VIERA, Fla. - Ross Detwiler was on normal rest yesterday, but the Nationals left-hander didn’t get the call during Team USA’s 3-1 loss to the Dominican Republic in last night’s World Baseball Classic.
Team USA starter R.A. Dickey went five innings in the loss, so there wasn’t much need for another multiple-inning guy. Manager Joe Torre went to five different relievers last night, none of whom worked more than 1 1/3 innings.
The Americans will have an elimination game against Puerto Rico tonight, but Detwiler isn’t guaranteed to appear in this game, either. Team USA announced that Giants righty Ryan Vogelsong will get the start tonight.
We’ll see if Detwiler sees any action in a must-win game for both Team USA and Puerto Rico, with the winner taking the final spot in the WBC semifinals out in San Francisco.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel allowed just seven runs all of last season and never more than one run in a single outing. Last night, Kimbrel - whose stuff Bryce Harper referred to as “absolute fuego” last year - gave up two in the ninth, and the Dominicans celebrated a big win.
And boy, did they ever celebrate.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Michael Morse went 3-for-3 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs yesterday. Morse has five homers and 10 RBIs with the Mariners this spring, and has posted a slash line of .355/.400/.935.
The man can hit a baseball. This much we know.
The Nationals will head to Jupiter this morning for another road game against the Cardinals. Dan Haren is the unfortunate Nationals starter who has to make the lengthy road trip today.
Haren will make his fourth start of spring, and will have Yunesky Maya and Ryan Mattheus pitching behind him. Erik Davis and Jeremy Accardo will also make the trip for the Nats.
Kurt Suzuki, Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore and Chad Tracy are the only position players set to make the 25-man roster that will be on the trip. Suzuki is scheduled to bat second behind Lombardozzi, who will lead off.
Micah Owings will get the start in left field for the Nats, and he’ll look to continue a solid spring that has seen him record five extra-base hits in just 19 at-bats. Owings, a former pitcher attempting to reinvent himself as a position player, is slugging .842 on the spring after crushing a grand slam to the opposite field yesterday, a no-doubter that led the Nationals to a 6-3 win over the Astros.
Yesterday, I passed along quotes from Davey Johnson, who said that he’s been impressed with Owings this spring, both offensively and in the way that the 30-year-old has adapted to playing left field, a relatively new position for him.
Asked yesterday whether his success thus far has validated his decision to become a full-time position player, Owings paused for a second.
“I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “I feel like I’m up for the task. I know it’s going to take a lot of continued work. I don’t want to get into a mode where I feel comfortable. So I want to continue to work and learn from these guys and see what happens.”
Owings has put in some work with hitting coach Rick Eckstein this camp, but he’s also relied on his younger brother, Jon Mark, a former minor league outfielder, who has helped fine-tune his swing. The Owings brothers spent a lot of time this season working on Micah’s approach, specifically getting his front foot down quickly, allowing him to be ready to adjust to whatever pitch is coming.
The defensive side of things has also been a work in progress, but Owings has been working with outfield instructor Tony Tarasco, taking part in drills to help acclimate himself to a new position.
Johnson admitted yesterday that the Nats probably won’t have much need for Owings at the big league level this season given the depth that they have within the organization at first base and the corner outfield spots. On top of that, Owings has to just get more at-bats under his belt and get further acclimated to left field and first base. That would all seem to indicate a somewhat lengthy stint in the minors, but Owings says he isn’t focused on that side of things.
“Right now, it’s kind of been my approach in my career not to think too long-term at all,” Owings said. “Come in each day and get ready for whatever I can do to help the team that day and whatever I can do to get better. I’m going to continue to keep that focus and enjoy it. I’m having fun being in there getting the opportunities I’ve been given.”