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Roark, Jordan make Nats’ Opening Day roster with Fister out

Mar 29, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

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After competing with each other for six weeks for the Nationals’ fifth starter job, it turns out both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan have made the team’s Opening Day roster. It happened because of an injury to starter Doug Fister, but both Roark and Jordan are excited for the opportunity no matter the circumstances.

It feels great. Finally to get the answer, it feels really good. I’m very excited,” Roark said.

“I’m definitely happy to be here again this year,” Jordan said. “Especially out of spring training, that’s something I’m very proud of myself. It feels great to be here.”

Roark and Jordan entered spring in an open competition with Ross Detwiler for the job. Then Detwiler was removed from the running and sent to the bullpen on March 17. That left Roark and Jordan to compete over the final two weeks.

Having it drag on for over a month was taxing for both pitchers. They had to work towards the season with very different possibilities for their future in mind.

“At one point, it was like the middle of spring training I was wanting to know,” Roark said. “But it was the middle of spring training, you weren’t going to find out then. After that you just let it go and you can’t really worry about it. It’s not up to you.”

It is a competition but at the same time I still have to do the very best that I can,” Jordan said. “I didn’t really focus on the competition itself as of me actually doing as well as I can.”

Manager Matt Williams is happy to have both on board. He will likely have to choose between the two at some point, but for now both are with the Nationals for the foreseeable future.

Williams was glad to be able to give each the good news before the team headed north.

“They were both excited. They were both eager to prove themselves in spring. They really pitched well. We created this competition between the two of them and they both responded. Those are very good signs.”

With Fister recovering from a right lat strain, the Nationals’ rotation will proceed as follows:

March 31 vs. Mets – Stephen Strasburg

April 2 vs. Mets – Gio Gonzalez

April 3 vs. Mets – Jordan Zimmermann

April 4 vs. Braves – Tanner Roark

April 5 vs. Braves – Stephen Strasburg

April 6 vs. Braves – Taylor Jordan

That means Roark will start the home opener for the Nationals against the reigning NL East-champion Atlanta Braves. Roark was supposed to pitch in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Tigers, but it was canceled due to rain. Instead Roark threw a heavy bullpen session at Nationals Park to keep him on track for April 6.

Roark thinks he will be fine with the adjusted schedule.

I just threw a bullpen. Nothing you can do about it. You can’t control the weather so I’m not going to worry about it.”

Roark came up in August of last season and dazzled both out of the bullpen and as a starter. He finished the year 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA in 53 2/3 innings across 14 games. This spring he went 3-1 with a 3.29 ERA, earning the opportunity to start the home opener.

The day will surely be a big production at Nationals Park. They roll out the red carpet, players and coaches are introduced, and there is usually a flyover. It is not your usual afternoon game.

Roark understands that and thinks he’ll feel jitters no matter what he does between now and then.

“It’s still a big deal. I’m not going to tell you I won’t be nervous. If you’re not nervous, you’re not human. I’m excited for it. I’m glad I got the ball in the home opener.”

For his debut last season, Roark’s hometown of Wilmington, Illinois put on quite the watch party for him. Many of the town’s 5,700 people converged on his cul de sac to see the game on a big projector screen. Roark expects a similar situation on April 6.

“I’m sure there will be. I’m sure there will be a projector screen out in the cul de sac and they’ll get the road blocked out, cut off the cul de sac so nobody can drive through. It’s just one great, big get-together.

“It’s a small town of 5700 people so everybody knows everybody. I’m sure I’ll be getting tons of text messages and phone calls after the game and God knows what.”

  1. Eric - Mar 29, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    I’m assuming the 5th will be Jordan and the 6th Stras in the event that the season opener is rained out… Yes?

    • Section 222 - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      That would make sense, assuming you mean Taylor Jordan not Jordan Zimmerman.

      • Eric - Mar 29, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        I don’t know any of these guys so it’s generally safe to assume I’m operating on a last name basis ;)

      • Section 222 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:51 PM

        Except for Gio, of course.

      • Eric - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:57 PM

        Heh… True!

  2. Candide - Mar 29, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    So now we know how good Fister is. It takes two pitchers to replace him.

    • NatsNut - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:34 PM

      Like

  3. nats128 - Mar 29, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    James Wagner ” Manager Matt Williams has refused to name a starting second baseman, although the team has operated as if it will be Anthony Rendon. Both Rendon and Danny Espinosa are listed as infielders”

    • Eric - Mar 29, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      As is Frandsen…

      • cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 29, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        NOT a middle infielder … beyond second base he’s about adequate.

