Nats look to Young to fill in during Classic

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With one starter already gone and another leaving soon for the World Baseball Classic, the Nationals are looking at a handful of candidates to fill rotation spots in the coming weeks.

Chris Young, signed to a Minor League deal, will pitch in Ross Detwiler's place on Saturday against the Marlins. He threw 41 pitches in two innings of a Minor League intrasquad game on Tuesday.

Detwiler, in Arizona with Team USA, would be joined in the second round by fellow lefty Gio Gonzalez, who made his final start with the Nationals on Thursday before potentially joining the Americans in Miami. Gonzalez is scheduled to pitch the opener of that round, on March 12 at Marlins Park, should Team USA advance.

That opens the door for non-roster invitee Ross Ohlendorf and right-hander Nathan Karns, who is on the 40-man roster. Manager Davey Johnson said Karns' last outing was cut to one inning because of tightness in his left leg, but it shouldn't hinder his progress much. Karns is scheduled to throw next on Friday.

Ohlendorf, who made 50 starts from 2009-10 with the Pirates, has a 5.63 ERA (five earned runs in eight innings) through three games this spring.

He gave up two runs on three hits and one walk in three innings of work on Thursday against the Astros.

"He was a little rusty today," Johnson said. "He wasn't as sharp as he was the last time out. He was a little bit all over the place. He threw the ball all right, but typical Spring Training game."

Karns, the Nationals' No. 6 prospect according to 2013 Prospect Watch, has tossed three scoreless innings this spring. He was 11-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 24 games (18 starts) between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac last season.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.