Nats Dan Haren ‘lit up’ by Cardinals

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Dan Haren sits in the dugout after giving up four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Craig Heist,

JUPITER, Fla. – Dan Haren was roughed up for five runs, six hits and two home runs over five innings as the Cardinals beat the Nationals 5-1 at Roger Dean Stadium.

Haren gave up a four-run first as John Jay led off the inning with a solo homer to right. After consecutive singles by Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams blasted a three-run shot to right and Haren quickly was in a 4-0 hole.

Asked if this is something that typically happens in the spring, Haren joked, “What, me getting lit?”

“It was one of those days where I felt like I was throwing a weighted ball out there,” Haren said. “It was just bad, all the way around. Obviously, as I went along, I was a little bit better but my first couple of starts were far and away better than this.”

His velocity was down a bit Friday, even for him.

While manager Davey Johnson didn’t seem very concerned about it he said after the game, “I didn’t have to see the radar gun to see how he was throwing. Heck, I was ready to go hit.”

Haren had given up a total of four earned runs on nine hits in nine innings coming into this start but Friday’s outing left his spring ERA at 5.79.

“It’s just a bump in the road,” said Haren. “I’ve throw the ball well. My velocity has been fine all spring. It’s just one of those days where I didn’t have anything out there and I just tried to battle through it.”

Haren didn’t necessarily want to call it a dead arm but jokingly said he might bribe pitching coach Steve McCatty to not have to make his next start, also scheduled for here in Jupiter next Wednesday against the Marlins.

“I’m never going to make excuse like that.” He said. “You know, I had slop out there today and it was embarrassing. I tried to get here a little bit earlier today and tried to get ready for the game but that situation is definitely not ideal for what I’ve dealt with in the past.

“I think everyone usually has one hiccup every spring. People probably just get a little more panicked when I do because of last year. It’s all the more reason to look forward to the next start. I’ll be fine. I’ll be out there.”

Zimmerman ready to go?

Johnson hinted at the possibility that Ryan Zimmerman will be at third base on Saturday night against the Astros at Space Coast Stadium.

“I talked to Zim yesterday or actually he came to me and he said, ‘Yesterday, I really had a great throwing day and depending on how I feel today, I may want to push up playing to Saturday. I may want to start Saturday,” Johnson said. “I said well, you let me know and we’ll go from there.”

Zimmerman has been throwing at home during BP and Johnson has no reservations about his throwing from what he has seen.

“He looks great and I’m not worried about him at all,” he said. “There is still plenty of time and he’s right on schedule. His timing is great and that’s what I was most concerned about. He’s got 22 at bats and he needs 28 more, he likes 50.”

Zimmerman was originally scheduled to play his first game in the field on Monday against the Tigers in Viera. He has been used only as DH in game un until now. He is hitting .500 with a homer and four RBI.

Since Zimmerman is likely to play Saturday, Johnson also said it’s quite possible Stephen Strasburg, who is scheduled to pitch could also be in the lineup.

“We’re at the point now where we’re starting to look like a National League club and I let the pitchers hit,” Johnson said. “The main thing was to get Zim enough AB’s”

Namath on hand

Former New York Jets and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath was on hand to throw out the first pitch before the game and he shared his thoughts on the first year signal caller Robert Griffin III of the Redskins.

“It’s his athleticism and his competiveness, his toughness and leadership. You know, all of those things impress me,” Namath said.

He also saw RG3 go through an injury-riddled last part of the season which led to knee surgery right after the Redskins lost to the Seahawks in the playoffs and he had a bit of advice about keeping the Redskins franchise quarterback healthy and around for a long time.

“You can be a great runner and a great passer but if you don’t have the help; I’ve often said Archie Manning was one of the best quarterbacks I ever saw but he was with the New Orleans Aints and they couldn’t do anything.

“We quarterbacks, we are dependent on the rest of our team, too. You start pressing you need to catch up, that kind of stuff, but to say how good he can be, that remains to be seen. He could be great. He could be great,” Namath said.

Namath played a huge part in one of the worst years of my life as a child, 1969. In January, his Jets beat the Colts in what is still the greatest upset in NFL history. Later in May, the Knicks beat the Bullets in the playoffs and then in September the Miracle Mets beat the Orioles in five games in the World Series.

“You know, as an athlete in New York at that time it was a joy because everywhere you went, you know the sports fans in New York are special, too and there were a lot of smiles. It was big,” he said.

Not with me, it wasn’t!

More Stros

The Astros and the Nats do battle at Space Coast Stadium in Viera Saturday night with Stephen Strasburg making the start for Washington and he will be opposed by Lucas Harrell.

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