World Baseball Classic now a prime concern for Nationals

Ross Detwiler joins Gio Gonzalez on Team USA for spring tournament

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In discussing it with their pitchers, the Nationals took into account the way the WBC schedule was set up, how it would fit into the ones they’d established, and who they would be sending them off to. With Joe Torre managing, Greg Maddux serving as the pitching coach and Marcel Lachemann as the bullpen coach, they felt confident.

“The staff over at Team USA, they’ve been around the block once or twice,” Rizzo said. “I look at it as the fact that we’re humbled and flattered that Team USA wants two of our starting pitchers on their ballclub. We think it’s vitally important that the USA is well represented.”

“It’s an honor to get to pick [Maddux’s] brain,” Gonzalez said last week. “I was telling [McCatty], ‘Cat, I’m leaving you for someone better.’”

When Johnson managed Team USA in 2009, he said it was very difficult to keep all of the players in line with their preparation for their individual seasons because they played just eight games over the course of 23 days. This year, from the first game of pool play until the championship, everything will be wrapped up in 12 days.

The Nationals had planned for Detwiler to make his first spring start Feb. 27, but they adjusted that to the 26th so he could start March 3 as well before heading to Arizona and pitching March 9. Gonzalez received permission to skip the tournament’s first round, staying with the Nationals for three starts.

They communicated their concerns to Torre, Maddux and Lachemann and figured out a way they could fit the pieces together as smoothly as possible.

“International play is always really exciting,” said Johnson, who also managed in the Olympics. “Because you learn baseball is played at a pretty high level in a lot of places. And it’s really exciting knowing you’re out there representing your country as well as the Washington Nationals.”

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