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Jordan makes strong first statement to open spring

Feb 28, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — It would have been easy for Taylor Jordan to take the mound Friday at Tradition Field, knowing he had the first opportunity of any pitcher battling for a spot on the Nationals roster this spring, and get caught up more in trying to impress decision-makers than simply pitch well.

The second-year right-hander, though, recognized from the beginning that wouldn’t help his cause at all, so his focus was in the right place in his Grapefruit League debut.

“I’m not going to push for something that’s not capable out of me,” he said. “I try to stay within myself. I don’t try to put too much pressure on myself. I just went out there trying to throw strikes. I wasn’t trying to throw a no-hitter or something.”

Two scoreless innings were more than a satisfactory first step for Jordan, who impressed during his brief time on the mound during the Nationals’ 5-4 exhibition win over the Mets.

Jordan was particularly efficient (16 of 21 pitches for strikes) and commanded his entire repertoire within the strike zone. Most notable: He recorded two strikeouts, each on changeups that fooled Mets hitters Ike Davis and Wilmer Flores.

“It helps a lot,” Jordan said of his effective changeup. “That’s the equalizer to my fastball. That changeup that just drops straight down, the change of speeds with it, it just complements my fastball.”

Jordan is one of three guys in the mix for the final spot in the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation and perhaps has been overlooked a bit compared to Ross Detwiler and Tanner Roark. The 25-year-old, though, showed what he’s capable of during his rookie season and returns this spring with that experience under his belt.

And with a strong performance to get his spring started, Jordan made his first statement toward securing a roster spot one month from now.

“Command of all three (pitches),” manager Matt Williams said. “Threw the ball well. More of the same that we’ve seen so far this spring. Aggressive within the strike zone and went after it.”

  1. Jacob Rasch - Feb 28, 2014 at 5:31 PM

    Jordan was but one of the stars for the Nats in what turned out to be a pretty compelling (for Spring Training) game. My full take here

    http://seriousjammage.com/2014/02/28/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-washington-nationals-spring-training-game-1/

    • nats128 - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:52 PM

      Nice read!

  2. letswin3 - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    I’ve been evaluating a sixth sense that won’t quite leave me alone this offseason. It has to do with Zack Walters. I have this hunch that, if Danny Espinosa doesn’t bring a much warmer bat to Spring Training, Walters could win the bench spot that generally has Danny’s name on it. I know some of you aren’t particularly enamored of Zack’s defense, but the guy can hit a little, hit for power and even steal a base. I got the courage to bring this up here only because I just read that he crushed it in his only 2 AB’s today. And, if Danny can’t do the job, who else fills that spot from within the organization? I guess they can go find someone in a trade, but maybe it’s time to consider Walters too. Is this just a pipe dream?

    • letswin3 - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      Oh, I forgot to mention that he’s also a switch-hitter, and his 2 doubles today were from opposite sides of the plate. A switch-hitter also makes it more difficult for pitching matchups.

    • therealjohnc - Feb 28, 2014 at 7:15 PM

      Pretty much a pipe dream. It’s not just Walters’s defense that’s a problem, his plate discipline stinks. Check out his K%, BB% and his OBP. Not good. It’s not that he can’t make it, although it’s hard to cure bad plate discipline. It’s really in Walters’s best interests to play every day and work on those aspects of his game. If Espinosa isn’t any better, look for Jamey Carroll to be the utility guy.

      • nats128 - Feb 28, 2014 at 8:55 PM

        For the Nats sake, Espinosa needs to be productive to get him traded for value. Walters is helping his cause too and he could be an intriguing trade to a AL team.

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