VIERA, Fla. — Ross Detwiler was back in the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse Saturday afternoon, disappointed by the way his experience in the World Baseball Classic ended but thrilled with what he got out of the experience.
“I really thought we were better than we showed,” Detwiler said. “Sometimes the game goes that way… But I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
“I take a lot of pride in somebody asking me to represent my country,” Detwiler said, asked what he’d tell players who are reluctant or hesitant to participate in the tournament. “It was a no-brainer for me. I understand if people have lingering injuries or whatever. But if somebody is just scared to get hurt, why are you playing the game? That’s something that happens in professional sports. There are some pitchers who have lingering injuries, and some hitters that have them too that just need to be ready for Opening Day. I didn’t, so I was happy to take the invite.”
Detwiler, who threw four scoreless innings in Team USA’s win on March 9, threw a bullpen session on Thursday in preparation for a possible start in Saturday’s game against the Dominican Republic.
With the U.S. team falling to Puerto Rico on Friday night and getting eliminated from the tournament, Detwiler will start on Sunday in Lakeland for the Nationals against the Tigers. He hasn’t thrown more than roughly 50 pitches in a game, which he did twice, so he may end up being a bit behind the rest of the Nationals’ starters, but he appeared unconcerned on Saturday.
“I’ll just see where the arm strength is tomorrow,” Detwiler said. “Once the ball starts creeping up a little bit, I’ll know I have a few more pitches and then I’m out of there. I’m going to be honest with how I feel. I’m not going to try to push the envelope at all. Just go out there and when I get to where I need to be or when they think I’m starting to get tired, then I’ll know.”
Detwiler figured he’d have a bit more time to catch up, anyway, since he’ll be at the back-end of the Nationals’ rotation.
Manager Davey Johnson provided a little more clarity on how he sees his regular-season rotation lining up, too, and it sounds like the plan is for Dan Haren to be slotted into the No. 4 spot with Detwiler following him at No. 5.
The Nationals could’ve opted to pitch Detwiler No. 4 behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez (who is expected back in Nationals camp on Monday) and Jordan Zimmermann, allowing them to follow a right-hander with a left-hander all the way through, and then have Strasburg follow Haren on the other end.
Haren’s experience, however, played into the decision to put him at No. 4.
“It’s just basically we have him a little ahead of Det in experience,” Johnson said. “A lot of that depends on how they come out of here, but if you’ve noticed how we’ve been starting them it’s been Haren four, Det five.”
For the remainder of the spring, the Nationals will be working to line their pitchers up to be in line by April 1. Jordan Zimmermann will pitch on Monday and Gio Gonzalez will throw in a minor league game that day as well. The Nationals have an offday on Tuesday, but Chris Young will start for them on Wednesday and Haren will pitch Thursday, March 21.
Johnson said Young is also lined up to pitch on March 25, but he does have an out clause in his contract that he could exercise starting on March 24 if he does not feel he will make the major league roster — and as it’s currently constituted, without an injury, he would not.