The Washington Times - March 13, 2012, 10:36PM

VIERA, Fla. — Inside a mostly empty clubhouse Tuesday night, Jason Michaels sat at his locker as the television at one end of the clubhouse blared. Michaels watched with disgust while a replay of the Nationals’ 6-3 loss, as if on cue, was showing the veteran outfielder’s error on a fly ball in the first inning. 

The ball, a routine fly out off the bat of Clete Thomas that would have gotten Edwin Jackson through a breezy first inning, lofted into the sun and appeared to bounce off the heel of the glove of Michaels. 

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“Just flat out missed it,” Michaels said.

It wasn’t the sun or the wind or anything outside of his own fundamental play that caused him to drop the ball, he said. As for when the last time he could remember doing something like that, Michaels just shook his head. 

“It’s been a long time,” he said, and turned his eyes back to the television to watch as the next batter, Ryan Raburn, sent a home run over the left field wall as he gave chase. 

Told he was torturing himself, Michaels didn’t break stride: “Why not?” he said.

Michaels is 5-for-18 with two walks this spring as he tries to earn his way onto the Nationals’ bench by Opening Day. The veteran has spent parts of the last 11 seasons in the big leagues with four other teams and he could fill the Nationals’ need for a right-handed outfield bat but he’s in competition with Brett Carroll and, right now, it appears Carroll has an early edge. Still, for someone who’s been through as many springs as Michaels has, it was surprising to see him take an error so hard. 

Asked if he could brush it off as “it’s only spring training,” Michaels was adamant.

“No,” he said. “Not one bit. You’ve just got to forget about it and move on but I take a lot of pride in my outfield play… You’ve just got to move on.”

– Nationals manager Davey Johnson felt Ross Detwiler, who relieved Jackson in the fourth inning and threw 2 2/3 innings allowing one earned run off four hits and two walks with three strikeouts, struggled with his location in a similar manner to Jackson. Johnson felt the left-hander was throwing more than pitching in his relief appearance, especially early, as he came in mid-inning, something he did only a few times in 2011. 

“Det came in overthrowing,” Johnson said. “He didn’t pitch. He’s a better pitcher than that. He came in throwing. He was better the second inning but the first inning was just trying to hump.”

Detwiler told Johnson later that he didn’t feel quite loose enough when he was summoned into the game but Johnson said Detwiler told bullpen coach Jim Lett that he was ready “and then he had a whole ‘nother batter,” before he entered the game, Johnson said. 

Johnson lauded Detwiler earlier Tuesday, saying for the second spring in a row he’s been one of the Nationals’ best pitchers, if not the best, but Tuesday was the first time he’s faced any real adversity.

– Jayson Werth hit his second home run of the spring Tuesday night — another first-pitch swing for the Nationals’ right fielder who rarely, if ever, swung at the first pitch in years past. Johnson has been talking with Werth about being more aggressive with his approach and he’s gaining steam to his argument if every time Werth swings at the first pitch he hits a home run.

“I liked where he’s at from Day 1,” Johnson said. “He’s awful close.”

Werth has already doubled his home run total from last spring, where he hit just one, along with just three doubles. He then hit .215 with 10 homers and 16 doubles in the entire first half of the season.

– Nationals outfielder Michael Morse was originally scheduled to serve as the team’s designated hitter on Wednesday as they traveled to Orlando to face the Braves but late Tuesday night he’d been scratched from the lineup.Chad Tracy will serve as the DH in his place.

Johnson mentioned earlier Tuesday that Morse had been asking to go over to the minor league side to get a slew of at-bats and see a lot of live pitching. The minor league intra-squad games will end Thursday when they begin to face minor leaguers from other teams so Wednesday is his last opportunity to do so.