4/4/2014 8:27 P.M. ET
Enthusiastic Lerner praises Nats' start, moves
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Principal owner Mark Lerner is excited about the Nationals' start to the season and believes every game is important, including the ones in April.
"They are playing like it's September, not April, which is great," Lerner said.
Lerner loves the moves the Nationals made before the start of the 2014 season -- including the addition of Doug Fister, who has yet to play a game but is expected to go on a throwing program soon. Lerner also likes what the team has done with the bench and the bullpen.
"Getting Kevin Frandsen last week was huge," Lerner said. "I love Aaron Barrett. The competition between him and Blake Treinen [for a bullpen spot] was awesome. I'm sure Blake will probably be here. It was fun to get to see most of the young kids, not just the ones who were trying to make the Major League club, but the ones down in the Minors. We see the depth that we have in our system. It's great to see."
Asked if he was confident that the Nationals could win the National League East title like they did in 2012, Lerner said, "That's our goal. We have to stay healthy, that's the No. 1 thing. You must have a lot of luck to do it. So far, we are off to a great start. I love high expectations, and we have a lot to shoot for."
Nats making plans for Spring Training home
WASHINGTON -- Principal owner Mark Lerner said the Nationals will make Space Coast Stadium their Spring Training home for at least two years as they look for a new Spring Training facility. The team has talked to the people in Palm Beach County and Viera, Fla.
If the Nationals make Palm Beach County their home, it would take at least two years to build a Spring Training facility. Washington's lease at Space Coast Stadium expires at the end of 2017.
"It has been a long process. Sometime in the next few months, we'll probably be able to cut a deal with somebody and get that behind us," Lerner said.
Zimmermann overcomes fever to start home opener
WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was able to pitch the home opener against the Braves on Friday afternoon. His fever broke about 11 p.m. ET on Thursday, and he told manager Matt Williams that he felt 100 percent better than he felt earlier in the day.
Zimmermann was scheduled to pitch against the Mets on Thursday, but he was a late scratch because of the fever. Tanner Roark pitched instead and won his first game of the season, going six innings and allowing two runs in an 8-2 victory.
The Nationals re-evaluated Zimmermann before the start of Friday's game and declared him good to go.
Zimmermann pitched five strong innings in the Nats' 2-1 loss to the Braves, allowing one run on four hits and striking out nine. The run came courtesy of Evan Gattis' home run in the fifth inning.
"Health-wise, I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday," Zimmermann said. "Yesterday, it was rough. I got some fluids and some rest. I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I called [Williams], and I was good to go. I was able to go five, and he thought that was enough."
Lerner was asked if the Nationals have the flexibility to spend money this year, and Lerner said, "We're beyond topped out. Our payroll, as you know, has skyrocketed to about $140 million. I don't think we can go much farther with the revenue stream that we have."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.