Spring Training 2013: Washington Nationals vs Atlanta Braves - Grapefruit League GameThread

US PRESSWIRE

The Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves meet for the first time this Spring this afternoon in Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where Ross Detwiler makes his Grapefruit League debut against the Nats' NL East rivals.

According to a report on MLB.com, Washington Nationals' lefty Ross Detwiler (who starts vs the Atlanta Braves today) will make two Spring Training starts (today and March 3) before he heads out to Arizona to join Team USA in the World Baseball Classic on March 9th. Coming off a breakout season with the NL East champions in which the '07 1st Round pick was (10-8) with a 3.40 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 52 walks (2.85 BB/9) and 105 Ks (5.75 K/9) in 33 games (27 starts) and 164.1 IP, Detwiler starts the 2013 campaign as a part of the Nats' rotation for the first time in his career after battling for a role in the past few seasons.

There's a threat of rain today in Champion Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Disney Resort, but Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters he thinks it's important that Detwiler get his work in before heading off to join Team USA. "He's going to have I think five full days before Detwiler will pitch on the 9th," Johnson said, "Because I think he's going to come back and pitch the 3rd, so it's an important day for him. I'd like him to get at least two starts before the ninth."

Detwiler has been something of a project for the Nationals' manager since Johnson took over on the Nats' bench in 2011. The 70-year-old skipper said he saw Detwiler really take a big step toward the end of the 2012 campaign. "Det really started learning how to pitch maybe the last three outings," Johnson told reporters earlier this Spring, "I mean, he has such a good fastball, and he's stubborn as a mule, but he could get guys out with just his fastball. I mean, a 93-4 mph sinker, well-located, and he pitched in good, but he found out that if he used some of his other pitches, his curve ball and his breaking ball, it would be a little easier."

The Nats' left-hander will attempt to continue to show he's taken the next step this Spring and in the WBC. His first chance to impress comes this afternoon if rain allows it...

• Here's the Nationals' starting lineup for today's game with the Atlanta Braves:

Who's Watching Listening To the Nationals? Today's game is being broadcast on MLB's Gameday Audio everywhere and on 1580 AM in the nation's capital.

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