03/18/2013 6:53 PM ET
Gio back with Nats after Classic experience
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez returned to camp on Sunday, two days after Team USA lost to Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Gonzalez worked out with the team that same day and then pitched in a Minor League game Monday.
"During the World Baseball Classic, I was doing my routine, trying to get ready every five days," Gonzalez said. "I think being back with the team is exciting. It was an honor to play and represent USA. It was an experience I will never forget."
Gonzalez pitched once for team USA and pitched five shutout innings as the Americans defeated Puerto Rico, 7-1, at Marlins Park, which was 10 miles southeast of Hialeah, Fla., where Gonzalez grew up.
"It was loud," Gonzalez said. "Every inning, it was like the last out of the World Series. When I was done with that game, I was telling my mom, my energy was down, it was so draining. Every pitch was intense, every play was intense. One little false move could cost you the game. That was it. You had to focus."
Zimmermann has full arsenal against Tigers
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann had his best outing of the spring during a 5-1 loss to the Tigers at Space Coast Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Zimmermann pitched a team-high six innings, allowing one hit and striking out one batter. After Andy Dirks led off the game with a single, Zimmermann retired 18 straight batters and had 14 ground-ball outs. Zimmermann threw 67 pitches, 48 strikes, and then went to the bullpen and threw 20 more pitches.
"I had all four pitches working," Zimmermann said "It's one of those days when you have everything working. You can locate anything that you want. They don't come by often, I will say that. When you have everything working, it's a lot easier. I was keeping everything in the bottom of the zone. That's why I was able to get all the ground balls."
Zimmermann is developing a changeup, and the Tigers were getting weak ground balls on the pitch. He threw the pitch while the hitter was ahead in the count.
"If you throw a first-pitch fastball for a ball, you can comeback with that changeup, and if you can locate it, it's definitely a good weapon to have," Zimmermann said.
Werth 'feeling better' about left wrist
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth said his left wrist is getting stronger, but he doesn't know if his power is back. He said the biggest test will begin Wednesday, when the Nationals play a road game against the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla.
Werth, who is slated to hit second in the lineup, broke his left wrist last April while trying to make a sliding catch off the bat of Phillies infielder Placido Polanco at Nationals Park. After he returned to action in August, Werth hit just two home runs, not including the game-winning home run in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals.
"I need to test it really well. I need to play, I need to play every day, a couple of times in a row," Werth said. "I'm feeling better about it. It's coming along. I don't know for sure where it's at.
Entering Wednesday's action, Werth is 8-for-32 (.250) with a home run and three RBIs.
Walters, Davis among Nats sent to Minors
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals made their third round of cuts Monday, optioning pitchers Ryan Perry, Erik Davis and Yunesky Maya, infielder Chris Marrero, catcher Jhonatan Solano and outfielder Corey Brown to Triple-A Syracuse.
In addition, pitcher Ross Ohlendorf and infielder Zach Walters were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Of the players sent down, Walters and Davis stood out.
Walters was 11-for-37 (.297) with two home runs, four RBIs and a .459 on-base percentage this spring. Walters, the Nats' No. 14 prospect, made some adjustments, changing his stance and getting more upright at the plate, which he says allowed him to see pitches better.
"He reminded me a lot of where [Ian] Desmond was at a couple of years ago. I like his upside," manager Davey Johnson said. "He has tremendous ability and he is learning how he is. He knows what he needs to do. I think this spring has been good for him.
"I enjoyed having him here and expressing his talent. He has a better idea who he is and what he can accomplish. That's a good thing. He just needs to play and gain experience from that. He has a great future."
Walters said he was thankful to blend in with the big league team.
"It was hanging with the guys, seeing this kind of team and this winning atmosphere," Walters said.
Davis will be a reliever for Syracuse and is expected pitch in the late innings. In seven spring games, he allowed one run in eight innings and struck out eight batters.
"Prior to last year, he was a starter, I know he was a little amped up and I congratulated him on getting a save up here. He has big league stuff," Johnson said.
Davis came into camp knowing that he wasn't going to make the big league club, but he plans to improve his fastball command while in the Minor Leagues.
"I'm very happy with my first spring," Davis said. "I came in knowing this team was pretty loaded, so the chances of making this team were very slim. This is first time I was pitching in front of the big league staff. I wanted to put forth a good showing [so they] know that if something happens this year, they can call on me."
Nationals release veteran catcher Snyder
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals granted catcher Chris Snyder his unconditional release Monday. Soon thereafter, Snyder signed a Minor League deal with the Angels.
Snyder played in eight spring games for Washington and was 4-for-18 (.222) with a homer and two RBIs. He said he loved his brief time with the Nationals.
"This is a great camp. This is a great group of guys," Snyder said. "I wasn't worried about what's going to happen. I needed a place to go out and play. I'm thankful that [general manager Mike] Rizzo gave me that opportunity."
Snyder signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals in February and had an opt-out clause that could have been exercised next week.
Garcia expected to rest two more weeks
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Christian Garcia is expected to rest two more weeks because of a sore flexor tendon in his right forearm. Garcia, who will start the season on the disabled list, went to Baltimore to see a hand specialist this past weekend and the doctor told Garcia that the tendon is a lot better.
"The swelling is almost all out," said Garcia. "[The doctor] said the MRI looks a lot better. It was a huge improvement from the first one. So that's good."
Once he is healthy, Garcia, the Nats' No. 15 prospect, said he doesn't care if he is a starter or reliever.
"Whichever helps me get back to the big leagues, that's going to help me get there the fastest," Garcia said.
• Outfielder Micah Owings will have the day off on Monday and Tuesday because of a quad injury.
• Even though Rafael Soriano allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Tigers, Johnson thought he threw the ball well. Soriano threw 29 pitches during the game.
"I thought that was the best he has thrown all spring. I thought he made some quality pitches, and the Tigers hit some pretty good pitches," Johnson said.
• Reliever Drew Storen had a much better outing Monday against the Tigers. He walked the first batter he faced in the eighth inning and then he ended up striking out the side.
"He worked a little quicker. He came in overthrowing, and then he started pitching," Johnson said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.