Saturday, March 29, 2014
Fister on DL; Tigers-Nationals game rained out
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg and Taylor Jordan were selected by the Washington Nationals in the 2009 amateur draft. While Strasburg was the first name off the board, Jordan was the first player picked eight rounds later.
When they met for the first time that summer, during fielding drills, Jordan wasn't awed by Strasburg's reputation.
"He comes up to me, `I thought you were left-handed," Strasburg said. "He's an interesting guy."
Jordan learned Saturday that he will open the season with Strasburg in Washington's starting rotation. Jordan replaces injured Doug Fister, placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle on the right side of his upper back. The move is retroactive to March 23.
The Nationals made the announcement in finalizing their opening day roster after their scheduled exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers was canceled because of rain.
Also in the rotation is right-hander Tanner Roark, who will start the home opener Friday against the Atlanta Braves.
"It's definitely a huge opportunity," Roark said. "I'm going to do what I can and go out there, get outs, put up zeros and attack hitters."
Jordan is set to start April 6 against the Braves.
Jordan and Roark are the surprise additions to the rotation for the Nationals, who entered the spring expecting Fister and Ross Detwiler to fill the back end behind Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. Detwiler is healthy, but will begin the season in the bullpen.
"I think they proved themselves in the spring," manager Matt Williams said. "They really pitched well. We created this competition between the two of them and they both responded. Those are very good signs."
Injuries forced the 25-year-old Jordan and 27-year-old Roark into the rotation as rookies last summer. Despite going 1-3 in nine starts, Jordan showed promise with a 3.66 ERA before he was shut down in August as a precaution following Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Roark pitched in relief in August and took a slot in the rotation in September, finishing 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA.
"Very different how they go about their business," Strasburg said of the rotation newcomers. "But they're both extremely talented. I think they both worked really hard to get to this point. They're both kind of the guys that were the odd man out, always going up through the minors."
Fister will be shut down for five days before resuming his rehabilitation. The right-hander, obtained in an offseason trade with Detroit, is expected to miss anywhere from three weeks to 30 days, Williams said.
"It's whatever we can do to get him back to full strength so that when he steps on the mound for us, he's ready to go," Williams said. "It's a little bit of a moving target."
Fister was hampered by elbow inflammation early in spring training. Williams said the lat injury was unrelated.
"It's more a precaution than anything," Williams said. "I don't think it had anything to do with the elbow. Elbow has been fine thus far since he first had the inflammation. It's just one of those things."
After a morning of light rain, with heavier rain forecast later in the afternoon, the game was called at its scheduled 2 p.m. start time.
It was to be the final exhibition game for both teams. Detroit begins the season Monday at home against the Kansas City Royals. Washington travels to New York for its opener Monday against the Mets.
The scheduled starting pitchers Saturday were Roark and Anibal Sanchez.
Sanchez, slotted to pitch Thursday against the Royals, will throw a simulated game Sunday in Detroit, according to Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. Instead of the 80-85 pitches Sanchez was set to throw Saturday, he will throw about 50 on Sunday in the simulated game.
Williams said Roark would throw a "heavy bullpen" on Saturday.
The Tigers announced that outfielder Andy Dirks was put on the disabled list with a back injury. To take his place, Tyler Collins was recalled from Double-A Erie. Detroit also announced that shortstop Jose Iglesias (shin) and pitcher Bruce Rondon (elbow) have been placed on the 60-day DL.