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How important is a lefty reliever?

Feb 15, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bill Bray is competing for a spot in the Nationals' bullpen.

VIERA, Fla. — When Davey Johnson looked to his bullpen last season and wanted to summon a left-hander, he had no shortage of options. Sean Burnett was one of the best setup men in baseball. Mike Gonzalez was a seasoned veteran capable of retiring some of the game's toughest left-handed sluggers. And Tom Gorzelanny was versatile enough to pitch four innings or face one batter in a big spot.

All three of those southpaws, of course, are now wearing different uniforms, leaving the Nationals without one slam-dunk lefty for their 2013 relief corps.

As far as team officials are concerned, this is nothing to worry about.

"We're going to go with the best guys," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "The amount of left-handed relievers has never been a priority to me. Mostly because we've got right-handers that can getRead more »

  1. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    sjm308 said… As an owner of 13 different national's hats I also am not a fan of the new Spring Training hat. Will probably pass on that. I think each year they have a new design and I had been sent an early email on the various new hats and their grades by some company. Not all have the white front but lots do.Like I said, I am passing on this.Go Nats!!! February 15, 2013 9:58 AM These caps will also be the BP cap for this season. Keep in mind, MLB determines the changeover of caps and all teams changed. The motivation? MONEY!These aren't the cheap GEICO giveaway caps but they look like it. These are just better materials. I don't really care either way. Some will like it and some won't but generally the "look" grows on you.

  2. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I'm hearing conflicting news on Bray. Is his groin injury from last year still bothering him?

  3. natsfan1a - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Okay, for all you Tweeter people (both in and out of jail), was just looking at the Florida Today site and saw that they have a special Tweeter handle for Spring Training Nats news.https://twitter.com/NatsRundownYou're welcome. :-)

  4. NatsLady - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Forgot to say Happy Birthday to Tyler Clippard. He was born on Valentine's Day… :)

  5. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    About the best thing I can say for the hats is they are fitted by size instead of S,M,L,XL with elastic.

  6. SCNatsFan - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Ghost, from all the articles I read about Bray this morning it seems he's altered his delivery either of because the way the injury healed or because he is afraid to reinjure it. Seems like he needs time with the pitching coaches to sort it out but the first thing I thought when I read the articles was there was no way he opens the season in DC. Others might have read the articles differently but that was my take.

  7. EmDash - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Off-topic, but this article made me think about the draft a little bit – anyone else think this guy sounds like the prototypical Nats' kind of choice? *g*

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    SCNatsFan said… Ghost, from all the articles I read about Bray this morning it seems he's altered his delivery either of because the way the injury healed or because he is afraid to reinjure it. Seems like he needs time with the pitching coaches to sort it out but the first thing I thought when I read the articles was there was no way he opens the season in DC. Others might have read the articles differently but that was my take.With all the options Davey has for the bullpen, it is better not to rush Bray who has no options.With guys like Bray and Ohman who signed on with MiLB deals, the team can start them in the Minors. They don't have that same option with Henry as he either starts on the 25 man or goes on the DL or goes on waivers.Duke, Stammen, Mattheus, VACANT, Clippard, Storen, SorianoI only see one opening with Bray, Ohman, Henry, Kimball as the top guys for the spot.It sounds like Christian Garcia won't be considered for the bullpen right now.

  9. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Here's the bullpen as I envision it today with 6 spots set and 1 open:DukeStammenMattheus-VACANT-ClippardStorenSorianoThat 1 spot appears to be the only opening on the entire Opening Day roster.Still hoping it goes to Javier Vazquez.

  10. sm13 - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    I'd like to see Chistian Garcia in that vacant spot. He can stretch out as a long man and fill in in late innimgs if needed. If he looks good in multiple inning appearances maybe he can then transition to starter for 2014. For now, he has high value in the pen.

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    “I think it’s a great opportunity,” Bray said. “If I stay healthy, really that’s all I’m worried about. A lot of people ask, ‘Do you expect to have good stats this year?’ I expect to be healthy. If I’m healthy, I’ll do my job. And I’m very confident that I’ll make this team.”

  12. Candide - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said… Duke Stammen Mattheus -VACANT- Clippard Storen SorianoIgnorant question: If HRod doesn't get that vacant spot, he's out of options and therefore gone, correct?

  13. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    sm13, don't worry about Garcia. He will be in the 'pen comes September callups and the postseason as they will only need 4 starters for the postseason.He was a pleasant surprise last season. I think Rizzo doesn't see the urgency with him right now and they want to see what he has as a starter.

  14. UnkyD - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Soriano got his papers… Should show tomorrow, according to bleacher report…

  15. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Candide, choices on Henry are like they were last year:1. On the active MLB roster2. On the DLor3. they could waive him and hope he passes through waivers which doesn't have a high likelihood. If he passed through waivers they could put him back in the Minors.

  16. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    UnkyD, that's great news.

  17. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Candide, HRod is out of options, and must pass through waivers if they want to send him down, BUT … there's always the DL. Personally, I don't see the point in [messing] with whatever chances he has for an actual job at this point. Either keep the guy or give him a chance for himself. Wang was on his last chance–Henry might still find someone who will give him a shot.

