Viera, Fla. – The Nationals will now have two members of their starting rotation pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic after left-hander Ross Detwiler found out Tuesday morning he will be joining teammate Gio Gonzalez on squad.
“Joe Torre and Marcel Lachemann called Davey and ask if we would be okay with Ross pitching in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA,” said Nats General Manager Mike Rizzo. “Like I have said all along, we feel like it’s our duty and obligation to put the best team forward we can for Team USA. We are honored that they want two of our starting pitchers to pitch for Team USA and we are flattered about it and I know Ross is really fired up about it and he wanted to do it.”
Last year, in his first full major league campaign, Detwiler went 10-8 with an ERA of 3.40. He was very impressive in the post-season against the Cardinals in game four of the National League Divisional Series throwing 6 innings while giving up three hits and one unearned run.
Detwiler said he got a text message from Tony Clark, the director of player relations with the MLB Players’ Association, asking if he was interested in playing but he was sleeping and didn’t see the text until Tuesday morning.
“I knew I had to go to Cat (Pitching coach Steve McCatty) and Davey and Riz with it,” Detwiler said. “When I got here I went over it with them and got the okay from them because they have schedules and they know what they want me to do, where they want me to be, when we are breaking camp. The little kid in me wanted to say ‘Yes’ right away without thinking it through but I came in, we thought it through and it was still a ‘Yes.'”
Getting a chance to play for Torre also presents a good opportunity for Detwiler. “I still remember him from when I was growing up in St. Louis when he managed them before he went over to the Yankees,” he said. “He was the manager I watched every night and now to be able to be in the same uniform and on the same bench as him, you grow up dreaming about stuff like that.
“I was really excited to do it. To get to represent my country in a baseball uniform, there is nothing better than that.”
Zimmerman coming along
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman continues his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.
Zimmerman took part in drills Tuesday and was throwing under the watchful eye of skipper Davey Johnson. Zimmerman was throwing from about 75 feet and Johnson liked what he saw.
“Great. He looked natural, free and easy,” Johnson said.
Johnson indicated there will be some time at DH for Zimmerman during spring training since even National League clubs use the DH in their games until about mid-March. The plan is to move him along slowly to make sure he is ready to go by opening day.
“I’m still a couple of weeks away from being out there and being able to do what I want,” Zimmerman said. “That’s kind of by design. We are going slow on purpose since we have a month-and-a-half down here to do something, but it’s coming along just as it should. There have been no setbacks, no kind of surprises, everything is right on schedule and that’s kind of the way we planned it.”
Zimmerman also wanted to reassure everyone he will indeed be ready for opening day.
“I’ll play in the same amount of games I always play in down here,” he said. “I need about 50 at-bats and that’s about it so, fortunately for me, I don’t need a lot of at-bats and we will have plenty of time to get my normal work load in down here.”