Jordan Zimmermann stellar again, not optimistic about contract extension

VIERA, Fla. - On a windy day with storms all over Florida, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann was able to bear down and deliver another solid performance in today’s 1-1 tie with the Cardinals. The right-hander allowed just one run while scattering four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.

“I felt good, felt strong,” said Zimmermann. “Arm felt fine. It wasn’t the ideal conditions to pitch in today, but I survived.”

“I didn’t have very good control of anything. Moving around on the mound. Breaking balls weren’t really breaking and it’s tough to throw those in a cross wind. It felt good for the most part.”

zimmermann-red-close-smile-sidebar.jpgZimmermann has given up only three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings this spring.

“The first couple starts, I was working on some stuff and just working on some pitches, but now I’m setting guys up and attacking and going after them like I would during the season,” said Zimmermann. “I feel good. Just building up the pitches and getting stronger every time out. For the most part, I’m feeling strong and ready to go.”

The 28-year-old Zimmermann is due to make one more exhibition start before the start of the season. Nationals manager Matt Williams passed over Zimmermann for the opening day start in favor of new ace Max Scherzer, and the mild-mannered Zimmermann appeared indifferent to the decision.

“Anyone of us could start opening day and I’m not a guy that’s gonna get mad about not being able to start. As long as I’m going out there every five days, that’s all that matters,” said Zimmermann.

Meanwhile, it appears as though Zimmermann will enter his final season with the Nats unsure of his future with the organization. The Nats’ second round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft is in the final year of his contract.

“I’m just not going to talk (about a contract) during the season,” said Zimmermann. “If something gets done before then, which is probably pretty rare right now, then it gets done. But it’s not looking good.”

Williams deflected questions after the game in reaction to Zimmermann’s comments on contract talks.

“My sense is that I’ve got to get us prepared for opening day, and I can’t think of anything else,” said Williams. “There’s way too many other things to think about other than that. I know that regardless of what the situation is come opening day, these guys are going to compete. And that’s all I worry about.”

storen-red-throwing-sidebar.jpgCloser Drew Storen returned to the mound for the first time since having the hook of his hamate bone removed from his left hand in surgery on March 13. Storen loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, but was able to work out of the jam.

“It felt good,” said Storen. “I threw a pretty decent amount of pitches. I felt in control and it was good. I threw in the minor league game. I’ve been throwing. My effort level hasn’t really diminished that much. That was the one thing going into the whole process that I knew, that my throwing wasn’t going to take a big hit, so that was really important for me.”

Storen had only pitched one exhibition inning before the procedure. He doesn’t appear concerned with his arm despite the few outings before the start of the season.

“I think if anything, it’s like perfect,” he said. “That’s where I kind of knew I was at. I knew I was at a fork in the road where if I was going to do something, I needed to do it then because I knew I had the perfect amount of time to get ready for the season. So I’m really happy with where my workload will be this spring.”

It may just be spring training, but the Nats offense has hit the skids. They’ve only managed just four runs in the past 27 innings and three came in the sixth in yesterday’s loss to the Mets.

“I’m seeing not a lot of production,” said Williams. “We’ve got to get on that one. It’s important for us to be productive, take advantage of the situations that we have. Guys out there on the bases, we want to get them in. We’re going to have to do a better job of that. That goes without saying, but it’s true.”

Catcher Jose Lobaton and outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. accounted for five of the Nats’ seven hits today. Lobaton was 3-for-3 with two doubles while driving in the Nats’ only run. Gwynn raised his spring average to .368 with two singles in four at-bats.

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