- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

VIERA, Fla. - Max Scherzer will take fun over flawless in his first start for the Washington Nationals.

Scherzer gave up a home run to John Mayberry Jr. in his two-inning debut for Washington, and Kila Ka’aihue hit a two-run shot in the seventh to lead the Nationals to a 5-4 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday.

Starting the Nationals’ spring opener after signing a seven-year, $210 million contract this winter, Scherzer needed just eight pitches in a perfect first. He gave up two hits in the second.

The right-hander called the outing “fun” and said he thought overall that he had a productive start in relation to what he wants to work on this spring.

“Really just good command of everything - that’s what I thought I did well today, at least pitching (inside),” Scherzer said. “For the most part I thought I was able to get the ball to the side of the plate I wanted to. For me I was happy with how I went out there, and how I felt.”

Tanner Roark replaced Scherzer in the third, but had limited success. He got two of the first three batters he faced out before giving up three earned runs, including a two-run home run by Eric Campbell.

STARTING TIME

Mets: The 41-year-old Bartolo Colon retired the Nationals 1-2-3 in each of his two innings of work, which included a pair of strikeouts. He said through a translator that he didn’t get to throw every pitch he wanted to, but that he felt he had control of the pitches he used.

Nationals: After his strong first inning Scherzer struck out the first batter in the second, before giving up the homer to Mayberry, Jr. For the day he threw 20 of his 29 pitches for strikes, yielding two hits, and striking out two.

TRAINING ROOM

Mets: Manager Terry Collins said he expects it may be a challenge to get staff ace Matt Harvey, who had Tommy John surgery in October, to take it easy this spring.

“We all know he’s gonna have to ratchet it down a little bit before he walks out there on that mound,” Collins said. “Every time he’s on the field it means something. … Everything he does, he maxes it out.”

Collins said as much as the coaching staff reminds him to go slowly, “He’s gonna show everybody that he’s Matt Harvey.”

Nationals: Washington manager Matt Williams said that outfielder Jayson Werth was experiencing normal soreness a day after swinging a bat for the first time. Werth is working his way back from arthroscopic surgery on Jan. 9 to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder.

NEW POSITIONS

The Nationals are using a new alignment defensively with four starters transitioning to new primary positions in 2015. Ryan Zimmerman moved from third base to first, Yunel Escobar from shortstop to second, Werth will eventually go from right to left field, and Bryce Harper is going from left to right field. It’s why Williams said Thursday’s lineup - which mirrored a possible opening-day alignment - will be utilized a lot in the preseason.

“Yeah, as much as possible,” Williams said. “It’s important for Desi to work with Yunel, (for) Yunel to work with Zim, and Zim to get accustomed to all the guys in the infield. So from Day 1 we want to do that as much as possible.”

 

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