Nats’ Corbin smooth in spring debut, goes 2 innings vs Cards

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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Patrick Corbin’s longer-than-normal wait for his first spring start left him more refreshed that rusty.

The Washington Nationals lefty made his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday, allowing one run to St. Louis in two quick innings of a 6-3 loss.

“I liked what I saw out of Pat today,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He had some nice fluidity. He was getting extended, which was kind of nice. He said he felt good.”

Corbin threw 202 innings regular-season innings last year and 23 1/3 more in the postseason, prompting the Nationals to slow his workload in the spring. He’s the last of the reigning World Series champions’ starters to appear in a spring game.

In the postseason, Corbin started three games and made five relief appearances.

“For a lot of us last year we threw a lot more than we have in the past or longer,” Corbin said. “I think it could help.”

Corbin needed only 24 pitches to complete two innings. He walked two, and the lone hit he surrendered was a wind-aided, opposite-field homer hit by Paul DeJong off an unintentionally elevated fastball.

“I feel pretty good after this one,” Corbin said. “Just looking forward to continuing to get stronger.”

Corbin signed a six-year free agent contract with Washington prior to last season, then proceeded to match his career high with 14 wins, pitching to a 3.25 ERA.

His start came 24 hours after Stephen Strasburg pitched in his first Grapefruit League game. The reigning World Series MVP didn’t fare as well as Corbin, allowing three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Afterward Strasburg and Martinez agreed that the big righty rushed his delivery.

“It was his first time out facing hitter and you get antsy,” Martinez said. “It happens.”

Presumed opening day starter Max Scherzer has already made two starts this spring. Anibal Sanchez will make his second spring start on Sunday.

Eric Fedde, one of the competitors for the fifth starting rotation spot, followed Corbin on Saturday and allowed two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. Joe Ross and Austin Voth are also vying to be the fifth starter.

Martinez believes it’s easier to evaluate his pitching staff’s progress now that all are appearing in games.

“When you watch bullpens like I do every day they wow you — like, wow, man that guy’s got good stuff,” Martinez said. “Now, all of the sudden, I like to see them go out and compete, and compete against bats in other uniforms. That’s when you really can tell, because things start speeding up a little bit and you start making better location pitches – locations and trying to work on different things.”

NOTES: Washington CF Victor Robles underwent an MRI on Friday on the oblique he injured on a throw against the Yankees on Wednesday. The results came back negative. He took batting practice in the cage on Saturday but didn’t play in the game. He’s considered day-to-day. … Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munez left Saturday’s game because of a left hamstring strain.

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