Nationals vs Yankees: Grapefruit League GameThread - Ross Detwiler vs NY

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Washington Nationals' lefty Ross Detwiler returns to competitive action for the first time since July 3, 2013. The Nats' 27-year-old lefty returned to the mound last fall, but he makes his first start of the spring this afternoon against the NY Yankees in George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Ross Detwiler was happy with the way his 2013 campaign began, before an oblique injury landed him on the DL. Washington's 2007 1st Round was (2-3) with a 2.53 ERA, eight walks (1.68 BB/9) and 23 Ks (4.85 K/9) in seven starts and 42 2/3 IP for the Nationals before the start against the Los Angeles Dodgers during which he was injured.

"Went home, had a normal offseason, started throwing a little sooner this year with all the time off, so I feel like I'm ready to go already..." - Ross Detwiler this winter on disappointing 2013 season

"I started the year great," he told reporters this winter, "and then had a little oblique problem in LA and then tried to just push through that and do everything I could and I lost my location, I was walking a few people and then I'd kind of throw a ball down the middle and get hit hard."

In five starts following his DL stint, the 27-year-old southpaw posted a 6.31 ERA with four walks (1.40 BB/9) and 16 Ks (5.61 K/9) in 25 2/3 IP. Detwiler then went on the DL again with a lower back issue, later diagnosed as a disc issue and a pinched nerve which ended his 2013 campaign after just 13 starts. The Nats' lefty finished the year at +0.9 fWAR, with a (2-7) record, 4.04 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 14 walks (1.77 BB/9) and 29 Ks (4.92 K/9) in 71 1/3 IP.

It was a disappointing follow-up to the southpaw's breakout season in 2012 which saw him finish at a career-best +1.6 fWAR with a (10-7) record, 3.40 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 52 walks (2.85 BB/9) and 105 Ks (5.75 K/9) in 164 1/3 IP for the NL East division winners.

Detwiler returned to the mound in the instructional league last fall and said he was finally healthy.

"After instructs I proved my health to everybody and myself," he explained.

"Went home, had a normal offseason, started throwing a little sooner this year with all the time off, so I feel like I'm ready to go already. Kind of itching to get back out there."

Detwiler will get on the mound in competitive action today for the first time since he went on the DL last July. This spring, the lefty is competing for a spot in the Nationals' rotation. He said this winter that was no different from any other Spring Training.

"I've never had just a spot given to me. It's always kind of been just up for grabs and I've won it in the past and think I can do it again..." - Ross Detwiler on competing for rotation spot this spring

"I've done it every single year so it's nothing different for me. I've never had just a spot given to me. It's always kind of been just up for grabs and I've won it in the past and think I can do it again if I stay healthy and throw well."

Behind the plate this afternoon, when Detwiler and the Nationals take on the New York Yankees, will be new Nats' catcher Jose Lobaton. In a conversation with reporters on Sunday, Nationals' manager Matt Williams told reporters that it was important that the 29-year-old backstop gets comfortable with the pitchers he'll be working with this season following the trade that brought him to Washington from the Tampa Bay Rays.

"He got a lot of it in the live sessions," Williams explained. "He got a lot of it in the bullpen sessions, so he's got a sense of everybody. But of course you get into a game situation, it's completely different. So, we'll try to make sure that he sees everybody. It's a concern, but we'll deal with it and we'll adjust as need be."

Detwiler and Lobaton will take the field in the bottom of the first this afternoon when the Nationals take on the Yankees in Tampa's George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Here's the full Nats' lineup for the fourth Grapefruit League game:

Who's watching the Nationals?

Game time 1:05 pm EST. Today's game is available on the MLB Network or YES if you're in the NY area. It's also on MLB.tv and according to MLB.com there are no blackout restrictions for Spring Training games.

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