Scott Olsen's first foray into relief pitching could not have gone better on Monday. The left-hander, who was removed from the starting rotation over the weekend, pitched four no-hit innings, got a win after losing six straight decisions and looked as sharp as he has since coming off the disabled list in July.
But that did little to cheer up the left-hander, who said little and smiled less when talking to reporters after the game.
"Obviously, I don't want to be in the bullpen," Olsen said. "I'd rather start. But that's not what they want me to do."
Olsen could get a chance to start again this season, manager Jim Riggleman has said, but his 1-6 record and 8.72 ERA as a starter since returning from left shoulder inflammation doesn't help his case. The Nationals also have a logjam in the rotation, and are trying to find a day for Ross Detwiler to start, so getting Olsen more work in the rotation could be tough.
He adapted fine on Monday; Riggleman had him up and throwing in the first inning as Jordan Zimmermann struggled, and gave him plenty of notice he would be relieving Zimmermann. But Olsen said he's always played long toss from 140 feet before his starts, which he can't do anymore.
"The biggest difference is not being able to throw 140 feet before I get on the mound," Olsen said. "That's not going to work. I don't get on the mound unless I play long toss. That's the biggest difference."
Riggleman praised Olsen for his work on Monday, while acknowledging that relieving is probably "not something that he's fired up to do." The left-hander is entering his final year of arbitration; he had a $1 million base salary and incentives that will likely double that this season, and it seems unlikely the Nationals would bring him back when their rotation is already crowded.
If another team offered Olsen a chance to start, he might prefer that, anyway.
"I'd like to start," Olsen said. "I don't want to be a bullpen guy."