  18. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Sec, I think you owe me a Diet Coke. LOL

  19. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    So, if he doesn't make the 25-man, and he'd have to be PFB Henry to do that, I think, then I expect they'll ask waivers for sending him to Syracuse, and if another team doesn't waive their right to claim him, maybe they can work out a deal for Slider Dykstra, or maybe Sinker Dykstra, or even Bugs Bunny Dykstra.

  20. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    That doesn't count, my server is hanging today, took a long time to post that. ; )

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Sec3, I love it! As much as I'm not a Henry fan, I wouldn't want to face him. I say the only way to part ways is to trade him to an AL team for a low level Draft Pick or as you so aptly said "maybe they can work out a deal for Slider Dykstra, or maybe Sinker Dykstra, or even Bugs Bunny Dykstra". Exactly what I am thinking.

  22. Doc - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    I see HRod starting the season on the DL. After that, at some point, it's decision time for the Nats.So far, not a lot to show for The Hammer being traded to the A's.

  23. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Supposedly Chad Tracy was dropping Bombs out on the highway like Werth was doing last Spring.That's a great sign!

  24. Candide - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Candide - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Sec. 3, My Sofa said…That doesn't count, my server is hanging today, took a long time to post that.; )As they say, it's a poor carpenter who blames his tools.Which is another way of saying Ghost is a more toolsy guy than you are… :-) Pay the man his Diet Coke.

  26. Tony - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    If Henry doesn't make the 25 man roster out of spring training, he could go on the DL or be DFA. If he's DFA, that could result in him being traded, or another team claiming him on waivers, or he could clear waivers and become a FA. If another team trades for him or claims him, they would have to put him on their 25 man roster because he's out of options. If he becomes a FA, he's free to sign a minor league deal with any team, including the Nats. So if he doesn't go north with the Nats, that doesn't necessarily mean he's gone.

  27. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Doc said… So far, not a lot to show for The Hammer being traded to the A's.It goes down as a poor trade any way you slice it. Remember, the Nats put Corey Brown on waivers last year and nobody took him.I think Corey needs a chance somewhere. He's not going to get it here with Bernadina in front of him as the 4th outfielder.

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Candide, I love it! My tools are working today although I've fallen prey to Mark's SPAM web.

  29. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    I figured somebody would say that. Oh, all right. El NIDO de Nats Fans

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    This El NIDO is nice. I'm now owed 2 six packs and 1 Diet Coke!Its all good in the neighborhood. I think that's Applebees slogan!

  31. Candide - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    How does five total Cokes = 2 six packs plus one diet?And before you start drinking all them Cokes, you might want to read this.

  32. Section 222 - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    I'm fine with Duke being the only lefty, but does anyone else remember that when Gonzales joined the bullpen last year, Davey was raving about how great it was to have so many lefty options? The Nats have shown they aren't afraid to come very close to the made up injury line to keep from losing someone. So it seems pretty certain that if they're already talking about Bray's groin injury modified delivery and Henry's elbow tenderness, those guys aren't going to be on the 25 man at the start of the season unless they really impress during ST. So if Henry isn't PFB and Bray is just meh, who's the guy? Could Cole Kimball be ready? Boy have we come a long way since we starting the season with a Rule 5 guy, Broderick, in the bullpen, or handing the ball over 20 times in a season to the likes of Logan Kensing, Kip Wells, and Ron Villone (three stalwarts of our "bullpen" in 2009).

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    Candide, I have 13 drinks owed on my column!2*6=12+1=13

  34. Ghost Of Steve M. - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Haven't been many Nats tweets in over 2 hours. I see CBS Channel 9 got a one-on-one with Bryce Harper. How do they score that? That seems like a major feather in their cap at this point in ST.I love it how the DC NBC and CBS affiliates sent people to Viera. Haven't heard if FOX or ABC did the same. How times have changed. I think 2 years ago there were only beat writers and Chinese Taipei reporters covering Wang.

  35. NatsLady - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    New post on my little baby blog. Would love if you all could look at it and see if there are any glaring errors. Just bypass if you're not interested or don't want to work as my editor/proofreader for nada. :)The Magic Twenty-Sevenhttp://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/

  36. NatsLady - Feb 15, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Ghost, been writing instead of tweeting. Takes forever to format a tiny table on Word and WordPress…

  37. Anna Peregrina - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Looks good to me, NatsLady.

  38. Candide - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Whoops – I was reading your drinks across, not down.

  39. djinFl. - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Yes there are plenty of pressers in Viera.I just put up a shot on twitter from yesterday.@djbinFl

  40. SonnyG10 - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Looks good to me also, NatsLady,

  41. natsfan1a - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    sofa and I have infinite drinks owed. That's a lot of six packs. :-)Ghost Of Steve M. said… Candide, I have 13 drinks owed on my column! 2*6=12+1=13 February 15, 2013 1:28 PM

  42. natsfan1a - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Luck for us, they're imaginary so that maintaining six-pack abs won't be an issue. What?

  43. NatsLady - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Thanks for reading, folks. I put in an additional chart and posted it on Twitter. Go Nats!!!

  44. mo nats - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    NatsLady, the baby blog is great.And Ghost, Britt McHenry is in Viera from Channel 7 – I saw at least one interview she did with Mike Rizzo and another with Bryce I think.

  45. sjm308 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    I can barely use a computer, have a cell phone that is 8 years old and now you guys are talking about twitter. Damn!!

  46. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    sjm, maybe you could stick to Linear B. ; )

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