Detwiler, Garcia ready to pitch, regardless of roles

Ross Detwiler probably will be the first of the Nationals’ contingent to arrive in Viera, Fla., for spring training.

He leaves Sunday.

“It’s nine degrees at home” in St. Louis, Detwiler said at NatsFest on Saturday. “I can’t get outside.”

Temperatures in the 20s and 30s in Washington, D.C., are balmy by comparison - warm enough that Detwiler has been hoofing it around town since arriving Friday.

The left-hander went 10-8 with a 3.40 ERA in 33 games, including 27 starts, last year and figured he’d cemented himself a spot in the Nats’ rotation. Then the Nationals went out and signed free agent righty Dan Haren, and scuttlebutt persists that general manager Mike Rizzo might be interested in former Expo Javier Vazquez, who will pitch for Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic before deciding his future.

“I don’t follow any of it,” Detwiler said. “I get away from it just so I don’t have to answer those questions and have those thoughts.”

So chatter that his rotation spot might be in jeopardy or that he’s bound for the bullpen to fill a need for a southpaw doesn’t even register for the 26-year-old.

“I’d like to be a starter,” he said, “but if they see me as a better fit in the bullpen - I want to help the team win, that’s the goal. I’d rather be a reliever on a good team than a starter on a bad team.”

While Detwiler’s role seems fairly assured heading into camp, Christian Garcia’s is less clear.

Garcia was a revelation as a late-inning power arm down the stretch in 2012, working to a 2.13 ERA in 13 regular season games and posting a 3.38 ERA in two postseason outings.

The Nationals plan to stretch Garcia out as a starter during spring training. He’ll end up in either the Triple-A Syracuse rotation or working in relief in D.C.

Either is fine with Garcia, who has twice battled back from Tommy John ligament reconstruction surgery and is finally in the mix for a big league job at 27.

“It’s different for the fact that I don’t have to rehab anything,” Garcia said Saturday. “It’s the one time I can really focus on getting stronger and getting my body ready for 162 games instead of always having to rehab my elbow. I get to, for the first time, put 100 percent toward getting stronger.”

Garcia has been working out in Tampa at the Performance Compound with teammate Tyler Clippard and ex-Nats pitcher John Lannan.

“I train pretty much until I can’t go any more,” he said, adding that it’s such an intense workout that it would take too long to explain to reporters.

He’s focused on helping the Nationals, in whatever role manager Davey Johnson, pitching coach Steve McCatty and general manager Mike Rizzo deem appropriate. But his eyes are definitely trained on helping out the big league club.

“I got to have an experience, I got a taste of it, so I got to know what it feels like,” he said. “Being in the playoffs and falling short makes you want more and it gives you that extra drive to want to keep going. ... Now I know next year, coming up to spring training, I have an opportunity to win a job.”

After jumping from Double-A to Triple-A to the majors in 2012, Garcia is aware he could be a swingman, filling different needs at Syracuse and Washington in 2013.

“They’re my boss,” he said. “I got to do what they tell me to do. At the end of the day, I follow directions. I’m going to go in there and compete for a job, whether it’s starting or relieving, do the best I can and whatever happens happens.”

But if Garcia had his druthers, late-inning relief would be his pick.

“Late-inning relieving, I love it,” he said. “I love the pressure, that’s what I like. I love that kind of stuff, that’s just the kind of person I am.”

The trip to D.C. for NatsFest also gave the Miami-area native his first chance to see snow. Though Friday’s dusting was pedestrian, it was enough for the right-hander to fashion into a snowball, which he promptly directed at Clippard.

“I’ve never gotten to see snow. ... I live in Miami. We never see snow,” he laughed.

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