Nationals finish spring training with a loss
Starting Monday, the games count. The Washington Nationals' 6-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park was the team's final exhibition game before Monday's season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, even though the game was played in Washington and not Viera, Fla.
The team finalized its 25-man roster, and now needs to make room on its 40-man roster for two players before Sunday afternoon's deadline.
"I'm very happy with the spring in terms of the things we got accomplished," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "I think the players worked very hard and were very responsive to the new coaches who were brought in. ...We really did get a lot accomplished. We didn't get a lot done in the win column, but as the spring progressed, we picked it up there a little bit. You always feel like you could add a little something here or there, but overall, I'm very pleased with the spring."
A few nuggets from Saturday's loss...
- Craig Stammen allowed three hits in five innings, although two of those hits were home runs. Riggleman thought Stammen started too strong, and left two pitches up for the home runs. Stammen was pitching on a extra day, which contributed to throwing too hard early in the game before he settled down and pitched effectively.
"That's kind of an excuse that I'm not going to buy into," Stammen said when asked about the extra day. "Yeah, it probably messed up a little bit because I was a little stronger than what I'm normally accustomed to feeling, and that's different for a sinkerballer. But I'm not going to equate those two home runs to an extra day of rest."
Overall, Stammen felt pleased with his spring. He said he needs to hone his fastball location, but he felt comfortable with his other pitchers and has a spot in an opening day starting rotation for the first time in his career.
- Cristian Guzman spent time in right field and finally had a ball hit in his direction. Guzman made a nice catch on a tough fly.
"It was not really that easy a play and he kind of made it look easy," Riggleman said. "I wanted to get him out there once the lights were on, so we barely were able to do it. I'm getting more comfortable. I think in fairness to the pitchers, you hate to put somebody out there who hasn't had much experience there. He's a really good athlete and just an all-around good baseball player. But I think unless we got pushed into it early, I probably would put him out there in a little more of a widespread game like tonight, get a couple more chances.But the way he swings the bat, it's very tempting to stick him in there, period and run with it and he may develop into that."
- The Nationals faced Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield for four innings. It's unlikely the Nationals will face a knuckleballer this season, which made Saturday an unhelpful preparation for the regular season.
Riggleman knew a big crowd would come to Nationals Park (attendance was 37,312) and thought the fans deserved to see the Nationals' top players. He also presented the players with the option of waiting until Daisuke Matsuzaka entered the game, but the Nationals' hitters wanted to start.
April 3, 2010; 8:01 PM ET
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