New starter is figuring out his role in Washington

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Dan Haren is still figuring out where he fits into the potent Washington Nationals' rotation.

Haren went a spring-high four innings, allowing two earned runs in a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

Rick Porcello started for the Tigers and pitched five shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out four.

Haren signed as a free agent after going 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels last season. He is set to join Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler in the rotation.

Haren said he already has the pecking order figured out.

"Let's see, I am the oldest starting pitcher, and I am by far the slowest," Haren said. "I am the second-best hitting pitcher. Other than that, we are a staff and a team that is built for the long run. Our fans in Washington have a lot to be excited about for a long time."

Haren has 119 career wins and has been an All-Star three times. He said he has his eyes fixed on bigger things this year as part of a team that many are picking as the favorite to go to the World Series.

"It's an exciting time to be here in Washington," Haren said.

Nats manager Davey Johnson has been impressed by what he has seen.

"Dan Haren has been great," Johnson said. "He's been sharp all spring, and he has great command. I like what I am seeing."

Porcello is competing with Drew Smyly for the final spot in the Tigers' rotation behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister.

Smyly hasn't allowed a run in nine innings over three starts. Porcello has allowed only three runs in 12 innings in four starts.

Porcello has fanned 14 without a walk this spring and has a 2.08 ERA. His name has been mentioned in trade speculation, and he said he's done talking about possible deals.

"I feel good right now," Porcello said. "Everything is working well. I am trying to get ahead of the batters, but I am pitching with confidence. I am not here to work on stuff. I am here to win.

"Numbers are nice, but you can't take too much out of them," Porcello said. "For five innings I felt great today, and I need to bring that to the regular season."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't showing his hand on the final opening in the Tigers' rotation. He liked what he saw from Porcello.

"That was impressive. He's bearing up under all the talk like a professional. He is locked in now," he said. - AP