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Spring Training blog: Nats blast Astros and old friend Bo

Tuesday - 3/5/2013, 6:30pm  ET

AP: a297ec86-80f4-42ba-b925-acaa32cc6c49

Craig Heist, wtop.com

VIERA, Fla. Dan Haren gave up one run on two hits and struck out two over three innings. Danny Espinosa and Chad Tracy each drove in two runs as the Nationals beat the Astros 7-1 to improve to 5-3-2 in the Grapefruit League.

Haren set down the first six hitters he faced and then ran into trouble in the third inning. With runners at first and second, Jose Altuve singled to left to drive in the Astros lone run of the game.

The right-hander threw 50 pitches over his three innings, 34 for strikes and for a guy returning from back issues, getting out of the start healthy in each of his two starts so far is very important as he prepares for the season.

"I just want to go out there and feel good for 30, whatever times and help the team," Haren said.

"I want to be out there regardless of how I feel. Am I going to feel great, am I going to feel good, not good? I'll be out there today," Haren said.

So far after two starts the results have been what he wants.

"The big thing is how I bounce back," he said.

"Not necessarily how I feel out there but the next day, and last time I felt really good the next day. I have been putting in a lot more work with trainers and stuff. When I was young, I didn't even go in the trainer's room but now I am in there twice a day," Haren said.

Bats come to life

The Nats put the game away with a five run sixth inning. Danny Espinosa and Chad Tracy had two RBIs on the day while Jayson Werth and Corey Brown had RBI singles.

Espinosa is hitting .365 this spring and he has made a concerted effort to try and cut down on his swing this year and not be so long. So far, the results appear to be indicating he is having success.

"I've been working on it to try and keep it short," Espinosa said.

"I want to get a good bat path down to the ball and cutting that upper-cut swing out that I would fall in to. I'm just trying to focus on not getting beat and getting the ball too deep and not rushing," he said.

Soriano's first appearance

Nats closer Rafael Soriano made his first appearance of the spring. It was the first of what skipper Davey Johnson will be about eight total. Soriano went an inning, allowing one hit while striking out one.

Welcome back Bo

When Bo Porter left the Nationals to take the managerial job with the Houston Astros, he knew what he would be up against. The team was coming off a 107 loss season and they were moving to the American League West, a division that includes the Rangers, Mariners, Athletics and Angels.

Porter, who spent the last two seasons as the Nats third base coach, was back at Space Coast Stadium with his young Astros, a team which is rebuilding. But that word might as well be a "four letter" word to Porter.

"What was that word you just mentioned," Porter asked a reporter. "I didn't even know that word was in the dictionary. I haven't used that word, not one time since September 27th last year and I'm not planning on using it."

Porter prepared himself in hopes of getting his first major league managerial job and he has it in his home state of Texas. Porter has lived in Houston and once played for the Rangers. In spring training, he has his Astros at 5-5 in the Grapefruit League after today's loss.

"It's been great, the energy has been great, the attention to detail has been great," he said.

"We've played some hard fought ballgames, we've fallen behind, and we've come back and battled and battled so you see the intensity and you see the attention to detail and it's good to see from the staff's standpoint," Porter said.

Porter still keeps in touch with many of the Nationals players through a book club, a club that started with about 20 people and now has almost 700 involved.

"Quite a few of those guys are on the book club email and we actually communicate every morning via the book club. It's a long list. From Harper to Desmond, Tyler Moore, Lombardozzi, Clippard, Storen and LaRoche. It's about 23 guys," Porter says.

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