In his last trip to the mound on March 12th, 27-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander Tanner Roark gave up three hits, two walks and three runs in a Grapefruit League game against the Houston Astros. Though he struggled with his command at the start, some advice from Steve McCatty got the candidate for the fifth spot in the Nats' rotation back on track. "I felt I had a lot more command of my offspeed [stuff], got a feel for it finally," Roark said after the game, "and that has a lot to do with staying back so you can stay on top of the ball and get through it a lot better."
Through three outings this spring, Roark has given up nine hits, four runs and two walks while recording six Ks in eight innings of work. Roark's one of three pitchers, along with Taylor Jordan and Ross Detwiler, who is competing for a spot on the Nationals' Opening Day roster, but he told reporters after finishing his work against the Astros that he is just concentrating on working hard and doing what he can to help the team instead of worrying about the competition.
"Don't even think about it," Roark said. "Try not to think about it. Just go out there and do the best I can and help out the ballclub as best I can."
While he would, of course, like to start, Roark said he's just concentrated on making the roster out of Spring Training in whatever role he can fill. "Whatever I can do to help out the team," he explained. "I want to make the team, very badly, and whatever I can help out the team with."
Roark gets another opportunity to make a good impression this afternoon when he starts for the Nationals against the Detroit Tigers in a 1:05 pm EDT game in Lakeland, Florida's Joker Marchant Stadium.
• Here's the lineup that will take the field behind Roark:
#Nats lineup @ #Tigers: Span CF, Desmond SS, Zimmerman DH, Harper LF, Espinosa 2B, Moore 1B, Walters 3B, Kobernus RF, Solano C, Roark P— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 17, 2014
• Here's the Tigers' lineup for this afternoon's Grapefruit League game:
Updated #Tigers lineup: Lombardozzi 2B, Hunter RF, Cabrera 1B, Avila C, Jackson CF, Kelly 3B, Collins LF, Holaday DH, Perez SS. Sanchez P— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) March 17, 2014
In another bit of rotation-related Nationals news this morning, Doug Fister (inflammation in right elbow) threw in a minor league game today and came through it without any issues:
#Nats RHP Doug Fister felt good after pitching in a Mi Lg game this morning. "I'm still working some kinks out, but (feeling) a lot better."— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 17, 2014
More info when it is available on what the next step will be for Fister.
Game time: 1:05 pm EDT from Lakeland, FL's Joker Marchant Stadium. This afternoon's game is available via MLB.com's Gameday audio only, and it's the Tigers' feed, but it's baseball...
Who's listening to the Nationals?