Nats' Olsen works 2 innings in first spring start

VIERA, Fla. (AP) — The line score, while not pretty, wasn't as important to Washington Nationals left-hander Scott Olsen as how his surgically repaired shoulder felt in its first test.

Olsen, making his first start since season-ending surgery last July, threw two innings in the Nationals' 11-2 loss against a Florida Marlins split squad Monday.

The left-hander, penciled into a rotation spot provided he is healthy, allowed seven hits and three runs. Olsen gave up a three-run home run to Jorge Cantu in the first inning after Bryan Peterson's bloop single over shortstop and Mike Stanton's broken-bat liner off the glove of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

"It was obviously a little rough there in the first inning, with them flaring the ball all over the place, but we were down in the zone for the most part and a good angle on the fast ball," Olsen said. "This is a positive and a step in the right direction."

Olsen consistently threw his fastball in the 86-88 mph range, something that Nationals manager Jim Riggleman found encouraging.

"He's about where he was, velocity-wise and with his mechanics. (Olsen) looked very similar to last year before he got hurt," Riggleman said. "It's a good one to start on for him the first time out and build on it and continue to build up arm strength."

Olsen went a step further.

"Every bullpen, every batting practice, everything we've done so far — this is the best I've felt arm-wise," he said.

Washington is 0-6 this spring and has been outscored 67-30. Nationals pitchers have surrendered 91 hits, including 12 home runs, in 50 innings and compiled an ERA of 10.98

"We're not pitching good, but we're not pitching to a 12 ERA either," Riggleman said. "It's not as ugly as the numbers indicate, but we got a long way to go."

Florida right-hander Ricky Nolasco worked three innings in his first turn against major leaguers this spring, allowing a run on four hits with five strikeouts. Nolasco's previous start came March 3 against the University of Miami.

Nolasco said he threw all of his pitches for the first time this spring and was particularly happy with the sharpness of his slider.

"He had all his pitches working and good velocity," said Marlins bench coach Carlos Tosca.

Josh Willingham and Zimmerman homered for the Nationals.

Willingham's homer came in his first at-bat of the spring. He reported late to camp when his newborn son experienced health problems, and Riggleman attempted to ease Willingham into game situations by using him as the designated hitter Monday.

"Everything is over with as far as personal stuff," Willingham said. "That's not on my mind, really. Everything's good. ... It felt good to get in a game, to get lucky and to hit one hard."

Ronny Paulino had four hits, leading Florida's 18-hit attack. Emilio Bonifacio also drove in three runs.

"I thought we swang the bats really well. We got ourselves into some good offensive situations there — getting the runner over, hitting the ball in the air for sac flies," Tosca said.

NOTES: RHP Stephen Strasburg's Tuesday spring training debut will be broadcast live to Washington, D.C. In addition to Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in June's amateur draft, No. 10 pick Drew Storen will also pitch against the Detroit Tigers. ... Willingham will play left field Tuesday, Riggleman said. ... Marlins OF Cameron Maybin stayed back in Jupiter, Fla., to take treatment on his strained left groin, an injury sustained while running the bases Sunday. Maybin will miss at least a few days. ... Despite a plan to avoid headfirst slides like the one that caused him to break his left hand last August, Nationals OF Nyjer Morgan slid arms outstretched when he stretched a single into a double in the third inning. ... Washington SS Cristian Guzman played the field for the first time this spring, but his surgically repaired shoulder wasn't tested by a tough throw. Guzman had only one chance: a second-inning fielder's choice grounder by Peterson that he threw home to nab Nolasco.