WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Strasburg and Taylor Jordan were selected by the Washington Nationals in the 2009 amateur draft. While Strasburg was the first name off the board, Jordan was the first player picked eight rounds later.
When they met for the first time that summer, during fielding drills, Jordan wasn't awed by Strasburg's reputation.
"He comes up to me, 'I thought you were left-handed,'" Strasburg said. "He's an interesting guy."
Jordan learned Saturday that he will open the season with Strasburg in Washington's starting rotation. Jordan replaces injured Doug Fister, placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle on the right side of his upper back. The move is retroactive to March 23.
The Nationals made the announcement in finalizing their opening day roster after their scheduled exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers was canceled because of rain.
Also in the rotation is right-hander Tanner Roark, who will start the home opener Friday against the Atlanta Braves.
"It's definitely a huge opportunity," Roark said. "I'm going to do what I can and go out there, get outs, put up zeros and attack hitters."
Jordan is set to start April 6 against the Braves.
Jordan and Roark are the surprise additions to the rotation for the Nationals, who entered the spring expecting Fister and Ross Detwiler to fill the back end behind Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. Detwiler is healthy, but will begin the season in the bullpen.
"I think they proved themselves in the spring," manager Matt Williams said. "They really pitched well. We created this competition between the two of them and they both responded. Those are very good signs."
Injuries forced the 25-year-old Jordan and 27-year-old Roark into the rotation as rookies last summer. Despite going 1-3 in nine starts, Jordan showed promise with a 3.66 ERA before he was shut down in August as a precaution following Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Roark pitched in relief in August and took a slot in the rotation in September, finishing 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA.
"Very different how they go about their business," Strasburg said of the rotation newcomers. "But they're both extremely talented. I think they both worked really hard to get to this point. They're both kind of the guys that were the odd man out, always going up through the minors."
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