Heist: Nats beat Cardinals and make cuts

FILE - Washington Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Craig Heist, wtop.com

VIERA, Fla. – Ross Detwiler made his last start before heading off to the World Baseball Classic, Chad Tracy hit a two-run homer and Ryan Zimmerman went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in his first appearance of the spring as the Nationals beat the Cardinals 7-6.

Detwiler gave up one run on four hits and struck out four over two innings of work. He had a high pitch count throwing 51 during his stint, 31 for strikes on a cold, windy day.

“Obviously, the load falls on [Craig] Stammen’s shoulders there,” Detwiler said. “He came out and did well but it was a factor of the wind. I was missing up today but we got through it. This is just, make sure you are strong and make sure you are ready to go.”

Detwiler was working mainly on his off-speed pitches as he has said along he wants to work more on his progression of off-speed pitches.

I think I threw more off-speed pitches today in two innings than I did all year last year,” Detwiler said with a smile. “Suzuki said he was actually surprised it was actually pretty decent because I didn’t throw it at all last year.”

Despite the pitch count the results of his pitches were what mattered most to him before he heads off the WBC.

“Off-speed was looking good,” he said. “I threw one change-up that was really good and it was called a ball. I think it was a little low, but that’s where you want to miss.”

“I thought Det threw the ball really good. It was very tough out there, windy, getting a feel for the ball,” manager Davey Johnson said. “We were going to have him throw over 50 pitches and he managed to do that in two innings.”

Zimmerman contributes

Ryan Zimmerman made his first appearance of the spring. He hit clean-up as the designated hitter and went 1-for-3 with a bloop RBI single to right in the third inning off Jamie Garcia.

Zimmerman will be used as a DH until about the 18th of the month when he will start to see action in the field as he continues to recover from his surgically repaired shoulder.

Ramos also debuts

Nats catcher Wilson Ramos made his first plate appearances of the spring going 1-for-2 with a double in the ninth which started the Nats game winning rally. Ramos was not going to be allowed to participate in a game until he could convince doctors he was okay to run the bases on his surgically repaired right knee and more importantly, slide into a base.

“It feels good,” Ramos said of his knee. “I couple of weeks ago I was a little bit scared about my knee to slide but after I did, I felt my knee was strong and there was no pain or sore. That’s the reason I said to everyone, I’m ready to go.”

Johnson was also impressed, but had a feeling for some time that Ramos was ready to go but had to wait for him to be cleared by the medical staff.

“I was worried when he chopped that ball to third and was running real hard to first I was like, ‘Wil don’t run so hard,'” he said jokingly. “Then he looked good. There was a gale blowing in and he turned that around and he looked good running the bases. Thank goodness he hit it so far he didn’t have to slide.”

Walters comes through

Infielder Zach Walters came through with the RBI single which plated Sandy Leon with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 9th. Walters has four hits in 17 at bats and to get a walk off is just as big a thrill in a spring game as it is during the season.

“Any win feels special, especially a walk-off,” Walters said. “That’s what every kid things about when he’s six years old in his back yard. You know, bottom of the ninth, two outs and for me to do it in spring training is no different than if I would do it in the season.”

Nats send four pitchers to minor league camp

The Nationals reassigned left-handed pitchers Bill Bray, Brandon Mann and Will Ohman and right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark to minor league camp. That puts the Nats roster at 50.

“Once your pitchers basically go through a couple of time through the rotation you just start getting limited innings,” Johnson said. “In all their cases, and in Bray’s case, we felt like he could work out some of the mechanical problems under a less stressful situation and more regular work.”

Off day

It is for both the Nats and me on Monday. See ya Tuesday.

Follow @CraigWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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