Stammen looks back on big league debut

Stammen looks back on big league debut

WASHINGTON -- On May 21, 2009, right-hander Craig Stammen made his Major League debut against the Pirates at Nationals Park. He pitched six innings and allowed four runs on four hits against the Pirates in a 5-4 victory.

It would have been a much better debut for Stammen if not for a Pirates first baseman named Adam LaRoche, who hit a home run against him that day.

"It was a fun day. I received really good advice from Cat [pitching coach Steve McCatty] when I got called up from Triple-A," Stammen said. "He said, 'Do the exact thing that you did in Triple-A.' I took that advice up here in the big leagues. It was real easy the first couple of innings. It was a day I will never forget. It was a goal that I finally reached. I wasn't really nervous. I was excited."

As it turned out, Stammen, 30, wasn't in Washington's rotation long. After struggling in his first two years in the big leagues, Stammen became a valuable reliever for the Nationals in 2011. He has been used as a long reliever and setup man.

"I thought I would be a starter my whole career, but things happened to where I'm not starting anymore," Stammen said. "I'm always happy to have a uniform on. I'm happy to be on the team. I'm just excited to do what is asked of me."

Asked if he would like to start in the big league again, Stammen said, "Who knows? You always want to increase your role on the team. You want to pitch when the game is on the line. You want to pitch more innings -- whether that's starting or being toward the back end of the bullpen. I'm going to keep doing my part, doing the best I can in the situation that I get put in hopes that maybe down the line I'll get another opportunity to either start or be in the back end of the 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.