JUPITER, Fla. — Miami Marlins right-hander Dan Haren felt a bit of nostalgia during Tuesday afternoon’s 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.
Catching Haren was Jeff Mathis, his backstop with the Los Angeles Angels for a season and half (2010-11). Over 32 games, they combined for a 2.35 ERA. Washington righty Max Scherzer, Haren’s teammate with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2008-09, opposed him.
"I threw to him back when I was with the Angels, and we had a lot of success together," Haren said of Mathis. "He’s really familiar with the way I throw, the way I attack hitters. It was nice to get him back there too."
The pair had kept in touch since those Anaheim days. When the Marlins traded for Haren during winter meetings, both he and Mathis looked forward to their reunion.
"It’s cool," Mathis said. "We had some good times over there. Obviously he’s a great pitcher, been a good pitcher for a long time. Good guy to work with, command-wise. Throws a lot of pitches, is able to throw a lot of pitches. It was fun back there with his arsenal."
The 34-year-old right-hander used all of his pitches and threw enough strikes to remain effective enough for a third inning Tuesday. He got ahead of nine of the 10 batters he faced. Mathis noted the ball was "coming out good" and that Haren had command to both sides of the plate, a great sign this early in the spring.
"I felt a little better today," Haren said. "Things are progressing. I was a little more crisp today, the ball was coming out a little bit better. I’ve still got a ways to go. Obviously the results were good, so that’s always a positive. I’m feeling good, and I’m definitely moving in the right direction."
In his Marlins debut last Thursday in the Grapefruit League opener, Haren allowed two runs on three hits over two frames against the St. Louis Cardinals. But his defense didn’t help much with a missed ball in the sun and a liner off a glove.
Washington didn’t roll out its regulars like St. Louis did. Still, Haren tried to walk the fine line of pitching for success and not showing too much of what he’ll do in season against the National League East rival.
"Next time out, I don’t know how much I’m going to keep pushing it," Haren said. "It’s harder to get guys out the second or third time through the lineup. It’s coming. I just want to feel good. As long as I feel good I’m confident I can get guys out. My stuff still plays, it’s not as overpowering as it once was, but I’m spotting up, getting ahead of guys and make them hit it."