Jason Marquis gets his groove back
On the day after his third start this spring, still digesting another ugly line score, Jason Marquis went out to play catch. In the middle of his tossing, he took the ball out of his glove just a bit differently than he had been. He positioned his arm exactly how he wanted, how he hadn't all spring. In two throws, he had a small epiphany.
"It was like, 'Wow, that felt right,' " Marquis said.
This week, after a spring spent searching, Marquis's delivery finally clicked how he hoped it would. The results showed Saturday in the Nationals' 4-0 loss to the Braves. By no means was Marquis perfect. But, after entering with a 14.40 ERA, he allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. With his first regular season start 11 days away, today's outing put Marquis's mind more at ease,
"I'm starting to feel like the old Jason Marquis again," Marquis said.
It started with that game of catch. He and pitching coach Steve McCatty also worked on holding his hip turn longer, which allows him to stay on line as he delivers the ball. But Marquis, a sinkerball pitcher, relies on feel. He recaptured that on the day after his last start.
"I threw great that day," Marquis said. "I threw two great bullpens. I took that into this start. I feel like if I take out there, I'm going to compete and we're going to win ballgames."
Marquis's first three starts, on the surface, had been alarming. He allowed 18 hits and eight walks in 10 innings, bloated totals unbefitting a No. 2 starter. Marquis felt comfortable, knowing he had been brought to Washington to occupy a start at the front of the rotation. But also felt relieved today.
"No doubt," Marquis said. "I've been on both of ends of the stick where I've had to make the team out of spring training and I really pressed and I've come in - I don't want to say fired up. I'm always fired up to take the ball. It's a different agenda. You're working on things. You're trying to find things. You're allowed that luxury. But at the same, you don't want to embarrass yourself when you're out on the mound. Whether you have the No. 1 spot locked up or the No. 5 spot locked up, you still want to go out there and compete and not embarrass yourself or your teammates. Hopefully that's what you do you when it comes close to the end of spring training."
March 27, 2010; 4:56 PM ET
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