Gio struggles early but settles in as Nats fall to Marlins

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez warms up between innings during a spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Craig Heist, wtop.com

JUPITER, Fla. – Ricky Nolasco allowed one run on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out four as the Marlins beat the Nationals 3-1 at Roger Dean Stadium.

Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez gave up all three Miami runs in the first inning.

With two on and one out, Gonzalez gave up a sharp RBI single to Gaby Sanchez which gave the Marlins the lead.

With runners at first and second and two outs, former National Austin Kearns doubled to left scoring both Hanley Ramirez and Sanchez.

It was a 28 pitch first inning for Gonzalez and it took third baseman Mark DeRosa and pitching Coach Steve McCatty to get the left-hander to slow down and quit flying open with his delivery.

“I felt it for sure,” Gonzalez said. “But if I can’t see what I’m doing wrong, I will be more than happy to listen to one of my position players or our coaches to say, ‘Hey, you’re moving a little too fast, maybe slow it down and stay back.'”

“The first couple of innings, I thought Gio was overthrowing,” said manager Davey Johnson. “I think he felt crisper but he was overthrowing a little bit. But then after the first couple of innings he stated pitching and he looked real great to me.”

Gonzalez finished his afternoon with 71 pitches, 53 for strikes. He gave up the three runs on seven hits over his five innings while walking one and striking out six. Gonzalez will have one more Grapefruit League start, also in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals; a team he will be facing for the third time.

In fact, Gonzalez will pitch his fourth game this spring at Roger Dean Stadium. He has only gone to the mound in Viera one time, but he says he is close to where he needs to be to start the season.

“I feel like I’m getting there,” Gonzalez said. “I feel like I am at 85 or 90 percent there. You know, I got one more start out here and we’ll see where it goes. Hopefully, I can turn it around and when the season starts I will be at 100 percent.”

Lidge continues to shine

With the uncertainty of the status of closer Drew Storen for the start of the season, Brad Lidge is making a case to manager Davey Johnson to at least start the season in that role for the ballclub.

Lidge was impressive again Tuesday with a perfect ninth inning, getting a strikeout and two fly outs. The right-hander has given up one earned run over seven innings so far this spring. This year has been different for him from a health standpoint.

“I feel real good right now for sure,” Lidge said. “I think having a full, healthy spring for me has really been a blessing. The last couple of years have been tough for me in spring training. I haven’t been able to stay healthy and obviously, it’s affected when I’ve been able to join the team in the season.”

“This year over the winter I threw a lot and I got into spring training and did everything I normally do, which for me is a very important thing. I’m not fighting anything. My body feels good and my arm feels good so I can just go out there and throw. Knock on wood, there will be good results if I don’t have to worry about anything bothering me,” he said.

After the Nats signed Lidge, he came to spring training not so sure what his role would be. He knew Storen would be the closer and he would be before or after Tyler Clippard, depending on the situation, in getting to Storen.

“First and foremost we all want Drew to get back as soon as possible,” said Lidge. “He’s the closer and hopefully it won’t take him that long. Obviously, I would be happy to have that role. I still feel in my mind, when I’m healthy that’s something I love to do and I’m very happy to do it.”

“I definitely would love an opportunity to do that, but that being said, our bullpen, this year and even when he gets back, I have been super impressed with everyone in the pen. I didn’t realize we had the talent, and I said it before but I really wasn’t paying attention to exactly what was going on,” he said jokingly.

“Again, whatever he wants to do with me is great and I would love the chance to get in there and close some games out and do whatever needs to be done until Drew gets back,” Lidge said.

The walking wounded

It is getting somewhat better for the Nationals. First baseman Adam LaRoche played in a minor league game on Tuesday and LaRoche and the Nationals are hoping he can return to play in a Major League game Thursday at home against the Braves.

LaRoche did some running yesterday and made turns testing the sore left ankle.

After running the stadium stairs yesterday and running sprints in the outfield, Michael Morse still hasn’t been able do any baseball activities but the hope is that will change Wednesday when he is scheduled to begin a throwing program. Morse seems likely to start the year on the DL.

Drew Storen is scheduled to play catch for the first time in a week Wednesday. Since then, he has been to Washington to get an MRI which showed inflammation but no structural damage to his elbow. It appears Storen will not be with the team when the season opens but the Nats have not ruled that out.

Meet the Mets

The Nationals travel to Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday. Jordan Zimmermann will face Jonathan Niese.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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