Feb 26, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — Taylor Jordan, among those competing for the final spot in the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation, will start their first exhibition game of the season.
Manager Matt Williams has tabbed the 25-year-old as his starter for Friday’s game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. There’s no hidden message to be revealed in that decision. The pitching schedule merely lined up for Jordan to start the Grapefruit League opener for both clubs.
Jordan will pitch two or three innings, Williams said, after which he’ll hand the game over to a Nationals bullpen that is expected to include highly rated prospect A.J. Cole plus relievers Christian Garcia, Xavier Cedeno, Manny Delcarmen and Aaron Barrett.
This will represent Jordan’s first opportunity to impress the Nationals’ coaching staff and make his case to beat out Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark for the final spot in the Opening Day rotation. He earned that opportunity following a whirlwind 2013 season that saw him open at Class A Potomac, reach the big leagues June 29 and then go 1-3 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts.
Jordan’s relative lack of experience perhaps leaves him behind the curve for most pitchers in the Nationals’ farm system, but Williams believes the right-hander can take a significant leap forward this year with the right mental approach.
“I just think he needs to trust himself and trust his stuff,” Williams said. “Because it’s good. It’s really good stuff. … Yeah, he has sped through the system, but there’s a reason for that: He’s a really good pitcher.”
Williams plans to bring a sizable number of regular major leaguers to Port St. Lucie for Friday’s game. His tentative starting lineup is…
RF Nate McLouth
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
DH Tyler Moore
LF Scott Hairston
CF Michael Taylor
(RHP Taylor Jordan)
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