Updates on Murphy, Werth and Rendon (Nats fall 8-1)


Score: Red Sox 8, Nats 1

Recap: In their final Grapefruit League game of the year - but only their first of three straight exhibition games against the Red Sox - the Nationals watched as Joe Ross got his work in. Ross went five prolonged innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batter but did strike out seven. Five regulars (Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Matt Wieters) were in the lineup but managed only one run off Red Sox starter Kyle Kendrick (via Turner's double and Harper's RBI single in the top of the first).

Need to know: The Nationals finished Grapefruit League play with a 13-17-4 record. Since 2012, they've won the National League East in years when they had a winning spring training record and missed the playoffs when they had a losing spring training record.

On deck: Friday, vs. Red Sox at Nationals Park, 4:05 p.m.

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Though they avoided major injuries to prominent players this spring, the Nationals are dealing with some nagging ailments to several key regulars as they prepare to head north.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon all have been sidelined in recent days, though Murphy was back in the lineup for today's Grapefruit League finale.

Murphy had been ill for several days but felt well enough to take at-bats in a minor league game Wednesday and to start at second base today against the Red Sox. This is a critical time for the veteran, who spent 2 1/2 weeks mostly sitting on the bench for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic and is just 5-for-24 in a Nationals uniform this spring.

Manager Dusty Baker had originally hoped to have Murphy serve as designated hitter today, but Murphy also wanted to get some quality time in the field with shortstop Trea Turner, so he's gutting it out.

rendon-home-run-nlds-sidebar.jpgRendon made the trip with the rest of the team this morning from West Palm Beach but is not in the lineup, his left calf still adorned with a deep bruise after he fouled a pitch off it earlier in the week. Baker hopes to have his third baseman in the lineup for Friday's exhibition against the Red Sox at Nationals Park.

Werth, meanwhile, did not travel to Fort Myers, still nursing a sore toe on his left foot, also the result of a foul ball Tuesday night. The reason he didn't make the trip, though, had little to do with his toe. Baker said he didn't want to subject the 37-year-old to the 2 1/2-hour bus ride, not wanting to risk any kind of back injury.

Ryan Zimmerman, Max Scherzer and Gio González also were given permission to skip this trip. They instead held a light workout at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this morning and then flew back to D.C. on their own.

Update: Joe Ross' final spring start is done, and it had a little bit of everything in it. The right-hander allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings, walking two and plunking another batter. That's the bad part. The good part: He struck out seven, so clearly his stuff was good today. Most of the damage came in the bottom of the ssecond, with Dustin Pedroia's two-run double and Andrew Benintendi's subsequent RBI triple causing the most damage. A double to left by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the bottom of the third produced Boston's other run.

The Nationals got a first-inning run off Kyle Kendrick when Trea Turner doubled off the top of the not-Green Monster in deep left-center, then took third on a passed ball and scored on Bryce Harper's single to center. They haven't done much else at the plate, though, twice stranding the bases loaded in the first six innings.

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