Zuckerman talks about Nats' woes
In need of a long reliever with the ability to start if called upon, the Nats selected right-hander Tanner Roark from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday. Roark will fulfill the role of Ross Ohlendorf who is on the 15-day disabled list (retro to Aug. 1) with shoulder inflammation.
Ross Detwiler was also transferred to the 60-day disabled list with a lower back strain and lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno was sent back down to Triple-A.
Roark, 26, is up in the majors for the first time in his career and was told of the decision on Sunday night. Though excited to finally realize his dream, Roark wasn’t allowed to tell many people for fear the news would get out.
“I was told to keep it quiet,” he said. “I was doing my best to keep it quiet. I told my parents and told them to keep it quiet. I told my fiancé, that was about it.”
Acquired by the Nats in a 2010 trade with the Texas Rangers, Roark was thriving at Syracuse with a 9-3 record and a 3.15 ERA through 105 2/3 innings. He made 11 starts and 22 relief appearances, flashing a versatility that he’ll likely use at the major level.
“He can do both,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s been throwing the ball good, Spin [Williams] really liked him. He fits well.”
The Nationals may need a starter in a few weeks when Taylor Jordan hits his innings limit. He is said to have three or four starts left and, with Ohlendorf and Detwiler rehabbing, Roark could see his role expanded if the opportunity arises. Johnson said Roark would be a viable option in that scenario.
Roark said unforeseen circumstances helped him get back into the rotation this season.
“Early on in the year we had a bunch of rainouts, we had doubleheaders, so I was throwing in the first or second game,” he said. “I was doing okay and then I found my way back into the starting rotation. I was starting again.”
Being a relief pitcher may have helped Roark as a starter, he says.
“I think it’s just attacking, it’s what I got out of the bullpen. Then what I’ve brought I guess as a starter, is to keep attacking. Keep pressure on them, keep the hitter off balance. Just pounding the strike zone.”
Roark described his approach and how he’s improved his ERA after having a 4.00-plus mark over the last two seasons in simple terms.
“I really found my groove last year. Just staring at the glove, just looking at the catcher’s glove. Look and throw, through my windup and my stretch. Just looking at the glove and throwing whatever pitch to that glove.”
Roark pitched 6 1/3 innings on Friday night in a start for the Chiefs, so he’s not expected to make his debut until Wednesday night or later.