3/23/2014 7:45 P.M. ET
Roark makes his case for fifth spot in rotation
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark showed Sunday that he should be strongly considered for the fifth spot in the rotation. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowed a run on two hits and struck out five in a 3-1 loss to the Mets.
Roark threw 73 pitches and 18 more in a bullpen session after the game. There are no more starts this spring for Roark, and manager Matt Williams said the right-hander has done enough to be in the rotation. Roark is competing against Taylor Jordan and Chris Young for the final spot.
Roark had a 3.29 ERA in four games this spring and that's not including the five-plus innings he pitched in a Minor League game against the Tigers. Roark will be on the team no matter what happens. If he is not in the rotation, Roark will be in the bullpen.
"He has been pretty good," Williams said. "He has made a very good case [to be in the rotation]. We'll get a good look at Taylor again. Yes, Tanner has made a very strong case."
Williams not worried about Storen's struggles
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Reliever Drew Storen has allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings this spring. In Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Mets, Storen allowed a two-run homer to Curtis Granderson in the seventh inning. Storen didn't finish the inning and was replaced by Ryan Mattheus, who was able to strike out Anthony Recker to end the inning.
Manager Matt Williams said he took Storen out of the game because he didn't want him to throw a lot of pitches. He is scheduled to pitch against the Marlins on Monday.
"He still has to [pitch] back-to-back [games] still," Williams said. "Ordinarily, you leave him in that inning. We didn't want him to throw too many pitches [against the Mets].
"Any time a hitter gets in an advantageous count, it's to their advantage, regardless of who is out there. That was just the case today."
Nationals get call overturned, then score a run
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals manager Matt Williams decided to take advantage of instant replay twice on Sunday afternoon, and he was able to get one of the calls reversed in a 3-1 loss to the Mets.
After singling with one out in the top of the first inning, Bryce Harper attempted to steal second and was thrown out by catcher Anthony Recker. However, Williams went to second-base umpire James Hoye and asked him to look at the replay.
"I went out to talk to the umpire and looked back into the dugout. [Bench coach] Randy [Knorr] gave me the yell and said, 'I thinks he is safe,'" Williams said.
The replay showed that Recker's throw beat Harper to the bag, but second baseman Daniel Murphy tagged Harper when he was already on the base. After one minute and 48 seconds, Hoye reversed the call and Harper was credited with a stolen base.
It was the first time the Nationals were able to get a call reversed because of instant replay. After he went to third on a wild pitch, Harper scored on an infield single by Ryan Zimmerman.
Williams believes that similar plays like the one involving Harper will be challenged more often than not.
"That's the hardest one because the ball clearly beat him, but what happens when the infielder dictates whether [the runner] is out or safe?" Williams said. "With the naked eye, you could make an argument either way, but understanding that he is going to pick the ball out of the dirt and come up before he [puts the glove] down, then you have a shot there."
Williams tried to get another call reversed in the ninth inning. Adrian Sanchez hit a slow roller to shortstop Ruben Tejada, who threw Sanchez out on a close play. Williams then asked the umpires to look at the play. It took the umpires 57 seconds to realize that Sanchez was indeed out.
"[Sanchez] was clearly out, but we have one [challenge] left because we had the first one right," Williams said. "We figure we use it there. You never know. [Lucas Duda] may have come off the bag even though the ball beat [Sanchez]. So we figure we use it."
Rendon dealing with chest cold, stays in Viera
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon is still dealing with a bad chest cold, but he was able to do baseball activities Sunday morning. He was able to long toss and take batting practice before the team left for Port St. Lucie.
There is no timetable as to when Rendon will play in a Grapefruit League or exhibition game, but manager Matt Williams said Rendon will be ready for Opening Day. Rendon is likely the Opening Day second baseman, although Williams declined to name his starting second baseman.
"He is getting better. He had a really bad chest cold. He is being treated with antibiotics. He did a little work today. It's a pretty nasty chest cold," Williams said. "We'll monitor him every day. He stayed back [in Viera]."
Fister feels good after scoreless outing
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Manager Matt Williams said right-hander Doug Fister is doing well a day after pitching 3 2/3 innings without giving up a run against the Marlins on Saturday afternoon. It was Fister's first game since March 2. He missed most of Spring Training because of inflammation in his right elbow. His next start will most likely be Thursday against the Mets.
Fister is expected to throw 60 to 65 pitches in the game. He could pitch in a Minor League game before his regular season gets started. Fister's first regular-season game could be April 6 against the Braves.
"After yesterday, he came in today and didn't report any soreness. Nothing other than normal soreness that any pitcher would have," Williams said. "I would hope that he is ready to go [by Opening Day]. The more you push him, the more things can creep up. Today's report was good. We'll progress him. Hopefully, the next one is good, too."
• The Nationals brought their entire roster, except their starting pitchers and infielder Anthony Rendon, to Port St. Lucie.
"We are a team and it's important for us to travel as a team," Williams said. "It's important for us to be a team. There is going to be adjustments made over the next few days. We have some guys going [to play in] Minor League camp tomorrow. But today was a perfect day to have the majority here, regardless if they are going to pitch or not."
• The Nationals are expected to make another round of cuts before their last day in Florida, which will be Thursday. As of now, Williams and his staff have to figure out their bench and bullpen.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.