- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

VIERA, Fla. — Washington manager Frank Robinson did his best to downplay the Nationals’ 22-12 loss to the Florida Marlins yesterday.

“You have to understand, those people out there [for the Nationals] are not going to be out there [in the regular season]. … But no matter who’s out there, you expect them to catch the ball and throw the ball and make decisions fundamentally,” he said.

“We didn’t do that. I’m not happy with the way we played out there, believe me. Anyone we put out there should be able to catch the ball, throw the ball and field the ball. But I’m not going to get excited. I’m not upset about the effort. I’m upset for the lack of execution. … There was no excuse for that. It wasn’t a very pretty picture out there.”

The Nationals committed four errors and could have been charged with more. Every fly ball into the stiff wind was a problem. They dropped balls, missed targets on throws, swung at every first pitch. As a result, the Marlins led 21-1 after five innings.

Utility man Damian Jackson started at second base for Jose Vidro and struggled defensively before Robinson moved him to center field. And starter Ramon Ortiz allowed seven runs on nine hits in just two innings. Ortiz is being considered for the No. 3 spot in the starting rotation.

“You take today, you live it, you forget about it and you move on to tomorrow,” infielder Marlon Anderson said.

Drese to the DL?

Robinson said right-hander Ryan Drese may open the season on the disabled list.

Drese, who is rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, has yet to pitch in a game this spring, and the Nationals have not set a timetable for when he will.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be ready to break [camp] with us or make the roster,” Robinson said. “Right now, he’s probably going to start the year on the disabled list.”

Drese, who was 3-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts for the Nationals last season, said he would be ready, however.

“I’m not counting on that [DL] at all,” he said. “I’m counting on being ready. To me, it’s not even in my mind.”

Robinson said he’s certain Drese will pitch in a spring training game before the club heads north. Drese is one of five starters battling for three available rotation spots.

“There’s a good possibility he will throw in a game or two before we leave here,” Robinson said.

Cepicky has clout

Marlins outfielder Matt Cepicky, selected in the seventh round of the 2001 draft by the Montreal Expos, hit a grand slam in the first inning of yesterday’s blowout win over the Nationals.

Cepicky toiled in the Nationals franchise’s minor league system for six years before becoming a free agent this offseason.

“It was fun to come in here and beat the team I used to be a part of,” Cepicky said. “It was nice. I had one goal in mind today, and it was to come and kick their butts. I don’t have very good feelings for that team over there. I wanted to bury them today. It was nice to do that. I’ve always been up and down, up and down. I’ve never been given a fair opportunity over there. Today felt really good.”

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the https://www.washingtontimes.com/sports>Sports Page

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