Suns' Solis just happy to be here

Nationals' No. 5 prospect tosses six scoreless innings in '14 debut

Sammy Solis had a 3.32 ERA in 14 appearances last year in his return from Tommy John surgery. (Gary Dize)

By Robert Emrich / | May 16, 2014 11:42 PM ET

Sammy Solis isn't concerned with perceptions. He's not worried about where he's pitching. At the end of the day, he's just thrilled to be on the mound again.

The Nationals' No. 5 prospect allowed four hits and struck out seven over six innings to win his season debut Friday as Class A Hagerstown routed Lakewood, 11-0, in the first game of a doubleheader.

Solis (1-0) did not issue a walk and faced three batters over the minimum. He retired seven in a row after Jiandido Tromp singled with one out in the third.

"Honestly, I feel like everything was working," Solis said. "More than electric stuff, I think it was throwing strikes. I was pounding the zone with every pitch, which I feel like is good to see, especially fresh out of Florida and extended spring training. I just wanted to get a feel for all my pitches tonight."

Solis, who worked his way back from Tommy John surgery in March 2012, missed the start of the season due to back spasms. For a pitcher who's never thrown more than 100 innings in a season, the time off time proved frustrating.

"Yeah, it was," the 25-year-old left-hander said. "It's hard because every single season now I haven't started on time, and that's been tough on me because I'm always excited to get going. In the end, it's where you finish, not where you start."

While it would be easy for some to think of Solis as injury-prone, the University of San Diego product isn't concerned with that.

"Honestly, no," he said. "I could care less what people think. I don't think it's a matter of my character or my work ethic. I'm working my butt off every day. I just have gotten the short end of the stick, but that doesn't mean I'm changing anything."

There was some speculation that Solis might begin the season at Double-A Harrisburg, with the idea of working toward the Nationals bullpen. The 6-foot-5 southpaw was happy to take the field in the South Atlantic League, where he pitched in seven games in 2011.

"I'll tell you, anything is better than being in extended spring training," Solis said. "I was just excited to get out there and play in games that have meaning and helping whatever team it is win a game. It didn't matter to me, I was happy to be out of Florida and, hopefully, I can move up from here."

Joseph Webb followed Solis with a hitless seventh to finish off the Suns' third shutout of the season.

Wilmer Difo slugged a pair of homers and drove in a career-high five runs, while Isaac Ballou and James Yezzo both homered and chipped in two RBIs.

BlueClaws starter Alejandro Arteaga (3-5) surrendered seven runs on 11 hits over two innings.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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