VIERA, Fla. - A disclaimer first: Garrett Mock wasn't helped much by the Nationals' defense in the fourth and fifth innings today. Michael Morse dropped an easy fly ball that would have allowed him to double J.D. Martinez off first if he'd caught it, and Martinez reached in the first place because of catcher's interference on Ivan Rodriguez.
But there were plenty of things Mock did in his 1 1/3 innings of work that were his fault - most notably the flat fastball he threw to Chris Johnson that turned into a three-run homer. There were also two walks he issued to set up the homer. And when he handed the ball to pitching coach Steve McCatty without a word, exiting his second spring outing with an 18.00 ERA for the exhibition season, it continued to look like he won't put it all together.
Mock allowed four runs, three of them earned, giving up a pair of hits and walks in his second rough spring outing. The Nationals are currently down 7-5 in the seventh, and if they wind up falling in this one, Mock will take the loss.
Manager Jim Riggleman has said the Nationals will continue to be patient with Mock, because they love his stuff. But they'll also continue to be patient with him because they don't have to be impatient with him; he's got a minor league option left, by virtue of the neck injury that kept him on the disabled list most of last year and canceled out his optional assignment to Syracuse last April. He'll probably start in Syracuse, but there's always been a big gap for him between succeeding in the minors and the majors. Based on Monday's results, it looks like he's still on the wrong side of that gap.