- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2009

DAZZLING DEBUT FOR ZIMMERMANN

VIERA, Fla. - Jordan Zimmermann had never faced anything better than Class AA hitters before Thursday, so the Nationals were understandably interested to see how their top pitching prospect handled an assignment against a Detroit Tigers lineup that boasted All-Stars Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen.

It would have been difficult for Zimmermann to fare any better.

The 22-year-old right-hander mowed through the Tigers, retiring five of six batters he faced (the other reached on an error) and striking out three in two impressive innings of relief at Space Coast Stadium.

”I was feeling real good out there and wasn’t nervous at all,” he said. “I just got out there and did my thing, I guess.”

Zimmermann threw 16 of his 20 pitches for strikes and struck out Ordonez and Cabrera in succession on high fastballs.

”He was very aggressive,” manager Manny Acta said. “He grabbed the ball and worked fast. He didn’t look intimidated at all. … For a first outing in a big league camp, that was very good.”

Zimmermann, who has an outside shot at cracking the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation, is likely to get a starting nod next time out.

NATIONALS 2, TIGERS 1

Zimmermann wasn’t the only Nationals pitcher who dominated Detroit’s lineup. Five of the six arms Acta sent to the mound Thursday did not surrender a hit, leading to Washington’s first win of the Grapefruit League season.

Starter Collin Balester walked one but retired the other six batters he faced, needing only 23 pitches to make it through his requisite two innings. Rookie Terrell Young, a Nationals’ Rule 5 draftee, also tossed two scoreless innings.

Pete Orr scored both of Washington’s runs, the first on Wil Nieves’ third-inning double to deep right-center and the other on Chris Marrero’s fifth-inning single to right.

- Mark Zuckerman

TEMPERATURE CHECK

YOUNG ARMS (UP)

Balester, Zimmermann mow down Tigers’ lineup

NATIONALS IN THE DOMINICAN (DOWN)

Complete upheaval of team’s operation down there

”6-8” (UP)

How many times do you get to mark that one down in your scorebook?

BY THE NUMBERS

1 - Hit surrendered by John Lannan, Shairon Martis, Collin Balester and Jordan Zimmermann in eight combined innings so far.

FRIDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Rain, 60 degrees

Viera: Mostly sunny, 78 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Friday: vs. Astros in Viera, 1 p.m.

Saturday: vs. Cardinals in Jupiter, 1 p.m.

Sunday: vs. Orioles in Viera, 1 p.m.

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