ATLANTA — The first time Taylor Jordan felt his back tighten up, he had just gotten up from sitting in the dentist’s chair last week. He stood at the desk signing some paperwork and stretched, wondering where the discomfort had come from.
“I still don’t even know how it happened,” the right-hander said Sunday.
Jordan described the back feeling that landed him on the disabled list on Saturday as “a little sore, a little tender,” but it didn’t sound like a major issue. It didn’t affect him in Friday’s game, he said, but it’s there.
It did, however, end his season.
With an early shutdown looming as part of his continued return from 2011 Tommy John surgery, the Nationals opted to place Jordan on the DL with the back issue, so as not to put him at risk for further injury.
“It was inevitable anyway,” Jordan said. “A couple more starts, probably, but whatever.”
Assistant general manager Bryan Minniti informed Jordan of the team’s decision and congratulated him on a fabulous season.
And it was. Jordan’s year was remarkable.
The 24-year-old began his first full season back from Tommy John with Single-A Potomac, moving up to Double-A in early May and getting the call the major leagues on June 29. He joked Saturday about his one appearance in a major league game in spring training, a shellacking by the St. Louis Cardinals in a split-squad game.
He said when the season began his “highest goal was to be (in MLB) by September, but that was my highest goal — and it wasn’t even really a necessarily realistic goal for me. I got here before the All-Star break.”
“I finished,” he said. “I made it.”
Jordan pitched to a 3.66 ERA in nine starts this season, and made a positive impression upon the Nationals’ coaching staff and front office that he could be a candidate for their rotation in 2014. He certainly earned the right to compete for that job in spring training.
“Hopefully what I did impressed them enough for me to have a chance to be up here next year,” he said.
Jordan said he’d like to work over the winter to add a cut fastball to his repertoire, even though he admitted he hadn’t told anyone about those plans just yet.
“I think that might be useful for me for lefties,” he said. “I think I’m going to develop something like that.
“This is just my own thoughts. I think a cutter is a good pitch. Everyone seems to throw one and everyone’s always talking about it. ‘Oh, he’s throwing a cutter in there.’ No one says that about a sinker, really. They say, ‘Oh, he’s sinking it.’ But it’s not a big deal.”
Jordan mostly relies on his sinking fastball, but his funky arm action helps him with deception and he’s got a good changeup. His slider also improved significantly during his time in the major leagues.