JUPITER, Fla. -- Washington manager Jim Riggleman said if left-hander Matt Chico were to make the Opening Day roster, he would come out of the bullpen -- most likely as a long reliever.
However, the team is loaded with quality relievers and Chico most likely will start the season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he would be a starter.
On Wednesday, Chico pitched an inning in relief against the Marlins and allowed an unearned run.
Harper likely to play against Yanks on Saturday
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is expected to travel to Tampa, Fla., on Saturday to face his favorite team as a kid, the Yankees. He will likely come off the bench.
It's doubtful Harper will get a start in Spring Training because manager Jim Riggleman would like to give his seven other outfielders a chance to play. Riggleman said he hopes to narrow down his outfielders by March 20.
Harper has appeared in all three spring games as a reserve and is 1-for-5 with a walk. He most likely will start the season at Class A Hagerstown.
"He has two plate appearances in each game. That is a lot," Riggleman said. "I would not have thought he would have six appearances at this point, but he does. We have to have respect for the other guys.
"We have to get a little work for Jeff Frazier and Jonathan Van Every, everybody. They signed with us. We just can't blow them off. We made a commitment to bring them in."
Aside from Pujols, Zimmermann stifles Cards
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann pitched in his first game of the spring, throwing three shutout innings and allowing four hits in a 7-5 loss to the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon. He struck out one batter and walked one in the outing.
Even more impressive, Zimmermann was able to get out of jams. The Cardinals had two runners on base in the first and second innings, but Zimmermann was able to get out of trouble.
"It was good to get out of there without any damage," Zimmermann said. "You don't want runners on, but when you do get them on, it's good to get out of some jams.
"I thought it went pretty well. I was up in the zone a little bit and got hit around a little bit, but the big thing for me was how was I going to feel in the second and third innings? Was my arm going to get tight? I felt great. I felt awesome the whole time."
A year ago, Zimmermann was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Now, he is expected to be one of the pitchers in the Nationals' rotation.
"I think he is fine," said pitching coach Steve McCatty. "It has been a while since he had the surgery. He did what he needed to do. It was a good thing for him to pitch last year and get that experience. It's Spring Training and I think he is 100 percent. No problems at all."
The only person Zimmermann had serious problems with was Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who had two hits in two at-bats. During his career, Pujols is 4-for-5 with two home runs against the right-hander.
In the third inning, Zimmermann tired to quick pitch the Cardinals' slugger, but Pujols still managed to get a single to center field. After Mark Hamilton hit into a double play to end the inning, Pujols asked Zimmermann, "You trying to quick pitch me there?"
"I was thinking to myself, 'I will do anything to get you out,'" Zimmermann said. "I wonder what the ball looks like when the pitch comes to Pujols. Does he see a beach ball or what? It seems to be that way every time I'm throwing. He hits me pretty hard. I have to figure out something."
Righty Mock struggles against Cardinals
JUPITER, Fla. -- When it comes to Nationals right-hander Garrett Mock, one could see the frustration in pitching coach Steve McCatty's face after the team's 7-5 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday.
Mock pitched his first game of the spring and struggled, allowing five runs -- one earned -- in two-thirds of an inning. He also walked three batters.
It didn't help that Mock had poor defense behind him, but, according to McCatty, Mock should have found a way to get out of the inning.
"He got behind, walked a few guys. When you put those extra guys on base, something happens and it costs you big-time," McCatty said. "He was just a little bit too fine. You have to convince yourself that you are going to put the ball in play. Things happen in the game. An error might happen, but still, you have to make pitches after that. I know he was trying to make pitches, but he didn't get the ball where he wanted it to go."
Brown still out with ankle injury
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was hoping to bring outfielder Corey Brown to Tampa, Fla., to play against the Yankees on Saturday, but Brown will stay in Viera because of a sprained left ankle.
Brown, who is a Tampa native, is not expected to play until sometime next week. He hurt the ankle sliding into home plate against the Mets on Tuesday.
"It's a typical sprained ankle," Riggleman said. "He is from Tampa. I was hoping to take him there so he could play, but he is not going to be ready by Saturday."
Brown is expected to start the season at Triple-A Syracuse. There is a possibility Brown could make his Major League debut this year.
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.