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Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals for The Washington Times.

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Davey Johnson gets his motor running, Gio Gonzalez gets his first hit and a host of other notes from the Nationals 2-1 victory over St. Louis

The final two innings of the Nationals' 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday felt less like a spring training game, more like the real thing. From the use of closers for both teams to the tie game they had played to that point -- both using strong starting pitching performances -- there wasn't much about it manager Davey Johnson didn't like.

It's a three man race for final bullpen spot

Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen threw off a mound on Saturday, the next step in his return from a little elbow joint inflammation that stole most of his spring training and will likely land him on the disabled list to begin the 2012 season. Storen came through the bullpen session, his first work on a mound in close to three weeks, without issue. Good news for the right-hander. And while there's still no firm timetable for his return (Nationals manager Davey Johnson speculated recently that it could be mid-April), who the Nationals take in his spot on the roster is one of their lone remaining decisions before they head north

Ankiel's quad soreness lingering, Nationals preparing for possible DL stint to open year

The Nationals knew they'd have to start the season with some integral parts of their roster on the disabled list. Michael Morse, Drew Storen and Chien-Ming Wang are expected to begin the year there as they each work back from injuries that are not considered major but aren't ones to be rushed, either. Add another name to the probable list as Rick Ankiel is still struggling with some left quad tightness that has hampered him for much of the spring. If he can't get into a game in the next three days, which appears likely at this point, Ankiel may have to start the year on the disabled list, backdated to March 27.

Brett Carroll, Xavier Nady look primed for roster spots

In the morning, Washington Nationals outfielder Brett Carroll watched as the man who’d been his primary competition for a spot on the team’s bench all spring quietly packed up his belongings. In the afternoon, Carroll all but solidified his own place on the roster.

LaRoche comes through first game since March 15 without issue

The Nationals got one of their injured starters back on the field Thursday as Adam LaRoche was in the lineup for the first time since March 15. LaRoche, who was 1-for-2 with a walk, came through the game without any issues with the bone bruise on his left foot. He is expected to be in the Nationals' lineup on Friday and there should be nothing holding him back from starting each game until the regular season begins next Thursday.

Nationals sign left-hander Duke, release Michaels, option Perry

The Nationals cut three players Thursday morning, reassigning outfielder Jason Michaels and infielder Andres Blanco to minor league camp, and optioning left-hander Atahualpa Severino to Triple-A Syracuse, but they weren't finished for the day. They brought left-handed starter Zach Duke, released by the Astros earlier this week, in on a minor league deal and he'll head to Triple-A Syracuse as starting pitching depth. They also optioned out right-handed reliever Ryan Perry. Michaels was ultimately released before day's end.