Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Scott Olsen allowed three runs and seven hits but said his surgically repaired arm felt great.
So why was the left-hander grinning from ear-to-ear?
"This was the best I've felt so far, by far," he said. "Every bullpen, every batting practice, everything we've done so far ... this is the best I've felt arm-wise."
When you're eight months removed from major surgery to repair a torn labrum and can still throw a baseball 87 mph and hit your spots with some consistency ... well, the results on the scoreboard don't matter a whole lot.
Make no mistake, Olsen can't keep pitching like this all spring and expect to make the Opening Day roster. At some point in the next week or two, results will matter. For now, it's all about the state of his left arm, and the 26-year-old had no complaints about that today.
More than anything, Olsen was ecstatic simply to emerge with his arm intact. Before uncorking that first 86 mph fastball to the Marlins' Chris Coghlan, he wasn't 100 percent sure that would be the case.
"Oh, there's worry. Trust me, there's worry," he said. "Not scared, but worried and nervous for how it was going to respond and how it was going to react to being in a game for the first time. But everything we passed with flying colors. It feels OK. Obviously, it's going to get stiff tonight and when I wake up tomorrow it's going to be a little stiff. But it's normal."
Olsen was victimized by some bad luck. Three of Florida's five hits in the top of the first were either bloopers or infield singles. But Jorge Cantu's three-run homer -- on an 81-mph changeup that Olsen left over the plate -- was entirely the pitcher's fault.
That poorly located pitch was one of only a handful of offerings Olsen felt didn't hit its intended spot. He was very happy with his location, not to mention his arm strength.
"This is a positive, and a step in the right direction for me," he said.
For today, that's good enough. Next time out? Olsen is going to need to take another significant step forward if he wants to walk back into that clubhouse with the same grin on his face.