Back on mound, Nolasco unfazed by wildness
Marlins righty issues walk, wild pitch, hits two in spring debut
JUPITER, Fla. -- Throwing strikes is a source of pride for Ricky Nolasco.
A year ago, the Marlins' right-hander issued only 33 walks, and he hit just two batters in 157 innings.
Based on his track record, it's understandable why Nolasco was frustrated by a wild Grapefruit League debut on Sunday in Florida's 5-1 loss to the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.
Back in game competition for the first time since Aug. 28, Nolasco clearly wasn't his old self in a 1 2/3-inning stint. He gave up four runs on four hits with a walk, a wild pitch and two hit batters, including Nyjer Morgan to open the game.
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Florida's projected No. 2 starter, Nolasco also is returning from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Considering the setbacks of the past six months, the Marlins were just happy to have Nolasco back on the mound. Now, he will have three more Grapefruit League starts to polish up his delivery and tempo.
"He missed the last month-and-a-half of the season," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Seeing him out there pitching was good enough. He was happy to be out there."
The rough first outing hasn't swayed the Marlins away from tabbing Nolasco as their Game 2 starter on April 2 against the Mets at Sun Life Stadium.
"Oh yeah, definitely," Rodriguez said when asked if Nolasco was on pace to pitch the second game. "He should be all right."
Due to his knee injury, Nolasco was limited to 26 starts a year ago, and he was 14-9 with a 4.51 ERA.
"It's been a really long time," Nolasco said. "It's good to be out there again, and to just get that first one out of the way. I was just trying to get people out, and obviously, to pitch ahead.
"I didn't make as many quality pitches as I'd like to. It's just good to be out there, pain free."
Nolasco will be back on the mound on Friday against the Astros at Roger Dean Stadium.
By the time he left the park on Sunday, he already was brushing off the start and looking ahead.
"I'm not a person who beats myself up after bad outings," he said.
Nolasco noted that he is a pitcher who relies heavily on having the feel for his pitches. And he said that will come with innings.
"Things are going to come the more I throw," he said. "I'm not going to go out there and beat myself up. I'm going to prepare the same way I do between starts every time. The more I throw, the better I feel.
"I was just kind of all over the place when I was going to my fastball. My body was speeding up. I couldn't catch up. I think I was a little too excited out there, and trying to do a little too much. I think that's what hurt me the most on my fastball command. It's nothing that I'm concerned about. I know that I'm going to fill the strike zone up, and the more I throw, the better I'll feel."
In a wild first inning, Nolasco plunked Morgan in the back on an 0-2 pitch. And he grazed the helmet of Danny Espinosa.
Hitting Morgan raised eyebrows based on the history between the Marlins and the Nationals center fielder.
Morgan was at the center of an incident between the clubs last Sept. 1 at Sun Life Stadium.
Nolasco made it clear the pitch that got away was unintentional.
"Obviously, no matter who is up there, I'm not trying to do that," Nolasco said. "It's my first outing coming off an injury."