The measure of spring training success isn't always in wins and losses. But it doesn't hurt to win, either.
Three games into their spring season, the Washington Nationals are showing signs of life -- and competition -- as they bested their nemesis Florida Marlins 8-4, before 2,190 on a sunny, 70 degree afternoon at Space Coast Stadium.
Today's heroes were Roger Bernadina and Yunesky Maya, with impressive performances as they both compete for a spot on the opening day roster.
Bernadina led off in center field and went 2-for-4 with a three run home run off Marlins starter Josh Johnson. The 26-year old was the presumptive starting left fielder over the off-season, the left-handed component of a projected platoon with Michael Morse, taking over for the departed Josh Willingham.
But as Nats GM Mike Rizzo kept acquiring outfielders through the winter, Bernie's stranglehold on not just a starting spot, but on the active roster came into question. The veterans Rizzo acquired all have some appeal, and most are without options and would be subject to waiver claims if the organization would want to stash them in the minors.
There are no such restrictions on Bernadina, who still has an option remaining.
But the Curacao native came into camp noticeably ripped, the product of twice-daily workouts and has gotten off to a very nice start through three games, and today's performance with go into the books as another plus sign on his resume.
Maya, the Cuban national that joined the Nats at the later stages of last season, had some adjustment issues once he did reach the big leagues. He was excellent in winter ball, winning his league's Pitcher of the Year title, and continued that performance level today, throwing two scoreless innings of two-hit ball, walking no one and striking out three on his assortment of breaking balls and cutting fastball. Maya threw 23 pitches, 16 for strikes.
He faces quite a bit of competition for a spot in the Nats opening day rotation, but regardless of how it shakes out, he will get plenty of starts for the Nationals this season.
John Lannan started and went three innings, giving up two earned on three hits and a walk, striking out Hanley Ramirez to end the first inning. He retired the first six batters he faced before running into trouble in his third inning of work. J.D. Martin gave up a run on three hits in his inning of work, while Atahualpa Severino, Matt Chico and Sean Burnett all threw one scoreless inning of relief.
Rick Ankiel homered in the cause, and Ryan Zimmerman drove in two with a two-out single.
Bryce Harper pinch-hit and played right field today. He went 0-for-1 with a walk and scored a run. His out was a 400-foot fly ball that died just short of the fence.
NATS NOTES: The Nationals announced before the game they have agreed to terms on contracts with 18 players and renewed the contracts of Tyler Clippard and Jordan Zimmermann. The moves are mere formalities with less-experienced players before they are arbitration or free agent eligible.
Reliever Henry Rodriguez, acquired in the Josh Willingham deal over the winter, finally arrived at training camp. He had trouble with his visa in his home country of Venezuela and should be up to speed in a week or two. Rodriguez, a flame-throwing right-hander, is out of options and would be subject to waivers should the Nats wish to send him tot he minors at the start of the season.
Corey Brown, the center fielder that came over from Oakland in the same deal as Rodriguez, sprained his left ankle in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the New York Mets. He will be out "at least a few days" according to team sources.
Cla Meredith, a veteran non-roster invitee, was scheduled for ligament replacement surgery today -- the dreaded Tommy John surgery -- and will miss the entire season. The 27-year old played for the Orioles last year and had an off-season arthroscope on his elbow for unrelated bone chips, but in his first bullpen session of the season experienced acute pain in his elbow and the ligament was found to have torn.
The Nats travel to Jupiter, FL tomorrow to face the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 pm. Zimmermann will get the start for Washington.