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Washington Nationals’ Josh Rogers fighting for rotation spot in D.C.

Josh Rogers impressed late last season and he’s fighting for a rotation spot this spring.

MLB: MAR 31 Spring Training - Nationals at Mets Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Josh Rogers’ 2022 debut, back on March 18th, saw the 27-year-old southpaw throw a quick, 1-2-3 top of the first inning against Miami, before he returned to the hill in the second and gave up a leadoff homer to left-center by Lorenzo Quintana and a double to right by Lewin Diaz which did not amount to anything for the Marlins.

“Felt pretty good for first time out,” Rogers told reporters after the outing.

The left-hander signed with Washington in early June 2021, three days after he was released by the Baltimore Orioles, following four games (and two starts) back following a year off the mound in competitive action during 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign, which he’d spent in rehab mode recovering from Tommy John surgery.

In six starts and 35 2⁄3 innings pitched with the Nationals last season, Rogers put up a 3.28 ERA, a 5.83 FIP, 14 walks (3.53 BB/9), and 22 Ks (5.55 K/9), over which he held hitters to a .241/.320/.436 line.

“Was excited to get the ball for the first game and get things rolling,” he said after his ‘22 debut.

“Put in a lot of work this offseason to really come in prepared and ready to roll, and felt really good with all my pitches in the strike zone, and trying to get ahead, obviously need to do a little bit better job than that.

“But all in all,” he added, “I felt like it was pretty good.

“I gave up the solo homer in the second, but probably a bad sequence there, but it happens, but I felt great all in all, I think it was pretty good.”

His manager, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez, said the lefty came to camp raring to go and he had to try to bridle the enthusiastic pitcher.

“I mean, this guy’s been throwing,” Martinez explained before the Grapefruit League opener.

“He said, ‘I can throw seven innings today.’ So, he’s going to pitch two innings. So, but he’s been throwing quite a bit, he’s already had like seven live BPs coming in here, so he’s ready to go.”

Rogers was also ready to go when called upon to start in place of Erick Fedde in this past Thursday night’s game against the New York Mets, with the right-hander scratched from his planned outing with tightness in the right side and sent for an MRI.

In his second start in Grapefruit League action, Rogers tossed two scoreless to start, giving up just a hit and a walk while striking out two, then Tomás Nido stepped in and hit the 35th pitch of the game from the Nationals’ starter, a 3-2 fastball, out to center for what looked to be another solo shot, that was ruled a double, though it bounced off the top of the wall out in left-center field, hitting a billboard just above the outfield fence. Rogers stranded the only runner to reach base and completed a third clean frame at 50 pitches.

Eduardo Escobar left no doubt about his home run on an 89 MPH 2-1 fastball down (but not down enough) and in from Rogers in the first at-bat of the fourth, 1-0 NY.

A one-out single, on his 58th pitch, ended the left-hander’s outing in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rogers talked after the outing about whether the long span between his first start of the spring and last night’s appearance affected the results, but he said he’d been getting his work in, but getting back on the mound in a competitive atmosphere was good.

“I’ve been throwing on the back-field games,” Rogers explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after last night’s game.

“I’ve been facing our lineup and doing that, so that’s been good. But it’s always different getting under the lights, facing another team, another opponent.

“I felt really good about it. Definitely stuff to clean up, but all in all I think it was pretty decent.”