Rick Ankiel hit his first home run of the Spring and Washington picked up their first victory of the Grapefruit League season Monday afternoon, defeating the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie, FL. The final score was 3-1.
Ankiel agreed late in the offseason to return to the Nationals on a minor league contract, though it has been widely speculated since that he’s a favorite to make the 25-man roster at the end of the month. The unexpected retirement of Mike Cameron certainly helped the development of that opinion, but no formal decision has been set in stone just yet. Technically speaking, Ankiel is fighting for a job this Spring.
Mets’ starter Dillon Gee had managed to get the first four Nationals’ batters of the game out when Ankiel came to the plate in the second inning. Ankiel connected on a 2-0 pitch, hitting a solo home run to left field and putting the Nationals up 1-0. He’d walk in his next at bat and stole second base. Brett Carroll ultimately came into the game in the 5th, replacing Ankiel.
The Mets had actually scored first in the game. Andres Torres led off with a walk, stole second base, and then scored on a Daniel Murphy single. Beyond that the team managed just a handful of hits – including two by Ruben Tejada, who could win the starting shortstop job – but was otherwise overwhelmed by Washington’s pitchers.
John Lannan made his first start of the Spring, throwing 3.0 innings in which he allowed the one run on 3 hits, with a walk and a strikeout. Craig Stammen followed him, pitching two scoreless innings with two strikeouts.
Other notes from Monday’s game …..
Bernadina continued a strong start to the Spring, going 1 for 2 with a walk. He was caught trying to steal second base, however.
Bryce Harper went 2 for 2 with a walk on the game, also maintaining a strong start. He was the only National with multiple hits on the game.
Editor’s Note: Normally our game recaps will publish in a more timely fashion once a game has been completed. This week, and likely for much of the remainder of Spring Training, we may not quite follow an ideal timeframe for these as there are quite simply a lot of things going on in life at the moment. However, each game is still important and I’ve always prescribed to the “better late, than never” approach. As always, feedback is welcomed.