Fister not sharp again, but Harper and company play longball

VIERA, Fla. - Nationals right-hander Doug Fister has struggled the past few times he’s taken the hill. The Marlins tagged Fister for three home runs in the Nats’ 11-7 win this afternoon. He’s allowed 13 earned runs and given up six homers in just five starts this spring.

“Basically command (was the issue), mostly on the sinker,” said Fister. “Making sure that it’s down and on the corners. It was up a little bit too much today. Gotta keep it down, but in and out it wasn’t too bad. I’m throwing my breaking ball a little bit better. A little bit better with the cutter also. Seeing some good lights at the end of the tunnel, but obviously there’s going to be little things that I need to finish and make sure I take care of. “

fister-pitching-red-front-sidebar.jpgFister is scheduled to make one more Grapefruit League start before assuming his role in the five spot in the Nats rotation, which should set him up to face the Phillies on the road during the first weekend of the regular season. He’s not worried about the added time off.

“I think that, at this point in spring, it’s kind of a good thing to get an extra day,” Fister said. “Kind of recoup or throw a couple extra bullpens, kind of fine-tune things down there versus in a game. Even if that means seeing if we can get a couple hitters on a back field to just stand in on a bullpen or whatever it may be. There’s other options not throwing in a game can do for us.”

The Nationals scored seven of their 11 runs off homers on a gusty day at Space Coast Stadium. Center fielder Michael A. Taylor ignited the firepower with a leadoff homer in the first. Right fielder Bryce Harper followed with a titanic blow to right-center a few batters later. Catcher Wilson Ramos struck with a solo shot in the third and fellow backstop Jose Lobaton capped off the artillery show with a three-run blast in the eighth.

“It’s all about good contact,” said manager Matt Williams. “I think our guys made some good contact today. Wilson, Loby, Bryce, of course. It’s good to have that as we get closer. The fact that they’re staying on the baseball middle of the diamond is good. So I liked all of that. And it certainly helps with our confidence to get hits. The results are great but it’s about their approach. They were good today.”

Besides the Marlins’ homers against Fister, the Nats’ fielding was also shaky with the starter picking up an error along with second baseman Dan Uggla. The defense has made numerous unforced errors throughout the exhibition season.

“I think there’s major room for improvement,” said Williams. “It’s one of the things that sticks in my craw a little bit because we work so hard at it. But nonetheless we just keep going, keep improving, keep working. We work on it every single day. We just keep at it. It’s all we can do. Guys want to play good defense. They want to be good at the other side of the ball as well. So we’ll keep working.”

Williams revealed after the game that right-hander Casey Janssen will undergo a MRI test on his sore right shoulder tomorrow.

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