VIERA, Fla. — Monday morning, while the rest of his Washington teammates enjoy their first off-day of the spring, Ross Detwiler will board a plane for Phoenix and begin his transition from Nationals camp to Team USA.
Detwiler, who pitched two innings Sunday in his final tuneup before the World Baseball Classic, left with mixed emotions. He is elated to be a member of Team USA and excited for what’s to come in the tournament, but he understands what he’s leaving.
“I think it’s going to be for a good cause but you never really want to leave teammates behind,” Detwiler said. “It’ll be a lot of fun. I’m pretty excited about going and being able to represent my country.
“The overall goal is to win the World Series. Gold (in the WBC) would be nice but we have a lot of work to do here.”
The Nationals will keep tabs on Detwiler while he’s away. He is scheduled to pitch again on Saturday, following Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong to the mound against Team Italy, and they’ve got a firm plan with USA manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Greg Maddux in place.
“That’s the only reason they’re letting me go is because they have a plan and they’ve worked closely with all the coaches over there,” Detwiler said, joking that he hopes he doesn’t hear from pitching coach Steve McCatty while he’s gone, because that’ll mean he’s doing something wrong.
“I feel like I’m in good hands. I’m pretty excited to get going.”
Sunday Detwiler used 51 pitches (31 strikes) in two innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. He allowed a run on four hits and struck out four on a cold, windy day at Space Coast Stadium. He will likely be held to a 65-pitch limit in the WBC so the Nationals were pleased with the base he has at this point.
One thing Detwiler has been focusing on this spring is working in more of his offspeed pitches. Generally reliant on his fastball, manager Davey Johnson has stressed mixing things up with Detwiler, so he doesn’t become too predictable.
That was an area Detwiler was pleased with on Sunday. He threw his offspeed stuff so often that he laughed when recalling catcher Kurt Suzuki telling him he was impressed with his curveball and changeup and joked he was surprised they were as good as they were since he rarely threw them last year.
“I think I threw more offspeed pitches in two innings today than I did all year last year,” Detwiler said.
If Team USA reaches the finals of the WBC, Detwiler will be gone from Nationals camp until March 20.