        In other words a version of Lombo with the grit and small ball aptitude but with a much better arm but the
        lesser offensively due to Lombo’s swtch-hitting bat useful for pinch hitting.

        Frandsen replaces Lombo but its unlikely he will ever be projected as a starter … a lot would have to happen for that to occur while Lombo was projected as a starter at second by Player Development.

      • sjm308 - Mar 29, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        Frasden played more games at first base then any other position last year.

    • Doc - Mar 29, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      Ol’ Matty is trying to fool us!

      We will not be fooled!

      Rendon is the starting 2B guy!

    • Section 222 - Mar 29, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      That’s kind of ridiculous. Good thing Rendon isn’t a head case like Espi.

      • naterialguy - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:10 PM

        There is no evidence whatsoever to backup that statement. I think Danny deserves better than that.

      • Section 222 - Mar 30, 2014 at 7:17 AM

        No evidence whatsoever? Really? Do you remember Batter’s Eye? How about concealing the wrist injury for a month? How about “they’re giving me a chance to win my job back”? Examples of excuses and bad attitude are legion. I’ve been intentionally quiet during the so-called “open competition,” but really, everyone’s always walking on egg shells with this guy. What about Rendon’s feelings? No one seems to worry about him, luckily, with good reason.

      • pdowdy83 - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:05 AM

        I seriously doubt no one is walking on eggshells around Espinosa. He didn’t actually hide the wrist injury. The doctors diagnosed it as something else and he tried to play because of that. How is mentioning them giving him a chance to win his job back drama? They’ve said all spring it was a competition.

        Most things about Danny have been blown way out of proportion by fans. There were no complaints about him other than his K rate until after the 2012 season. Then he became the whipping boy for anything that goes wrong. If you are going to rag on him at least go with some more viable reasons.

      • pdowdy83 - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:06 AM

        Eh that first sentence should have said anyone instead of no one. Edit button!

      • Section 222 - Mar 30, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        pdowdy, I have commented at length and giving many examples of Danny’s selfishness, including, especially, his continuing to play for two weeks when the wrist was still bothering him. I’m not going to repeat them again just to satisfy you. Feel free to search though. I’m glad he’s playing well enough to earn a bench spot. He did not earn a starting role. No way. But we can agree to disagree, and hope for the best of course.

  4. dgourds - Mar 29, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    You heard it here first–Tanner Roark will be the 2014 Rookie of the Year!

    • Melissa - Mar 29, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      He isn’t a rookie.

      • natsjackinfl - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        Good call.

      • dgourds - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:17 PM

        Oh man, you’re right. He pitched 3 too many innings last year to qualify.

    • Section 222 - Mar 29, 2014 at 7:26 PM

      Guess we heard it here last too. :-)

      • nats128 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:32 PM

        That is perfect comedic timing 222!

  5. Whynat - Mar 29, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Went down to the ballpark today. Drank a stadium beer, walked the concourse, shopped in the team store, tried out my ecash card. You know, just workin’ on some things. I feel like I’ve had a good spring, stayed healthy, Excited for the season to start.

    p.s. Beer prices have shifted: $8 is now $9, $9 is now $9.75.

    • Doc - Mar 29, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      Once the beer-gut is ready, you’re ready to play!

      Let the game begin!!

    • Candide - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      So $8 beer (didn’t think there was such a thing there any more) is up 12.5%.

      And $9 beer is up 8.3%.

      Looks like the only thing in the economy whose price is rising faster than college tuition is baseball beer. I guess there’s a message there…

  6. Joe Seamhead - Mar 29, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    No wonder beer sales are down across the country. I plan to drive down early to most games, park, bring a bottle of water with me, find my new favorite bar, drink a couple of my new favorite beers, go in to the stadium, get one more beer from one of the craft beer carts. $9 for a crappy beer? That comes out to $108. for a 12 pack of Miller Lite, or $9.75 equals $117 for a 12 pack of Heineken.I have a hard enough time dealing with the dough it costs us to go to 25-30 games a year, but they’ve about priced themselves out of what this old country boy can pay.

    • naterialguy - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:13 PM

      Two words. Flask flask.

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FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

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ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
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MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

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NL WILD CARD GAME
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NLDS
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