LAKELAND, Fla. - If Jordan Zimmermann was trying to regain a measure of respect tonight against the Tigers after getting drilled in his last spring outing against the Cardinals, he's of to a good start. The right-hander has already touched 96 mph on the radar gun and has two strikeouts in the first two innings, as the Nationals lead Detroit 1-0.
Zimmermann's fastball is sitting around 93-94 mph, and he also threw a good-looking backdoor slider to Alex Avila at the end of the second; the pitch broke back over the left side of the plate, freezing Avila for the final strike of the second inning.
The Nationals' latest lineup wrinkle was responsible for their first run of the game. Nyjer Morgan beat out an infield single, stole second and scored on Jayson Werth's bloop to left. Morgan has now raised his average to .245 this spring after a 1-for-16 start, and has stolen four bases in his last five attempts. If he doesn't win the center field job - and it's looking at this point like he might not - it won't be because he isn't ending the spring doing what the Nationals want to see him do.