Hopeful Roark shows efficiency in Minors game

Hopeful Roark shows efficiency in Minors game

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark pitched in a Tuesday afternoon game against a Tigers Minor League team at the Nats' Minor League complex, and he didn't give up a run in five-plus innings.

In his last inning, Roark was able to get three quick outs, but he then pitched to a few more batters before he reached his 75-pitch limit. Roark was supposed to pitch against Detroit's Major League team on Monday, but the game was cancelled because of rain.

"He threw the ball real well," pitching coach Steve McCatty said. "You go to these Minor League games ... usually the reverse happens and you worry about pitch counts. [Our Minor League team] did a very nice job for him defensively. ... I thought he spotted the ball extremely well."

According to McCatty, Roark doesn't care how he fits in on the team. He is willing to be a starter or reliever.

"[Roark said], 'I want to pitch, I want to be on this club.' That's the way he is taking it," McCatty said. "He just wants to go out and compete."

Roark is competing against right-handers Chris Young and Taylor Jordan for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"Competition is good. We are in a good position. We have a lot of options that we can go to," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We still have two weeks of Spring Training left, and I think it's going down to the wire. Whatever decision we make, we feel good about who is going to be in our rotation and who is going to be in our bullpen."

McCatty reiterated that he wants to see Jordan be aggressive with his fastball. In his last start against the Tigers, Jordan was beat because he relied on his breaking ball.

"We want him to use that sinker and get it going and understand how good it is," McCatty said. "I'm not expecting him to be a strikeout guy. He has a sinker that is outstanding. It's above average. He can also [throw a four-seamer]."

McCatty has noticed that Young is throwing the ball free and easy, and he believes he can go back to being the quality pitcher that he was several years ago with the Padres. Young's fastball can go as high as 87 mph, according to McCatty.

"This year, the ball is coming out better. ... He is doing real well," McCatty said about Young. "I like what I see."

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.