Craig Heist, wtop.com
VIERA, Fla. – Dan Haren allowed one run on two hits while striking out three in his first start of the spring as the Nationals fell to the Marlins 5-1 at Space Coast Stadium.
Haren ran into first inning trouble as leadoff hitter Christian Yelich tripled over the head of Denard Span in centerfield. Donovan Solano then hit a fly to left, allowing Yelich to score and gave the Marlins an early lead.
Haren set the Marlins down in order in the second inning and admitted to being nervous in his first start as a National.
“There are nerves every day,” Haren said. “Every time I have taken the mound in my career, there’s nerves. I was nervous waking up today. If you’re not nervous, you shouldn’t be doing this anymore. But you know, this is what gets us going, competing, and it starts today. But definitely there were some nerves.”
Haren was signed to a one-year, $13 million contract back in early December to replace Edwin Jackson in the rotation. Back problems limited him to 30 starts and a career-low 176 innings. That broke a streak of seven consecutive seasons of pitching at least 216 innings.
He finished with a record of 12-13 and an ERA of 4.33.
Haren was the last of the five starters to throw in a game. Until now, it has been bullpen sessions and live batting practice for him.
“It’s a different feeling having hitters in there trying to get hits off you,” he said. “I was a little out of sorts at the beginning and fell behind guys. It’s not my game to be 1-0 or 3-0 but as the game started to go, I throw more first pitch strikes and getting better looks.”
Haren knows if he is healthy, he will be a great addition to the rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler. He is also aware that his style brings a certain look the others don’t have.
“It’s a special group. Everyone does something a little bit different whether it’s hard throwers, a couple of lefties, different looks from guys, I mean, I know I am a totally different pitcher than the other righties in the rotation.”
“My fastball usually hovers around where Strasburg’s change-up is,” he said jokingly. “It’s got to be quite a different look for guys but when I start trying to throw hard, that’s when I get in trouble. I start elevating the ball and leaving balls down the middle.”
Craig Stammen threw two scoreless innings but allowed one hit and struck out three. Fernando Abad threw a perfect inning.
The Marlins blew the game open with a three-run seventh inning. Tanner Roark was charged with four runs in an inning-and-a-third, facing ten batters. Eric Davis and Drew Storen finished the game for the Nationals. Storen rebounded nicely after giving up a run in a save situation against the Marlins on Feb. 24.
First games for Werth and LaRoche
Keeping with manager Davey Johnson’s philosophy of taking it slow with his regulars, Wednesday was the first day right fielder Jayson Werth and first baseman Adam LaRoche have played this spring.
Werth and LaRoche went a combined 0-for-4. Werth struck out twice while LaRoche flew out to left and then fanned in his second time at bat.
“Werth was tracking,” Johnson said. “I kind of figured he was going to take it slow. I might have been rushing him a bit, getting him in there today but he enjoyed it and he’s going to be in there tomorrow.”
Bryce Harper will not play Thursday night against the Mets. Harper went 0-for-2 in the game to drop his average to .600 for the spring.
Night time, prime time
The Nationals welcome the New York Mets to Space Coast Stadium for a 6:05 p.m. start Thursday. Stephen Strasburg will make his second start of the spring and he will pitch against Shawn Marcum, a rematch of last Saturday’s game in Port St. Lucie.