Lan­nan locked in as the fifth starter

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY AMANDA COMAK

VIERA, FLA. | This has been a dif­fer­ent spring for John Lan­nan. Twice a starter on Open­ing Day for this team on a less-stocked pitch­ing staff, Lan­nan has spent much of the past two months see­ing his name in trade ru­mors while the top four starters in the Washington Na­tion­als’ ro­ta­tion are fawned over.

But man­ager Davey John­son con­firmed Mon­day what was as­sumed since Chien-ming Wang tum­bled over first base 11 days ago and strained his left ham­string: Lan­nan is his No. 5 starter.

“John’s my guy,” John­son said be­fore Lan­nan twirled five ef­fec­tive in­nings, al­low­ing two runs off two hits and a walk with five strike­outs in a 7-4 vic­tory over the Hous­ton Astros.

From the mo­ment the Na­tion­als added right-han­der Ed­win Jack­son in Fe­bru­ary, how they were go­ing to piece to­gether the back end of their ro­ta­tion with Wang, Lan­nan and Ross Detwiler was one of their most preva­lent sto­ry­lines. Wang ap­peared on track to seize that fifth spot, draw­ing raves for his per­for­mance and his strength be­fore the in­jury, but the timetable for his re­turn is un­known.

Lan­nan, com­ing off a 10-13 sea­son with a 3.70 ERA, was the next log­i­cal can­di­date. Gen­eral man­ager Mike Rizzo has main­tained that he is not shop­ping Lan­nan and doesn’t view the Na­tion­als’ plethora of pitch­ers as a sur­plus. That mes­sage, though, never had to be con­veyed to Lan­nan.

“[Davey] doesn’t have to worry about me,” Lan­nan said, shrug­ging off the sug­ges­tion that John­son’s con­fir­ma­tion cleared up his murky sit­u­a­tion, say­ing only, “It is what it is.

“I want him to know that he doesn’t have to come in here and tap me on the back and say ‘Hey, it’s go­ing to be OK,’ “Lan­nan added. “I just don’t need that from him. . . . With ex­pe­ri­ence, you get more com­fort­able, but you’ve just got to stay hum­ble.”

That decision puts Detwiler in the bullpen, where he worked five times last year, al­low­ing two earned runs in 10 in­nings. A power left-han­der many saw as a lock for the 2012 ro­ta­tion be­fore the ac­qui­si­tions, Detwiler is out of op­tions so he’ll make the full-time tran­si­tion to a long re­liever un­til he’s need in the ro­ta­tion.

“I’m a big rou­tine per­son,” Detwiler said. “That’s what’s kind of throw­ing me off right now. I’m not on the same rou­tine I’ve been on. . . . I have to come up with a rou­tine that gets me ready ev­ery fourth day now or that gets me ready when­ever they call down there and say my name.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

John Lan­nan went into spring train­ing in three-way bat­tle with Chien-ming Wang and Ross Detwiler for the No. 5 sport in the Na­tion­als’ ro­ta­tion.

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