One final exhibition awaits: A game against the New York Yankees on Friday afternoon at Nationals Park in which Jordan Zimmermann and Andy Pettitte will get in their own final tuneups of the spring.
“I’m ready to jump on that plane, head back to D.C. and get something to eat out there,” Gio Gonzalez said after he went four scoreless innings and allowed one hit with two walks and seven strikeouts. “Something nice and different from Viera, Fla.”
“We’re ready to get out of here,” Johnson added. “You’ll start seeing the real deal coming on. The warm-up’s over.”
Romero headed to Triple-A barring injury
Barring an injury that forces them to alter their plans, the Nationals will send left-hander J.C. Romero to Triple-A Syracuse after the team’s exhibition game on Friday, Johnson said.
With Romero in Syracuse, the last spot in the Nationals bullpen would then go to Henry Rodriguez — as has been the Nationals’ plan from the start of the spring.
The only caveat Johnson allowed was “barring an injury.” The possibility exists, until rosters have to be set prior to Opening Day, that the Nationals could make the final decision to start Rodriguez on the disabled list.
Rodriguez, who underwent surgery to remove a bone chip and shave down a bone spur in his right elbow last August, was still experiencing elbow soreness early in the spring. That set his schedule back and, Johnson has indicated, may be what has contributed to the reliever’s wildness at this late stage of the spring.
“I like the progress,” Johnson said Thursday morning. “I’ve been pretty clear that power arms take longer, especially in Henry’s case. He missed the last half of the year and didn’t have winter ball. A lot of times, that’s a psychological thing to overcome. … It takes them a little longer to get a good feel. The primary concern is stretching their arm out, and we’re going through that with Henry.”