LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Knowing he only gets to make two Grapefruit League starts before he appears in a competitive ballgame in the World Baseball Classic, Ross Detwiler had to take a slightly different approach to his first exhibition outing than other members of the Nationals rotation might.
"I was just in a competitive game," Detwiler said after facing the Braves for 2 2/3 innings. "You saw the lineup they put out there today. I could've been embarrassed pretty easily. I think this helped me out a lot, seeing a lot of their top guys. It makes you focus on keeping the ball down, because any one of these guys can hit the ball a mile."
If Detwiler was looking for a good tune-up for his scheduled March 9 appearance in the WBC, he couldn't have asked for a better opportunity: A Feb. 26 start against an Atlanta lineup featuring six regulars, including Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and both Upton brothers.
And the left-hander certainly was happy with the results, especially his first two innings, which required only 29 pitches to complete. During that time, Detwiler showed off several knee-buckling curveballs, including one that locked up Heyward for a called third strike.
He's not completely ready yet for Team Italy in Phoenix, but he's on the right track.
"It's going to be a short road until I'm in the WBC," he said. "So I'm pretty happy to face those hitters."
Detwiler nearly didn't get the opportunity to pitch at all today. With severe thunderstorms rolling through the entire state of the Florida, the status of the game was in serious jeopardy. They did manage to get started after a 1-hour delay, a relief to the lefty, who tried not to worry about the weather.
"Any time you try to set a schedule in stone, they're going to try to mess with it," he said. "You can't ever have the mentality that it's going to get canceled. You've got to be ready for whatever time they tell you the game's going to start. If you ever have in the back of your mind it might get canceled, you kind of let down a little bit and you don't have as good stuff."