- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

JUPITER, Fla. — If it’s too early to tell whether Tony Armas Jr.’s right shoulder is back, it’s not too early to tell that his moxie is.

Armas put together 32/3 mostly solid innings yesterday in the Washington Nationals’ 6-3 exhibition victory over the Florida Marlins. The right-hander gave up two runs on three hits and reached his pitch limit of 63 before he could finish the fourth inning.

Armas’ best work, though, came in the first, when he shook off a solo homer by Miguel Cabrera to strike out slugger Carlos Delgado on a gutsy 3-2 slider.

“He’s a great hitter, and I didn’t want to give up on him,” Armas said. “So I thought, why not give him a slider, my second-best pitch?”

Impressive as that was, Armas still isn’t all the way back from his 2003 shoulder surgery. He struggled to make it through the third inning, needing 31 pitches before retiring the side.

Armas came back out to start the fourth but reached his limit after two batters and reluctantly gave way to reliever Sun-Woo Kim.

“I wanted to finish up my four innings,” he said. “I think it looks better when it’s four than when it’s 32/3, you know? But I’m happy with my performance.”

Armas will continue to increase his workload over his next few starts. By then, the Nationals should have a better idea of his standing heading into the season.

For now, though, no one has any complaints.

“I thought he looked very good out there today,” manager Frank Robinson said. “He threw nice and easy and had good mechanics.”

Nats vs. O’s: Part II

The Nationals play the Baltimore Orioles today in Viera for the first time, but there won’t be nearly as much hoopla surrounding this game as last weekend when the neighboring rivals met in Fort Lauderdale.

That game, won by Washington 9-6 with a ninth-inning rally, featured a host of big-name players on both sides, a large media contingent and the presence of District Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Not this time around. There aren’t expected to be any dignitaries in the stands at Space Coast Stadium, and the Orioles are sending up a minor league staff of pitchers that includes starter Rick Bauer and relievers Hayden Penn, Adam Loewen, John Maine and Dave Borkowski.

The Nationals will counter with right-hander Esteban Loaiza, making his third start of the spring (second against major league competition).

Extra bases

Reliever Antonio Osuna is expected to make his spring training debut today. The veteran right-hander missed the first two weeks of camp while tending to his ill father in Mexico, then had his first game appearance pushed back several days (according to Osuna) because of inflammation in his elbow. The club later said the problem was with his shoulder. …

One day after impressing Nationals officials with a single, a walk, a stolen base and a run scored against the St. Louis Cardinals, rookie outfielder Tyrell Godwin went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts against the Marlins. Though Robinson said he would be willing to consider Godwin as his club’s leadoff hitter, the Rule5 acquisition has not shown enough to warrant serious consideration.

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