Johnson talks Detwiler, Harper, Perry

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Had the rain postponed today’s game between the Nationals and Braves, Ross Detwiler’s pitching schedule would have gotten thrown all out of whack.

Detwiler was scheduled to start today and then get one more outing with the Nats on March 3 before joining Team USA for the World Baseball Classic on March 4.

If the rain that fell heavily from about 12:30 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. had forced a postponement and not just a one-hour delay, the Nationals would have needed to shuffle their pitching schedule to make sure Detwiler went into the WBC with enough innings under his belt.

“It was really big,” said manager Davey Johnson, when asked how important it was for Detwiler to get in a few innings today. “It would really mess the schedule up if he didn’t get out there. Because I think the last day, we have an off-day before he goes. He would’ve had to come back (on short rest) and that wouldn’t have been good. So, perfect.”

Detwiler’s outing wasn’t perfect, but he was pretty solid over his 2 2/3 innings. The left-hander threw 41 pitches and struck out two, allowing two runs on five hits.

“I thought Det threw the ball good,” Johnson said. “I was impressed. I think he threw about 40 pitches, but it was a good outing. Good first outing. Real pleased.”

Johnson, who is on a quest to get Detwiler to throw more off-speed pitches, must’ve liked what he saw in that regard today. Detwiler estimated that eight of his 41 pitches were off-speed, including about five curveballs (by my count), one that froze Jason Heyward for strike three in the first inning.

“He’s got a lot of weapons,” Johnson said. “Doesn’t need to just stay with the fastball. He’s got other options. Makes the fastball that (much) better.”

Like Detwiler, Johnson was pleased with the fact that the Braves ran out a number of their starting position players today. The tough lineup allowed Detwiler to get in a few innings in a competitive atmosphere, which is tough to get in February.

“Yeah, I think it was good. Lets him know where he’s at,” Johnson said.

Bryce Harper went 3-for-3 with two doubles today, making him 6-for-8 in three spring appearances. The 20-year-old appears to be in midseason form already.

“I wasn’t worried about Bryce,” Johnson said. “He’s all-in. I had him out of the lineup tomorrow to rest him. He said, ‘What am I doing out of the lineup? I want in the lineup.’ So I’m already getting it.”

So did Harper talk his way into tomorrow’s lineup?

“He’s in,” Johnson said with a smile.

Ryan Perry got roughed up in the fifth inning, allowing four hits and five runs, two of which came around after he left the game.

“I thought he was out of gas,” Johnson said. “He had the 16 pitches through an inning and a third. He looked like he was out of gas and he even admitted it to (pitching coach Steve McCatty). He said, ‘Out of gas? He’s a starter.’ But we’re going to stay with him, stretch him out.

“He had a good season (last year), he had a good winter. No big deal. Learning experience.”

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