Nationals have yet to get pitching in gear
Winless record in part because of unsteady mound work
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals are still winless this spring, losing to the Braves, 5-2, at Space Coast Stadium on Monday night. Washington's record dropped to 0-11. As usual this spring, the Nationals' pitching did not excel.
Right-hander Garrett Mock started and pitched four solid innings, giving up two runs on four hits. He struck out two batters and didn't walk anyone. Mock hasn't given up a free pass in nine innings this spring.
Mock got off to a slow start by giving up a solo homer to Martin Prado in the first inning. But after giving up an RBI single to Melky Cabrera in the same frame, Mock retired the next nine hitters he faced.
After he finished his outing, Mock said he wasn't impressed by what he did on the mound. He didn't like the fact that he was behind in the count on some of the hitters he faced. For example, Prado hit his home run on a 1-0 pitch.
"Today wasn't one of the days where anything happened -- good or bad," Mock said. "I was committed to attacking guys ahead or behind [in the count]. It cost me a couple of runs early. Challenging guys ended up working for me later. It was one of those games where I wasn't going to let a walk beat me."
Early in the day, manager Jim Riggleman had hinted that Mock has all but clinched a spot in the Nationals' rotation.
"It's very important to him to pitch to contact, and that is not easy for him," Riggleman said of Mock. "When your ball moves a lot, sometimes it could move out of the strike zone. But he has been able to keep his movement in the strike zone. Even when he doesn't throw a strike, it has the appearance of a strike, so hitters might swing at it. That's huge."
When told what Riggleman said about him likely being in the rotation, Mock was stoic and said no one in the organization informed him that he was on the Opening Day roster.
2010 Spring Training - Washington Nationals
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Spring Training Info
"Whatever decision that is going to be made, it is completely out of my control," Mock said. "They will let me know when the time is right. Until then, I'm not going think about that or feel good about a mediocre outing."
Drew Storen followed Mock and had his worst outing of the spring, pitching the fifth inning and allowing a two-run single to Prado. It didn't help that Storen had problems with his curveball. However, Storen was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Yunel Escobar to end the fifth.
"It's just one of those days. I didn't make the right pitches in the right counts. I kind of paid for it," Storen said. "I tried to make my curveball do too much to Prado. I just left it in the zone. It's a good 2-2 curveball, but on an 0-2 count, it needs to be way out of the zone."
Matt Capps gave up the fifth run of the game, allowing a home run to Joe Thurston in the top of the ninth inning. Capps, who is expected to be Washington's closer, has allowed six runs in five innings. He indicated that it's still early in the exhibition season and he would be more concerned about his performance if he was giving up runs late in Spring Training.
"All in all, I feel like each time out, I'm making progress and getting ready for the season," Capps said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.