Mar 19, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — Ross Detwiler isn’t happy about the Nationals’ decision to move him to the bullpen. That much was clear as the left-hander discussed his situation this afternoon for the first time since getting the news on Monday.
Detwiler, though, insists he won’t let dissatisfaction with his role affect his performance once he takes the mound as a reliever for the first time tonight against the Astros.
“I’m just focusing on going out there tonight,” he said. “I’ve got to throw tonight, so there’s no sense taking any of that out to the mound. Then I hurt myself and not perform.”
Informed on Monday by pitching coach Steve McCatty he was no longer in the running for the open No. 5 spot in the Nationals’ Opening Day rotation and would instead begin the season pitching out of the bullpen, Detwiler has had 48 hours to contemplate a switch he insisted never crossed his mind when he arrived in Viera a month ago.
“No, I was just focusing on going out there and pitching, getting healthy, getting stronger,” he said. “Stretching myself out and being able to go wherever they told me to go.”
After an injury-plagued 2013, Detwiler’s primary focus this spring was proving his back was 100 percent healthy and no longer a concern. Once it was clear that wasn’t an issue, the 28-year-old began building up his arm and stretching himself out believing he’d need to be ready to pitch six or more innings once the regular season began.
Now he must learn how to adapt to a new routine, one that could eventually require him to pitch on back-to-back days for the first time in his career. Though he has spent time in the bullpen in the past, Detwiler always remained on something of a starter’s schedule, getting several days off between appearances.
The Nationals haven’t told him yet how he’ll be used in this bullpen stint, but he recognizes it likely will require some adjustments.
“I’m not real sure, because like I said they haven’t told me exactly what my role is going to be,” he said. “I think that’s one thing we address once they tell me exactly where I’m going to fit in.”
With a pair of inexperienced right-handers (Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan) and a veteran with a significant injury history (Chris Young) still in the mix for the final spot in the Nationals’ rotation, Detwiler very well could find himself summoned back to a starter’s job somewhere along the way.
Detwiler made it clear he wants to start again, though he also made it clear he’ll do whatever the Nationals believe is best for the club’s overall fortunes.
“Yeah, I still view myself as a starter,” he said. “But I’m not going to go out there and hope somebody does bad or somebody gets hurt. We’re in it to win. And I think it’s going to hurt worse if we don’t win the whole thing this year.”
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