garrett Mock: He fell behind 2-0 to Michael Bourn, but threw 13 of his next 19 pitches for strikes, and pitched out of a couple jams - one with the help of a relay to throw out Jason Castro at home plate.
All but two of Mock's pitches were fastballs, and his command of the pitch is an encouraging sign, since he's had a tendency to nibble with his off-speed stuff too much. A good first step for a guy who needs to attack hitters more.
Drew Storen: The closer of the future had an impressive first outing, needing just nine pitches to get through one inning and striking out Chris Johnson on a sharp curveball. He threw four different pitches - a four-seam fastball, a two-seamer, a curve and a slider - in the inning he pitched. He's got a nice complement of pitches, a heavy sinker and the right mentality for a closer. Again, still early, but I think he's going to be a good one. So in his first big-league game, Storen gets a Golden Goose.
J.D. Martin: In his first outing, Martin worked two perfect innings and struck out one in a 10-4 loss to the Marlins in Jupiter. He needed to come out with a smooth first outing, and he did that.
Shairon Martis: Yes, the wind wasn't helping Martis in his disastrous fourth inning during a 15-5 loss to the Astros. But the right-hander also didn't help himself.
"In (my) second inning, I left the ball high in the zone," Martis said. "That's why I got hit."
Martis will have several more chances to put the outing behind him, but he needs to get back to the way he was pitching last spring. I don't think he - or anyone else - can afford to struggle too long in this camp, since there are so many pitchers in contention for starting spots.
Luis Atilano: The Nationals like the young pitcher, but he gave up four runs on five hits in an inning against the Marlins today. Not the end of the world, but also not a strong start for the 24-year-old right-hander.
Adam Dunn: He went 0-for-3, grounded into a double play and left three runners on base in the Marlins game. You know Dunn is going to be fine, though, and the report from PR man Bill Gluvna is that Dunn played a decent game in the field.
What to watch:
The key for Garrett Mock the rest of the spring will be what he does when he starts going through lineups for a second and third time. Last year, he gave up six of his nine homers when facing an opponent for the second time, and batters facing Mock a third time hit .329 off him with a .430 on-base percentage. Once hitters get a chance to see him and make adjustments, that's when we'll see if Mock's new aggressive approach can stick.
For Shairon Martis, it's easy enough to write this one off as a wind-aided fluke if he can start getting the ball down in the zone next time.
The reason the Nats weren't hitting homers today in Kissimmee is because they couldn't get the ball up in the air - routine pop-ups were flying out, like they did on the homer Jason Bergmann gave up. But Martis hasn't been as aggressive as he needs to be since starting 5-0 last year, and the Nationals need to see that pitcher the next time out.
"He threw a lot of strikes, but when he stayed up, he got in trouble," catcher Wil Nieves said.
Roger Bernadina made a number of impressive plays in left field today, starting the relay that led to the Nationals throwing out Jason Castro at the plate in the second inning. He might be the Nationals' strongest defensive player among their reserve outfield candidates, and could definitely snag a spot on this team. The fact that he went 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs didn't hurt, either.
The Nationals travel to Disney's Wide World of Sports tomorrow to take on the Atlanta Braves. Miguel Batista will be on the mound for the Nats, and we'll get our first look at Ryan Zimmerman for the spring. First pitch is 1:05 p.m.
Thanks for all the comments and questions during the live thread today. It was a lot of fun, and we'll do that throughout the spring. If you've got any ideas for how to make it better or things you'd like to see, just leave them in the comments section of the live thread. And you're welcome to scroll back through it.
Time to start the drive back to the Residence Inn in Melbourne - Pam's having her baby on "The Office" tonight! Talk to you later.