Daily Wrap: Detwiler to bullpen, Fister throws in Minor League game, & more
by Amanda Comak
VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals were rained out on Monday afternoon in Lakeland, Fla., washing away their game against the Detroit Tigers and giving them a little extra time as they head into the lone off day of Spring Training.
But despite the lack of a game there was still plenty of news to go around.
News of the Day: Ross Detwiler will open the 2014 season in the Nationals’ bullpen.
Nationals Manager Matt Williams said on Monday that left-hander Ross Detwiler will open the 2014 season as an integral member of the team’s bullpen. The decision, Williams said, was one based on what the Nationals felt was ultimately the best fit for the team this season, and Williams emphasized that Detwiler’s talents will give them a unique relief weapon.
“We feel like it’s a good move for our team,” Williams said. “He provides something special out of the bullpen for us. We talked to him. I don’t know if anybody would ever be really happy with something like that, but we don’t feel it’s a demotion of any sort. We just feel like we’re a better team with him coming out of our bullpen.
“He offers something that’s special — power lefty, mid-90s (mph) lefty. It doesn’t mean he won’t start at some point in the future, but we’ve asked him to get ready for the start of the season in the bullpen.”
The Nationals have been high on Detwiler’s talent since they selected him in the first round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and his maturation as a starting pitcher was evident in his outstanding performance in Game 4 of the 2012 National League Division Series, as well as his outings early in 2013. But a back injury stole much of last season from Detwiler, and now the Nationals would like to utilize his talents in a way that will make him even more valuable.
In his career, Detwiler has excelled in relief, allowing just four earned runs in 32.1 innings and holding hitters to a .173 batting average against. His heavy sinker, complemented by his hard fastball, coming from a left-hander is exceptionally rare in the Major Leagues. The Nationals simply want to utilize that weapon when it is most favorable.
“He provides something special for us,” Williams said of Detwiler, noting his role in the bullpen will be “fluid.” “I just think it’s a luxury for our team to have a guy in the bullpen who can do (the) types of things (he can).
“I told him, this is something we feel is going to make our team better. We’re here to win games, and here to compete to play meaningful games in September and October, and he’s going to be a big part of that out of our bullpen. For me it’s not a tough decision — it’s a prudent one… There’s a lot of thought and a lot of talk among our staff and our organization in making that move. If I know Ross, he will take that bull by its horns and he will go with it and be really good.”
Williams listed Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark and Chris Young as remaining competitors for the team’s No. 5 starter job.
Quote of the Day: Doug Fister after pitching two innings in a Minor League game
Fister, who had been previously sidelined with some elbow inflammation, faced hitters on Monday for the first time since March 2. He threw 30 pitches in a Minor League intrasquad game, with Wilson Ramos catching him, and came out feeling positive about his progress.
“I’m still working out some kinks,” Fister said. “But it’s a lot better… It’s not as sharp as I want it to be, but for being, technically, my first outing in a while, I was fairly pleased with what I had going.”
The Nationals will have their only off day of the spring on Tuesday, with players and staff given a day to recoup after several weeks of workouts and games in preparation for the long season… The Nationals will return to action on Wednesday night at home in Viera, Fla., against the Houston Astros. The game will be broadcast on MASN… MLB Network and MLB Network Radio will be on-site at Nationals camp this week, so be on the lookout for some interesting content in the coming days from those two outlets.