Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler and right-hander Craig Stammen received the news Tuesday that they had made the Nationals' opening day roster. Just one year ago, the pair had roomed together in Syracuse for the Triple-A Chiefs with hopes of working their way back to the majors.
That quest has been realized. Detwiler will be the Nationals fifth starter and Stammen will pitch out of the bullpen.
Stammen remembers the work they put in with the Chiefs for the opportunity to get back to D.C.
"Yeah, we had a lot of fun last year together," Stammen recalled. "I don't think either one of us would say last year was a bad thing. I think it was good for both of us building our character and becoming better baseball players. Some of that hard work paid off today."
Stammen said he has seen Detwiler mature as a baseball player and knows the long hours it took to earn a spot on the 25-man roster.
"I feel great for him," Stammen said. "He definitely deserves it. He is throwing the ball better than I have ever seen him throw it. It is unfortunate that John (Lannan) has to suffer from that. But that is the nature of the game. Unfortunately, baseball isn't always as fun as it was when we were kids. There is a business part of it at this level. That is the tough part about today."
Lannan was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse after the Nationals' 8-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox in spring training's final exhibition game.
Last season, Detwiler said living with Stammen in Syracuse meant a constant battle of restaurant choices on off nights and sharing strategies and stories of in-game pitches.
"It is great to see (Stammen) on the team," Detwiler said. "He has definitely put in a lot of work and obviously deserves it. It is one of those guys when your career is over you turn around and say this is the guy I came up with.
"He is the one I have fought with - at every single level we have been at we have pretty much been together. We have seen each other do very well and get a whole lot better."
General manager Mike Rizzo said Detwiler and Stammen earned their spots because they can pitch and their stuff kept them in D.C.
"Stammen earned a spot here," Rizzo said. "He performed. He is a really good relief pitcher for us. (Stammen) is a guy Davey (Johnson) likes as that long righty in the bullpen. With (Tom) Gorzelanny as the long left-hander in the bullpen, we feel we have really shored up that part of the bullpen. Stammen has got good stuff and he is a bulldog on the mound. He is not afraid in any situation."
Rizzo envisions Detwiler as the team's fifth starter, which means his first start will be next week at Citi Field in New York against the Mets.
"We think he is durable left-handed power starting pitcher with swing-and-miss stuff that has great upside," Rizzo said of Detwiler. "In a very small sample of major league starts, he has performed extremely well. We think that he is only scratching the surface. This guy finished the season extremely strong. He came into spring training and lit up the radar gun and performed terrifically."
So Stammen and Detwiler are together again on the same roster. Last year, it was the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. This season, both will be on the charter to Chicago as the Nationals open the 2012 season against the Cubs on Thursday, right where they wanted to be.