VIERA, Fla. - We're in the third inning at Space Coast Stadium, and if an early indication is worth anything, Jason Marquis looks like he's finally ready to be the pitcher the Nationals paid $15 million for in December 2009.
He cruised through his first spring start, giving up one hit and facing the minimum in three innings. Marquis got six ground ball outs in those nine batters, including a double play to end the first inning. He needed just 24 pitches to get through his start.
Take it for what it's worth, but this is exactly the formula Marquis has used to last in the majors for more than a decade. He worked quick, let his sinker work and got quick outs. He was helped in a few instances by Braves hitters swinging early in the count, but he got the job done. Contrast that with last year, when Marquis was struggling to find command of his pitches all spring and then got off to a disastrous start before undergoing elbow surgery.
The Nationals and Braves are scoreless in the bottom of the third. The game was just stopped for two minutes because of a swarm of bees in right field. It was an odd sight - eight Braves players ran off the field, and fans scurried away from their seats down the right field line as Braves right fielder Jordan Schafer hit the deck. But we're back underway now, though.