(Charlie Riedel / AP)


In planning their spring pitching schedule, the Nationals are at the mercy of the World Baseball Classic. Manager Davey Johnson has responded with a shrug. Pitching coach Steve McCatty has nervously fiddled with paper, pencil and eraser to the point that Johnson dubbed him “Mother Hen.”

Given Team USA’s place in the tournament, the Nationals simply don’t know when Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez will return or when they will pitch again. Detwiler may pitch in relief of starter Ryan Vogelsong tonight in Miami against Puerto Rico, and if not he could be a candidate to start the next day against the Dominican Republic. Gonzalez, Johnson said, is down to start March 19 if the U.S. reaches the championship round.

If the United States loses tonight, they would be eliminated from the tournament. Gonzalez would be lined up to pitch on regular rest Sunday for the Nationals. (The Nationals currently list Ryan Perry as the official probable starter for Sunday.) McCatty and Johnson would have to find a spot for Detwiler based on whether – and how much – he pitches tonight.

The tournament has the chance to jumble both pitchers’ schedules. Johnson, though, is confident with coaches Marcel Lachemann and Greg Maddux regulating their workload.

“I am sure between Lachemann and Maddux, their throwing program is just like what they’re doing here, and they’ve had plenty of mound work under the tutelage of two great pitching coaches,” Johnson said. “I’m not concerned at all about that. I’m sure both of them are learning from guys that know a lot about pitching. I think it’s a great experience. Whatever work scheduled they’re on, I’m not the least bit worried.”