Tanner Roark told reporters after Friday afternoon's outing against the Houston Astros that though he would have preferred to get ahead on hitters a little bit more, "...other than that it felt pretty good. Arm felt good."
In his second outing of the spring, the 27-year-old right-hander went 2 2/3 IP, allowing one run on a home run and four hits total while striking out three and throwing 49 pitches, 20 for strikes against the Astros. Through two outings this spring, Roark has allowed six hits and the one earned run, while walking no one and striking out three.
Roark is in camp competing for a spot in the Nationals' rotation after a breakthrough 2013 campaign which saw the one-time Texas Rangers' 25th Round Draft pick (2008) go (9-3) with a 3.15 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 20 walks (1.70 BB/9) and six home runs (0.51 HR/9) allowed in 33 games, 11 starts and 105 2/3 IP over which he collected 84 Ks (7.15 K/9) for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs before moving up and making his MLB debut. In 14 games (five of them starts) with the Nationals, Roark was (7-1), posting a 1.51 ERA and a 2.41 FIP with one HR (0.17 HR/9) and 11 walks (1.84 BB/9) allowed and 40 Ks (6.71 K/9) collected in 53 2/3 IP.
As he battles to stay in the majors and possibly make the rotation, he's taking the same approach this spring that he always has, as Roark explained yesterday.
"Just throwing strikes and getting guys out," he told reporters when asked what he was working on this spring. "That's all I worry about, is getting outs. Cause that's the biggest thing. Ground balls, double plays, strikeouts when you need them. And just keep going at them."
On a windy day in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, Roark said he was getting different action than he's used to with his sinker, but just worked with what he had against the Astros. "The sinker was sinking a lot more than usual," he explained, "but you've got to use that to your advantage sometimes."
Overall, Roark was happy with his second outing of the spring.
"I felt good. I thought I would get one more hitter," he said after he was lifted in favor of reliever Christian Garcia following Astros' first baseman Marc Krauss' solo home run with two down in the third.
"I knew I had a lot of pitches, because, like I said, I wasn't finishing hitters off in 1-2, 0-2 counts and letting them back into counts and going deeper into counts than I would have liked, but I felt good."
So what was the issue with finishing hitters off?
"Just maybe nibbling a little too much," Roark said, "and trying to make a perfect pitch and not going after them and pounding the zone."