3/9/2014 6:13 P.M. ET
Desmond swipes team-best fourth base of spring
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Matt Williams said he wants the team to be more aggressive on the bases this season and shortstop Ian Desmond took advantage of the situation in the third inning against the Cardinals.
After he singled to right field, Desmond stole his fourth base of the spring, which leads the team. He would later score on a Wilson Ramos single. Last season, Desmond stole 21 bases. Would Williams like Desmond to steal more bases in 2014?
"I'm expecting him to feel the game and to be aggressive," Williams said. "There are times where you just can't go. But there are times when you can. So he is working on that this spring. It doesn't mean he is going to steal more. It just means he is looking for opportunities and that's good."
Strasburg makes adjustments in solid outing
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was solid in an 11-1 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. He pitched three innings and allowed one run on two hits.
Strasburg was able to throw his slider a lot more than he did in his first start of the spring. When he was in the bullpen before the game, the slider felt great. But he had to make adjustments after the game started.
"In the 'pen, it felt really good. [In the game], I was like almost over throwing it. It had a little too much movement," Strasburg said. "But I took a step back and I started to get some better results with it."
Before the exhibition season started, Strasburg said he wanted to do the little things to help the team win ballgames. He did just that in the third inning. With two outs, Kolten Wong hit a grounder past first baseman Brock Peterson, but second baseman Danny Espinosa grabbed the ball and threw to Strasburg for the final out of the inning.
"Those are the things we have to do to win, to be competitive to win every day," manager Matt Williams said. "I don't want to give [the opponents] extra outs. That's part of the process."
Skole reassigned in Nats' first round of cuts
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals made their first round of cuts Sunday morning, reassigning infielder Matt Skole, catcher Jeff Howell and pitchers Gabriel Alfaro and Tyler Robertson to Minor League camp.
Skole was the biggest name to be sent down. After missing a year because of Tommy John surgery, Skole didn't lose a step at the plate, going 5-for-14 with a home run and five RBIs. Manager Matt Williams said Skole was sent down because he needed consistent at-bats and he wasn't going to get them with the big club. There is a strong possibility that Skole is the team's first baseman of the future, maybe as early as 2015.
"I know Matty from the [Arizona] Fall League," Williams said. "He has the ability to play both corners of the infield. He certainly has power. With what happened to him last year, he needed consistent at-bats. That's why we made the move today -- get him multiple at-bats in a game and let him get his timing back. He is going to play third and first. He will be on his way."
With so many pitchers in camp, there weren't enough innings for Alfaro and Robertson. Both players appeared in two games this spring.
"It's hard to find them innings at this point because guys are getting deeper into games," Williams said. "We want to them to continue to build their arm strength. If they are getting one inning every four days, it's not fair to them."
Howell wasn't given much of a chance, either. It didn't help that the Nationals had eight catchers in camp. They are going into the season with Wilson Ramos and Jose Lobaton as the Opening Day catchers.
Williams impressed with LaRoche's spring
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is off to a good start, going 5-for-15 with two home runs and four RBIs entering Sunday's action.
Manager Matt Williams is most impressed by how LaRoche is handling left-handed pitchers. LaRoche is taking pitches from the lefties up the middle.
"He has been pretty consistent," Williams said. "I like when he hits the ball up the middle, especially against the left-hander. He has done that a couple of times. He has driven some balls to center field as well. I think he is right on track."
Generally, it takes LaRoche a lot of at-bats to get going, and Williams still plans to have LaRoche get at-bats in Minor League camp.
• Ryan Zimmerman did not play in Sunday's game against the Cardinals, but he was seen working out at first base. Williams didn't give a timetable as to when Zimmerman would play first in a game.
• Catcher Brian Jeroloman, who is a non-roster invitee, has yet to participate in baseball drills or Spring Training games. According to Williams, Jeroloman is still recovering from post concussion syndrome.
"Bringing him here is not something we want to do, given the fact that he is dealing with [post concussion syndrome]," Williams said. "He has been cleared to do physical activities. He will take those steps and we will get him back on the field, when it's appropriate."
• Nationals infielder Jamey Carroll is 2-for13 with an RBI, but he leads the Nationals with five walks. He also has a .389 on-base percentage.
• Wilson Ramos leads the Nationals with nine RBIs this spring.
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.