Craig Heist, wtop.com
VIERA, Fla. — Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run homer and Brett Carroll came through with a three-run triple in a six-run, sixth inning as the Nationals beat the Braves 6-3 in Grapefruit League play at Space Coast Stadium.
Nats starter Edwin Jackson turned in a solid effort going six innings, allowing just one run on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts. His lone mistake was a solo homer in the fifth to Jason Heyward that cleared the 35-foot batter's eye wall in centerfield.
Otherwise, Jackson, like Jordan Zimmermann the day before, used his second-to-last start before the beginning of the regular season to fine tune everything. He was well under his pitch limit of 85 and was able to get his necessary work in. He had not gone more than four innings in any of his other outings.
"I just tried to get the ball rolling as we go into the season," Jackson said. "I know spring has kind of been up and down, but I just tried to go out with a little more focus and a little more season mentality."
Jackson was coming off a three and two-thirds inning stint against the Orioles last Saturday in Sarasota where he got touched up for 10 runs (seven earned) and 11 hits, so to be able to have his longest outing of the spring and keep his pitch count down was exactly what he and the Nats wanted to see.
"Today I was finally able to get my work in past three or four innings," he said. "The main thing is when I come out of the game that I feel like I am still able to go back out and throw more. It's pretty much what we try to do, build arm strength and I did that today."
"Jackson was awfully good and he made it look easy," said Nats manager Davey Johnson. "He had a real low pitch count for six innings, much better command and everything. It was just nice."
Jackson is on schedule to have his final start of the spring against the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park in D.C. on April 3.
Roster trimmed to 34
Before the game, the Nationals reassigned infielder Andres Blanco to the Minor League camp and they optioned left-handed pitcher Atahualpa Severino and right-handed pitcher Ryan Perry to Triple A Syracuse.
Michaels and Blanco each have an out-clause in their Minor League contract and can try to latch on with another team if they don't accept their assignments to the minors.
Carroll and Nady
With the release of Michaels, it is looking more and more likely both Brett Carroll and Xavier Nady will make the club.
"It's no secret I like the way Carroll fits in," manager Davey Johnson said. "He's a little better fit for what we're trying to do. Nady is a good fit, too."
Nady signed a Minor League deal nearly two weeks ago and Johnson has gotten the chance to see what he brings to the table. After two strikeouts Wednesday against the Mets, Nady singled sharply up the middle. After striking out and hitting into a double play today, he lined a single to left and eventually scored on Carroll's three-run triple.
"For being here seven or eight days, he's looking good," Johnson said. "He's going to get a lot of playing time from now till the end."
Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was back in the lineup and went 1-for-2 with a walk. His base hit came in the fourth inning off left-hander Mike Minor, which was a very positive sign for LaRoche and Johnson.
"It felt good," LaRoche said. "To get hits off anybody feels good. Its better when you know you're timing is down. You can get hits once in a while but its blind luck, you're not feeling good, you're not confident but you know, slowing everything down and the swing feels fine."
"If he's going to hit left-handers like that, I might revisit the platoon thing," Johnson said laughing. "All options are open to me but I just wanted to make sure he knew he looked that good to me."
LaRoche now wants to test the foot the rest of the spring.
"I'd like to keep going until, and hopefully it doesn't happen but until I feel something," LaRoche said. "If I feel something then okay, it's good to take a day but this is a good time to test it. We've taken the ten days, we've had plenty of time to rest so let's push it a little bit and see how it's going to bounce back in back-to-back days."
Quote of the day
Edwin Jackson on giving up the homer to Jason Heyward that cleared the big batters-eye wall in center field: "It was a fastball. I think he just missed it."
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