3/11/2014 10:41 P.M. ET
Williams, Nats prepare to test replay system
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals will get their first taste of instant replay when they play the Astros at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon.
According to Nationals manager Matt Williams, bench coach Randy Knorr will be in communication with the video people watching the game from Space Coast Stadium. There will be a direct line into the Nats' dugout.
Each team is allowed one challenge during the first six innings. If the team is right on the challenge, they will get another one in the later innings. If they lose the challenge during the first six innings, they do not get another challenge.
According to Williams, the umpires can go to the video people without a challenge from either team.
"If it means something to our team, we are going to use it. If we are confident that we are right, we get another [chance]," Williams said. "In any situation where something like that comes up, I would imagine I would ask the umpire to take a look at it. If we have to get to the situation where we challenge, then we challenge. We have to make sure that we will be able to get it changed for our team."
On Feb. 22, Williams, general manager Mike Rizzo and members of the staff traveled to Kissimmee to gain a better understanding of the new instant-replay rules.
Teams including the Tigers, Astros and Braves were also at the meeting with MLB executive vice president Joe Torre and special consultant Tony La Russa. The meeting lasted 2 1/2 hours. Williams said he was pleased by what was said. The new rules went into effect this month. If a manager has a problem with a call, he is encouraged to go to the crew chief.
The Nationals will be involved with instant replay five more times this spring. After Wednesday, the next game featuring replay will be on Sunday, when the Nats play the Tigers.
"I'm looking forward to it because it is what it is. So it's part of our game right now and we have to do it. So I'm excited about it," Williams said. "If you have the schedule and you have games and it is what it is, you can't change them, so that's what we get excited about. It's part of it. I'm looking forward to the opportunity for us to potentially get a call changed our way and win a game."
Despite perfect outing, Zimm still looking to improve
VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was in midseason form Tuesday afternoon in a 3-2 victory over the Yankees at Space Coast Stadium. Zimmerman pitched four perfect innings and struck out four batters.
However, Zimmermann was not satisfied with his outing even though he was working fast and changing speeds. He said he didn't get ahead of the hitters like he wanted. In fact, he was surprised that Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner didn't swing at sliders he threw.
"I was behind in the count," Zimmermann said. "I wasn't able to throw first-pitch strikes too often. I have [to pitch ahead] during the year, too. I guess it's good to get some work in."
Manager Matt Williams said that Zimmermann is being considered as the Opening Day starter against the Mets on March 31 at Citi Field. Stephen Strasburg is another likely candidate. Williams most likely will not make the decision until after the off-day on March 18.
"[Zimmermann] won a bunch of games [last season] -- 19 of them, I think," Williams said.
Soriano learns from rough spring outing
VIERA, Fla. -- A day after Rafael Soriano was hit hard for five runs against the Astros on Monday night, Nationals manager Matt Williams reiterated that he wasn't concerned about his closer.
After the game, Soriano talked about his delivery with pitching coach Steve McCatty, and the closer acknowledged that he was having a problem with his release point.
"He didn't feel like it was exactly where he wanted it to be," Williams said. "He is a veteran guy. He is a pro. He knows what he is doing. It didn't work out last night. He will go again."
• Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus (chest inflammation) had his first bullpen session in more than three weeks. He threw 20 pitches -- all fastballs. It's uncertain when he will pitch in his first Grapefruit League game. Mattheus suffered the injury during the first week of Spring Training last month.
• The Nationals play split-squad games against the Astros and Braves on Wednesday. Triple-A Syracuse manager Billy Gardner Jr. will manage the team against Braves, while Williams will manage against Houston.
• Nationals right-hander Doug Fister played catch on Tuesday and didn't have any problems throwing the baseball. Fister missed a start last week because of inflammation in his right elbow. Fister will get Wednesday off and then throw on flat ground again before having a bullpen session and working in a game. Williams did not give a timetable as to when Fister will pitch in a game.
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.