VIERA, Fla. - Ross Detwiler surely didn’t envision getting moved into a relief role this spring, but that’s now where he finds himself.
The Nationals left-hander learned on Monday that instead of continuing his battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, manager Matt Williams had decided to move him to the bullpen, this after he had been a member of the team’s starting rotation for the bulk of 2012 and all of last year up until being sidelined by injury.
Detwiler is scheduled to work one inning today in relief of Taylor Jordan, one of the candidates for the No. 5 spot that Detwiler is no longer competing for. Detwiler might not be pleased with this turn of events, but he said today he’s doing his best to stay focused on the task at hand.
“I still have to pitch and get outs,” Detwiler told reporters. “I can’t really dwell on the negatives. You’ve got to take as many positives out of it as you can. I’ve got to go out there and prove I can get outs. ...
“I’m just focusing on going out there tonight. I’ve got to throw tonight, so there’s no sense taking any of that (disappointment) out to the mound. Then I hurt myself and not perform.”
Detwiler came into camp trying to prove that he was healthy after a back injury caused him to miss the second half of last season. He felt like he had done that, and while his spring numbers weren’t anything to get too excited about - he posted a 6.43 ERA in three spring starts spanning seven innings - he felt like he was getting stronger and progressing as the season neared.
“I’m healthy. I thought I was throwing the ball well,” Detwiler said. “But that’s kind of for you guys to decide, how I’m doing.”
In his career, Detwiler has a 4.02 ERA and 1.395 WHIP as a starter, and a strong 1.11 ERA and 1.052 WHIP in 16 relief appearances. While his 1.53-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a reliever isn’t ideal, he has succeeded in the bullpen before, and he fills a hole when it comes to Williams wanting a left-handed long reliever on the roster.
That said, it remains to be seen how Detwiler will be used in relief. In the past, he worked a starter’s schedule even in the bullpen, often getting four or more days off in between appearances. So will that now be adjusted?
“I was always on a five-day schedule, a four- or five-day schedule,” Detwiler said. “So I’ve never gone too close. But you figure when you start, you have one day off and then a bullpen. So maybe I can bounce back that way? We’ll see.”
Regardless, just because Detwiler is now working in relief, it doesn’t change his goals of wanting to be a member of the Nats starting rotation. He’ll do what the Nats ask of him, and hope that he can find a way to carve out a meaningful role on this roster.
“Yeah, I still view myself as a starter,” Detwiler said. “But I’m not going to go out there and hope somebody does bad or somebody gets hurt. We’re in it to win. And I think it’s going to hurt worse if we don’t win the whole thing this year.”