Through two appearances this Spring, one as a starter, right-hander Tanner Roark has thrown five scoreless innings as he competes for a spot in the Washington Nationals' starting rotation.
Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on Thursday afternoon that he knows Roark wants back in the rotation after working in relief in 2015 and he thinks Roark should go out and earn the spot if he wants it.
"I was talking to [Roark about] why he was taken out of rotation here," Baker explained. "I mean, the guy won fifteen games and then the next year he was in the bullpen. So he told me, 'I want to start.' I said, 'Well, if you want to start you tell the world,' let us handle the pressure of answering the questions and you just go out and pitch."
Roark talked after his first outing this Spring about dialing it back and working with his low 90s sinker as he transitions back to a starting role after filling a number of roles in the Nationals' bullpen last season.
"I tried it last year where I tried to blow it by everybody and everything was up and down the middle," he said.
"I wasn't locating it and when it's up and down the middle anybody can hit it, so try to live down at the knees and let the ball sink."
In his third outing of the Spring tonight, Roark took on the Atlanta Braves in Grapefruit League action from Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, FL. A 1-2-3 first gave him six scoreless this Spring.
Leadoff and one-out singles by Nick Swisher and Kelly Johnson put runners on first and second in front of Gordon Beckham, but Roark got a fly to center for out no.3 and his seventh scoreless inning of the Spring.
Jace Peterson's leadoff triple in the third threatened Roark's scoreless inning streak and it ended on an RBI groundout to the right side off Michael Bourn's bat that made it 4-1 Nationals after two and a half.
With some help from his defense on a few hard-hit balls, Roark completed his fourth scoreless and was done for the night after another 1-2-3 frame.
• Trea Turner improved to 2 for 14 this Spring with a leadoff single off Braves' lefty Manny Banuelos in the first at bat of tonight's game. Michael Taylor and Stephen Drew followed with a single and two-run double, respectively, as the Nats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
• Turner was 2 for 2 tonight after a leadoff single in the second that sent Tony Campana to third. Campana scored on a line drive, ground-run double by Taylor. 3-0. Turner scored on an RBI groundout by Drew. 4-0.
• Michael A. Taylor was 3 for 3 with two doubles after he lined a second two-bagger to left off Braves' righty Aaron Blair and he scored when Clint Robinson hit a tape-measure homer to right to make it 6-1 Nationals. Robinson's second HR of the Spring.
• Matt den Dekker, who finished strong last season, tripled to start the Nationals' fifth, leaving him 1 for 2 with a walk tonight and 4 for 16 so far this Spring. He scored on a sac fly by Jose Lobaton to make it 7-1 Nats.
• Shawn Kelley retired the Braves in order in the bottom of the fifth inning. Aaron Laffey worked a scoreless sixth.
• Chris Bostick doubled in two runs in the seventh to put the Nationals up, 9-1. Bostick, 22, was acquired along with Abel De Los Santos in the deal that sent Ross Detwiler to Texas.
He played at High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg in 2015, putting up a combined .258/.312/.398 line with 22 doubles, eight triples and 12 HRs in 137 games and 581 plate appearances, stealing 31 bases in 39 attempts.
• Sean Burnett threw a scoreless bottom of the seventh, getting three ground ball outs in a quick 1-2-3 frame.
• Tyler Moore hit another home run to put the Nationals up 10-1 in the eighth, taking Braves' right-hander Hunter Cervenka deep for a solo shot, his second of the Spring.
• 2011 1st Round pick Brian Goodwin walked and eventually scored in the top of the eighth to make it 11-1. 2010 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis retired the Braves in order in the eighth and Trevor Gott worked a scoreless ninth to end it, sitting 94-97 with his fastball according to reports from Florida.