Nationals setting up rotation order

Nationals setting up rotation order
March 16, 2013, 5:45 pm
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VIERA, Fla. -- With Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler set to rejoin the club following Team USA's elimination from the World Baseball Classic, the Nationals are able to begin setting their starting rotation for the regular season.

Without fully confirming the order his five starters will pitch to open the season, manager Davey Johnson essentially revealed Stephen Strasburg will be followed by Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler.

The only moderate surprise there is the use of Haren in the No. 4 spot and Detwiler in the No. 5 spot. The two hurlers had been aligned the opposite way earlier this spring, fully breaking up the Nationals' two left-handed starters.

Johnson, though, seems to be deferring to Haren's veteran status in starting him ahead of Detwiler.

"It's just basically we have him a little ahead of Det in experience," the manager said.

In order to get the rotation lined up the way they want -- and in order to work both Gonzalez and Detwiler back into the mix following the WBC -- the Nationals will do a little juggling over the next few days. Detwiler will now start tomorrow's game against the Tigers in Lakeland, his first game appearance in eight days.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, will face minor leaguers on Monday and likely won't appear in another Grapefruit League game until March 24 against the Braves. The 21-game winner has not yet rejoined the Nationals, choosing instead to remain at home in Miami in the wake of the WBC, but he's expected to report back to Viera either tomorrow or Monday.

Detwiler was back in the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium today and spoke glowingly about his experience pitching in the international event.

"A lot of people just use spring training to get in shape and get ready for the regular season," he said. "But we were actually competing out there, and it was meaningful to everyone. It was good to get a bunch of guys together and see how the crowd rallied behind the USA. It was awesome. ... I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

With Detwiler taking over the rotation slot originally occupied by Gonzalez, and with Gonzalez slated to face minor leaguers, the Nationals will let veteran Chris Young start at least one more Grapefruit League game and perhaps another after that.

Young, in camp on a minor-league deal, already started two games while Detwiler was gone and now will get a chance to make another impression Wednesday against the Marlins and possibly on March 25 against the Astros.

The Nationals are hoping Young ultimately will report to Class AAA Syracuse and serve as insurance in case a member of the Opening Day rotation gets hurt, but the 33-year-old right-hander has a clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent starting March 24.