Marlins 2, Nationals 2(10)

By the time spring training ends, Jordan Zimmermann wants to

have enough confidence in his changeup that he can throw it in any

count.

Zimmermann was pleased with the results of his first Grapefruit

League test Sunday, when he pitched three innings for the

Washington Nationals in a 2-2 tie with the Miami Marlins that was

stopped after 10 innings.

”It feels good right now,” Zimmermann said. ”I have a good

feel for it. I threw a changeup to (Greg) Dobbs at the end and got

him to roll over it to first. He was sitting on a heater, so that

was good.”

The Marlins had plenty to be pleased with themselves after

starter Henderson Alvarez, acquired in a big offseason trade with

Toronto, threw two scoreless innings. Of the 22 pitches he threw,

19 were strikes.

”He was great, very efficient,” first-year Marlins manager

Mike Redmond said. ”I thought he was aggressive in the strike

zone, got enough pitches in. … I liked it.”

The 22-year-old right-hander was 9-14 with a 4.85 ERA in 31

starts for Toronto last season. He was one of seven players Miami

acquired in a November trade that sent Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle

and Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays.

”Thank God I did well,” Alvarez said through a translator.

”All of my pitches fell in the strike zone.”

Zimmermann, who threw 26 of his 43 pitches for strikes, said

earlier this spring that he did not use his changeup much last

season, largely because he didn’t have a lot of confidence in it.

Not only is he looking to remedy that this spring, he is also

trying to figure out what counts will work best.

Part of that experimentation included a 2-1 changeup he threw to

Bryan Petersen in the third inning. Zimmermann missed and found

himself in a 3-1 hole.

”I don’t know if I would do that that during the season,”

Zimmermann said. ”If I get a little better feel for it I

definitely will, but I thought I would give it a try right

there.”

Chris Valaika opened the third inning with a double off

Zimmermann and scored on an RBI groundout by Chris Coughlin.

After a 66-minute rain delay, the Nationals took the lead on a

two-run homer by Anthony Rendon, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011

draft.

The score remained 2-1 until the ninth, when the Marlins got

consecutive singles by Christian Yelich and Kyle Jensen off

reliever Drew Storen. Jake Jeffries’ groundout scored Yelich with

the tying run.

It was Storen’s first outing since blowing a save opportunity in

Game 5 of last year’s NL division series against St. Louis. Rather

than relive that history, however, Storen was more concerned about

not being too amped up in his first spring outing, as he was last

season.

Storen missed the rest of the spring and wound up having surgery

to remove a bone fragment in his right elbow. He was out of action

until July.

The right-hander said he treated Sunday like a ”live batting

practice” instead of a ninth-inning save situation.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Storen had good velocity,

but got the ball up in the strike zone early in the inning.

”I felt good,” Storen said. ”I wasn’t really throwing

max-out. I was a couple of gears down, just trying to stay on top

of the ball more than anything else. Coming out healthy is the main

thing.”

NOTES: Nationals LF Bryce Harper had two hard-hit singles in his

only plate appearances. … RHP Chris Young, who signed a minor

league deal with the Nationals on Thursday, threw a bullpen. The

plan is to get him ready for March 9, when he will take the

rotation spot of Ross Detwiler, who will be leaving for the World

Baseball Classic. … Nationals RHP Christian Garcia said his

strained right wrist is feeling better, but Johnson said it would

likely be 10-14 days before he gets back on the mound. …

Washington Mayor Vincent C. Gray threw out the ceremonial first

pitch. Gray, attending his first Nationals spring training, also

watched the team play in Port St. Lucie against the Mets on

Saturday. … With Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis expected to miss the

next six weeks with a broken collarbone, it opens up the door for

players such as Kyle Skipworth to make an impression. Skipworth,

the No. 6 pick in the 2008 draft, will start Monday on the road

against Atlanta. OF Giancarlo Stanton is also expected to make that

trip. … 1B Casey Kotchman played in a simulated game, six days

after getting four stitches to close a cut on his finger. He could

be ready to return soon. … Redmond said OF Justin Ruggiano is

still bothered by a strained lower back.