Jordan Zimmermann and Nationals manager Davey Johnson liked what they were seeing — a lot of foul balls.
"That tells you his stuff is great," Davey Johnson said after Washington tied a Miami Marlins split squad 1-1 Saturday. "It's hard to center on somebody who has that much movement and is throwing that hard."
Zimmermann threw four scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out three in his third outing of the spring.
The right-hander, who gave up four runs on seven hits in his last outing, said he didn't want to waste pitches Saturday and was just trying to get the Marlins to make early contact — get two strikes — and then go after them.
"They were fouling a lot of pitches off and not putting them in play," Zimmermann said. "It's kind of hard to get early contact when they're not hitting it solid, which is a good sign. A couple of hits they did get weren't hit very hard, so I'm pleased with the outing."
One key sequence for Zimmermann came in the third inning, when he faced Miami first baseman Gaby Sanchez, with a runner on second and two outs. Sanchez had delivered a two-out single off Zimmermann in the first inning, but this time struck out looking at an inside fastball to end the inning.
"In the first at-bat, he pulled a slider through the hole, a slider down and away," Zimmermann said. "So I was going to change it up and just try to pound him hard in(side) and see what he could do with it. I missed a few in and then I went with the slider away and then I came back in hard and just locked him up."
Zimmermann left with a 1-0 lead thanks to a run-scoring groundout by Washington's Chad Tracy in the first inning. However, Miami tied the game in the sixth on a solo homer by catcher John Buck, who went 2 for 3.
The Marlins got scoreless relief outings from Steve Cishek, Alex Sanabia, Robert Ray and Sandy Rosario behind starter Tom Koehler.
"Everybody threw the ball very well," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "They only scored one run. We continue to pitch very good in spring training. Our pitching staff has been very solid. I'm very excited about our pitching staff."
With outfielders Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton still sidelined by injuries, the Marlins have been able to get a good look at potential bench players, including Scott Cousins and Bryan Petersen, who both went 0 for 4 on Saturday. Austin Kearns, Aaron Rowand and Chris Coughlin are also in that mix.
"Right now, it's too early to talk about how we're going to shape this ballclub," Gullien said. "There's a lot of guys competing for a spot. You cannot make any decision this quick. They have more at-bats to go. Whatever we need the most, that's what we're going to take."
Johnson appeared a little miffed about a play that took place in the ninth inning.
Jason Michaels led off with a single and went to third on a single by Brett Carroll, leaving the Nationals with runners on first and third with no outs. With Miami's infield playing in, Jhonatan Solano hit a groundball. With Carroll not running on the play, the Marlins got a double play and Michaels stayed at third base. Roger Bernadina then grounded out to end the game.
Johnson said there was a "miscommunication" between first base coach Trent Jewett and third base coach Bo Porter, but seemed to make it clear he thought Carroll should have been running on the play because with the infield in, the Marlins wouldn't be covering second base.
"That was not a good picture to see," Johnson said. "It's a baserunning mistake. We've been pretty good, but that wasn't pretty."
NOTES: Nationals outfielders Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel and first baseman Adam LaRoche are still bothered by injuries and won't be allowed to play in another Grapefruit League game until a day after they have had a successful work out in front of Johnson. The trio will be allowed to take at-bats on the team's minor league field, under the supervision of team trainers. . Morse had an MRI on his strained right lat muscle, which only confirmed the original diagnosis. "All I know is it restricts his throwing," Johnson said. . LaRoche, who sprained his left ankle early in camp. is still experiencing discomfort on the outside of the foot, particularly when running the bases . Ankiel is out with a tight hamstring. "Those guys don't have to prove anything to me," Johnson said. "My main concern is just getting them ready (for the regular season). It depends on how quickly they recover." . Johnson said the report on right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (strained left hamstring) is that the pitcher "is in great spirits and that he wouldn't be down that long." However, Johnson wants the medical team to "sit on" Wang, so he doesn't try to come back too soon. Wang is expected to miss at least two weeks after sustaining the injury Thursday. If Wang still isn't ready for the regular season, Johnson indicated left-hander John Lannan would be first in line to move into the No. 5 spot . Johnson also said he will carry seven relievers into the regular season with two of them being long relievers who can also spot start . While Guillen is getting a chance to see more of the players competing for his bench spots, there's no question he would like to get outfielders Logan Morrison (knee) and Giancarlo Stanton (wrist/knee) back soon, along with third baseman Greg Dobbs (hamstring). "They're getting better," Guillen said. "I expect them to be back maybe in the middle of next week." . Second baseman Donovan Solano had two hits for the Marlins Saturday. He also stole a base.