It's a difficult thing to explain, the "dead arm" sensation that so many pitchers experience during spring training, and Jordan Zimmermann struggled today to put into words what he felt five days previous when he was rocked by the Cardinals for eight runs in only three innings.

"The other day, it just didn't feel like it was coming out of my hand with any zip," the Nationals right-hander said. "Today, I was staying behind the fastball and getting a little extra zip on it."

Whatever the physiological difference was, the disparity in results was glaring. Zimmermann allowed just one earned run over 4 2/3 innings this afternoon against the Mets, striking out six in a solid, bounce-back effort at Space Coast Stadium.

"Jordan threw the heck out of the ball," manager Davey Johnson said. "Threw the ball great. ... That was a good outing."

Zimmermann ran his pitch count up to 82, the most he (or any other Nationals starter) has thrown this spring. He emerged still feeling strong and looking forward to increasing that number the next time he takes the mound.

"I think we'll go maybe 15 more pitches the next time out and be ready to go for the season," he said. "It's right where I want to be right now."