Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Rain is in the forecast today at Space Coast Stadium.
Assuming the rain holds off enough to allow the Nationals and Mets and to play, we'll get a good look at Jim Riggleman's new lineup. He has Jayson Werth batting third today, with Ryan Zimmerman fourth, and that's the direction he's leaning toward for the regular season. The idea: Werth is a high-OBP guy, giving Zimmerman more RBI opportunities.
"I'd like to have some men on base when Zim comes up, and if Werth is that guy, that would be real good," Riggleman said.
Against right-handers, Riggleman will probably have Adam LaRoche batting fifth, with the left fielder du jour sixth. Against tough lefties (such as the Mets' Jon Niese, who starts today), LaRoche will probably hit sixth with Michael Morse fifth.
Speaking of LaRoche, he's going to be restricted to DH duties for a couple of days due to some soreness in his left shoulder. Riggleman didn't seem too concerned about it, though it's obviously worth watching.
Plenty of updates to come throughout the day...
METS at NATIONALS
Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Weather: Showers, 78 degrees, Wind 12 mph RF to LF
STARTING LINEUPS10:39 a.m. -- It's been raining pretty good here for a while. The tarp has been on the field throughout and BP was moved to the covered cages. Folks here are saying they should be able to play the game, but if it was scheduled to start right now, there would definitely be a delay.
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
DH Adam LaRoche
C Ivan Rodriguez
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Chris Marrero
(P Livan Hernandez)
SS Jose Reyes
LF Willie Harris
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
2B Brad Emaus
DH Lucas Duda
C Josh Thole
RF Fernando Martinez
CF Jason Pridie
(P Jon Niese)
12:27 p.m. -- The rain has subsided and it looks like this game will start on-time, a welcome development indeed. Also, as surely you've noticed, this site suddenly looks very different. As part of its purchase of Nats Insider, CSNwashington.com has been planning a redesign of the site. This is only the first stage, there will be more to come and I hope you'll like the more-professional look that the site will eventually be taking. As always, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions, so please include those in the comments section.
1:05 p.m. -- Livan Hernandez starts off Jose Reyes with a ball, and we are underway.
1:09 p.m. -- And the Mets jump out to a 1-0 lead. Reyes smoked Livo's second pitch to right field for a double, then took third on a flyout to center. David Wright lofted a high fly ball to shallow right-center. Nyjer Morgan had a clear path to the ball and it looked like he'd take it, but then Jayson Werth called him off at the last second. Werth's throw to the plate was just slightly off-line, and Reyes slid in with the day's first run.
1:18 p.m. -- So, Jim Riggleman's plan to bat Jayson Werth third and Ryan Zimmerman fourth? Didn't quite work out as hoped in the bottom of the first. After Morgan grounded out and Ian Desmond lined out, Werth showed his plate patience and drew a full-count walk. Zimmerman, though, struck out on three pitches to strand his new teammate on first base. Something tells me Zim will get a few more opportunities this season to advance Werth.
1:25 p.m. -- Fantastic diving catch by Nyjer to end the top of the second. He came charging straight in on Fernando Martinez's sinking liner and dove to make a backhand stab. New outfield coach Bo Porter has been working with Morgan this spring to play a bit shallower than he did last year, and it looks like that positioning helped pay off there.
1:33 p.m. -- Another base hit for Michael Morse, who hit a chopper to short that Reyes couldn't handle to lead off the bottom of the second. Morse, though, was subsequently gunned down trying to steal second. Adam LaRoche grounded out in his first at-bat as a National. Danny Espinosa struck out to end the inning. Heading down to the stands to take some photos for a couple of innings. Will be back.
2:18 p.m. -- OK, back in the press box now. Plenty to recap. We're now in the bottom of the fifth, the Nats now leading 4-1 thanks to a four-run fourth. The big blow came from Danny Espinosa, who crushed a two-run homer to right off reliever Manny Alvarez. Pudge also roped an RBI double to left for his first hit of the spring. And Morse just continues to rake at the plate. He's 2-for-2 today with a pair of singles, making him 5-for-7 the last two days. Morgan, on the other hand, is now 0-for-6 and hasn't hit the ball out of the infield. He popped up a bunt in the third inning, just not a good effort at all. As for pitching, Livo was solid in his three innings of work. And Ross Detwiler has cruised through his first two innings in relief.
2:22 p.m. -- Bryce Harper is on the board. He just came off the bench to hit for Werth and stroked his first hit of the spring, a line drive single to left. It came on 1-0 pitch from right-hander Pedro Beato. Harper then went hard into second base trying to break up a double play. Wasn't dirty at all, but it might have been a bit harder of a slide than you'll usually see in spring training. Still 4-1 Nats as we go to the sixth. Harper has taken over in right field.
2:35 p.m. -- A scoreless inning of relief from flamethrower Cole Kimball. The right-hander walked David Wright, struck out Ike Davis and looked pretty fired up as he trotted off the field after Derek Norris made a nice catch of a foul-pop right up against the screen. Still 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth.
3:09 p.m. -- Bryce Harper's second at-bat just came in the bottom of the seventh, with one out, runners on the corners and veteran right-hander Bobby Parnell on the mound. Parnell got ahead of the kid 0-2, both swinging strikes, then threw a breaking ball in the dirt. Harper laid off the pitch, and Alex Cora took advantage by advancing to second. That left runners on second and third and brought the Mets infield in. On Parnell's 1-2 pitch, Harper hit a chopper to first base, with Corey Brown getting thrown out at the plate. Brown came up lame, looked to be his left ankle. He had to be helped off the field by trainer Lee Kuntz. It's now 5-1 Nats as they head to the eighth.
3:45 p.m. -- Just got a chance to see Bryce Harper show off his arm. He had a chance to end the game with a throw to the plate with two outs in the ninth. Fired a pretty good two-hopper to the plate, but Derek Norris was unable to snag the ball, so the run scored. No worries, Drew Storen closed it out. Nats win 5-3.