Nats' Tanner Roark relishes roles as starting pitcher

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Qfter he took Nationals' job in November 2015, Washington manager Dusty Baker made a call to Tanner Roark and asked the pitcher his preferred role.

''He had won 14 or 15 the first year and was moved to the bullpen,'' Baker recalled. ''He said, `I want to start.'' I told him, `Then you tell the world you want to start.'''

Roark was 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts in 2014 and dropped to 4-7 with a 4.38 ERA in 2015, when he made 12 starts and 28 relief appearances. When Doug Fister and Jordan Zimmermann left as free agents, Roark and fellow righty Joe Ross got a chance to join the rotation last year.

Roark went 16-10 with a 2.83 ERA in a career-high 210 innings.

`I like to go as hard as I can for as long as I can. That's how my personality is,'' Roark said.

He made 33 starts and one relief appearance.

''He ran with it. He works hard. He throws strikes. He's an athlete. I thought he was going to get a Gold Glove,'' Baker said. ''You know that when Tanner goes out there you're going to get a consistent effort and a guy who's going to try and find a way to beat you. His record wasn't indicative of what a good year he had. There were four or five games he could've won more.''

With Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez in the rotation, Roark got a lot less attention.

''I love being the underdog. I always like to have that in my back pocket to keep me going,'' the 30-year-old said. ''It's a mental thing. It keeps the fire inside me going. I want to have something like that every year to hold on to.''

NOTES: Baker said there was no word on C Matt Wieters, who agreed to Tuesday to a $10.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical. Washington will have to make a corresponding move on its 40-man roster. . SS Trea Turner missed the start of Wednesday's workout because of jury duty. Turner, from nearby Lake Worth, later arrived at the complex and made up for missed time, taking batting practice against RHP Erick Fedde and fielding grounders at shortstop from bench coach Chris Speier.

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