Danny Espinosa homered twice and Doug Fister looked solid in his return from elbow inflammation as the Nationals continued their march towards the regular season.
Fister, who missed the past couple of weeks with an inflamed elbow, looked solid in his return. The righty threw three and two-thirds innings and allowed two hits while striking out four. Fister, a key offseason acquisition, is expected to help the Nats have one of the best rotations in baseball.
This was only Fister’s second start of the spring, however, and the team does not want to rush him as the season approaches. Fister is scheduled to pitch again next Thursday in the Nats final exhibition game in Florida. The team plans to evaluate him after that start and determine if he will miss any regular season starts.
Another important story line of today’s game was Danny Espinosa’s strong showing. The Nats started almost their entire projected opening day lineup, but substituted Espinosa for Anthony Rendon at second base. Espinosa took advantage of the opportunity going 2-for-4 with two home runs. His second home run was a solo walk-off in the ninth inning with the score tied at five.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time Espinosa receives during the season. Rendon is almost definitely going to start at second base, but if Espinosa can prove that he has remembered how to hit major league pitching, Matt Williams may find a way to get him into the lineup. This could include a lineup with Ryan Zimmerman at first base, Rendon at third, and Espinosa at second. He also has the potential to be traded because of his versatility in the field that allows him to play second, shortstop, and third.
Adam LaRoche also had a solid game today. He went 2-for-3 with a homer and a double. LaRoche needs a strong start to the season as he has been dropped to seventh in the batting order and there have been questions about his ability to hit left-handed pitching. Where he ends up batting and how much he plays is a story line to watch as the season begins.
- The Nats put on a defensive shift multiple times in the game. Look for this often during the regular season, as Matt Williams is a much bigger fan of shifts than Davey Johnson was.
- Ross Detwiler allowed three earned runs in one inning today to continue his disappointing spring.
- Rafael Soriano struck out two, but allowed a home run in his one inning of work. He continues to progress towards regular season strength.
- Bryce Harper went 2-4 with a double and a run scored. He has had a slow spring so far, but hopefully is beginning to heat up.