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.