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MIA@WSH: Detwiler strikes out five over five innings

Ross Detwiler didn't necessarily expect to be in the Nationals' starting rotation, and Ruben Tejada didn't necessarily expect to be the Mets' leadoff hitter.

Both scenarios have come to fruition early this season, and both players will be on display in those roles Tuesday night when Washington takes on New York in a National League East matchup at Citi Field.

For Detwiler, the young left-hander who will be opposed by Mets righty Dillon Gee, the high-profile assignment is the product of a continuing progression. Detwiler, who turned 26 last month, was the sixth overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and has battled injuries.

But he had a good enough spring that he beat out veteran John Lannan, who was optioned to Triple-A, and now Detwiler is set for Tuesday.

"I look at it this way: Detwiler earned the job," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He deserved the job. It was a prudent baseball move for the current Nationals and the future Nationals. There are only five starters in the rotation, we have five guys that we feel that are better than [Lannan], and he has options left."

Detwiler said the whole development has been a pleasant surprise.

"I came to terms with going to the bullpen and being the long guy and waiting for an opportunity," Detwiler said. "It came up a whole lot quicker than I thought it would."

The same could be said for Tejada's position as the No. 1 hitter for the Mets. With outfielder Andres Torres on the disabled list, skipper Terry Collins needed someone reliable to step into the role and deliver. After a 4-for-5, two-RBI, two-run effort in Sunday's win over Atlanta and a 1-for-3 night with a double in Monday's win over the Nationals, Tejada has temporarily assumed the job.

"Obviously it's always nice for anybody to get four hits," Collins said. "But I think for Ruben to start to get his swing down is the most important thing. He's been hitting the ball in the air. That's not where he's going to make his living, hitting fly balls. He's a line-drive hitter. Yesterday [Sunday], he took much better swings at the plate, and that's where I thought the at-bats yesterday were very, very important for him.

"He's starting to get in that routine of getting balls he can get on base with. That's the thing we saw last year in the second half of the season that he did. He used the field to hit. He didn't hit one home run last year but we know he's got some power. But he stayed on top of the ball much better and I think if he does that, he's got great hand-eye coordination and I think he's going to be a good hitter."

Nationals: Morse getting closer
Outfielder Michael Morse, who is on the disabled list because of strained right lat (back) muscle, went 2-for-4 with a run scored in nine innings for Class A Hagerstown on Monday. Morse is slated to play nine innings for the same team Tuesday, and should rejoin the Nationals in time for their home opener against the Reds on Thursday afternoon. Morse is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday, but manager Davey Johnson said he didn't want to rush him back.

• Nationals closer Drew Storen experienced right elbow pain after throwing a simulated game on Sunday at the team's complex in Viera, Fla., and will visit Dr. James Andrews to have the elbow re-examined. "Hopefully, it's nothing serious, but it doesn't sound good to me," Johnson said. With Storen out indefinitely, Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge will split the closer's role.

• Rick Ankiel (tight left quadriceps) is expected to be back with the team by the end of the week and will likely be inserted as the primary center fielder.

Mets: Gee kicks off 2012 campaign
Gee was a surprise 13-game winner for the Mets in 2011 and will get his first start of the 2012 season in Tuesday's game. He has done well at Citi Field in his young career, with a 7-5 record and a 3.02 ERA there in 18 games (16 starts). Gee is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his career against Washington. The last time he faced the Nationals was last Sept. 14 at Citi Field. Gee allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision.

• Reliever Manny Acosta had a 2.31 ERA (six earned runs in 23 1/3 innings) vs. National League East opponents last season. Over his two years with the Mets, Acosta has compiled a 1.82 ERA (10 earned runs in 49 1/3 innings) against NL East opponents.

• Third baseman David Wright is four career RBIs away from the franchise lead. Darryl Strawberry is the current leader, with 733.

Worth noting
• Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring, has been throwing off the mound and is expected to return to the Nationals by late April or early May. That could push Detwiler back to the bullpen as a long reliever.

• After June 22 last year, Mets outfielder Lucas Duda hit .317 (82-for-259) with 19 doubles, 10 home runs and 46 RBIs over his final 80 games. His .317 average was eighth-best in the NL among players with at least 250 at-bats from that time span through the end of the year. Comments