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Skole among first round of camp cuts

Mar 9, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT

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The Nationals made their first round of spring training cuts this morning, re-assigning four players to minor-league camp, including first baseman Matt Skole.

Also re-assigned were catcher Jeff Howell, right-hander Gabriel Alfaro and left-hander Tyler Robertson.

Skole, the organization’s fourth-best prospect according to Baseball America, impressed during his three weeks in camp, hitting .357 (5-for-14) with three doubles, a homer and five RBI. After missing nearly all of 2013 following a rare Tommy John surgery for a position player, the 24-year-old is expected to open the season at Class AA Harrisburg. A strong year could bring him to Washington by September.

Howell appeared in only two games this spring, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout. The 30-year-old catcher spent last season backing up at Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse, hitting a combined .259.

Alfaro, 30, pitched two innings this spring, allowing one run on three hits and striking out three. Signed this winter out of the Mexican League, he’ll likely join the staff in Syracuse to open the season.

Robertson, 26, tossed two scoreless ninth innings for the Nationals this spring and wound up recording saves in both instances. The left-hander had a 3.04 ERA in 26 games with Syracuse last season.

These cuts leave the Nationals with 59 players in big-league camp.

  1. natinalsgo - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Skole wasn’t going to make the 2014 Opening Day roster. He has to work hard and put up big numbers this year in the Minors and make 2015 his year to make this team when LaRoche leaves.

  2. sjm308 - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    All I can figure here is that Skole will get more innings/more at bats in the minor league camp. He really impressed me at both 3rd and first and that will be an interesting scenario as to where he plays the most innings. My guess is first base as I am thinking after Tyler Moore he is our next best option.

    There were years past where a player like Skole might have hung around a few more weeks but this team has come a long long way.

    Go Nats!!

    • Steady Eddie - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Getting him more playing time in MiLB camp was exactly the point.

  3. positivelyhalfst - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    I agree that the change from years past is refreshing. It’s amazing to think that for a while it seemed that Ian Desmond might have made the roster of the inaugural 2005 team out of Spring Training.

  4. Sonny G 10 - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I guess Skole could see it coming, but it still must have hurt a little bit (did me anyway). Of course I knew there wasn’t room for him on our 25 man roster.

  5. Joe Seamhead - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    I wish Matt Skole much success. I also hope he primarily plays 1st this year..That may have something to do with him going to Harrisburg rather then to Syracuse. It leads me to speculate that maybe Tyler Moore will be playing 1st in Syracuse.
    Wow, the news on Cole Hamels isn’t sounding good at all.His last session he threw 35 pitches and said that it felt like 1000 and that he was shutting himself down. I kind of liked old Charlie Manuel, but Cholly did have a history of riding his horses hard and putting ‘em away wet. Hamels is signed for big money through 2018. He and his contract may end up being another albatross around Rubin Amaro’s neck. Philly is in shambles because of amongst other things, signing too many players to too long of contracts for too much money.

    • nats128 - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      You mentioning Hamels is why JZim and any starter is such a risk on a long-term deal. Look what Johan Santana did to the Mets and their payroll. Insult to injury is then getting nothing for a player like Johan when he becomes a Free Agent.

      The Nats have crossroads decisions coming up.

    • Doc - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      Pitchers’ arms like Greg Maddux and Nolan Ryan that complete the journey without significant time on the DL are few in the history of the game.

      At the other extreme we have the talented Christian Garcia who, because of arm problems, still hasn’t started his big league career.

      I like the way the Nats exercise due care and caution with their pitchers. It has paid off in the recent past, and will surely continue to do so.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        I get your point, Doc, but Christian Garcia has (technically) started his big league career, with his amazing 12 2/3 innings in 2012. But yes, Garcia is the Nick Johnson of pitchers – good when he isn’t injured, and yet always injured.

  6. nats128 - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2014/03/09/doug-fister-improving-ryan-zimmerman-takes-more-grounders-at-first/

    Sounds encouraging on Fister and RZ takes grounders at 1st.

  7. ArVAFan - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    “Adam LaRoche is expected to get some at-bats in minor league games on an off day in the middle of the month, Williams said. LaRoche is coming off a down 2013 season and is usually a slow starter in the season. So far, he has played in six games and is 5 for 15 (.333) with two home runs.”

    OK, so sounds like WIlliams is not going to put up with “0-for-April.” Good. I guess Williams is trying to get him into his May rhythm by getting more at-bats in March. Hope that works.

    • Sonny G 10 - Mar 9, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Sounds like a great idea to me. Let’s see how it works out.

      • Doc - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        Williams was part of the Ariizona organization that chose not to re-sign ALR before he signed with the Nats.

        He may not be a big fan of ALR. He also knows that the Nats have lots of options at 1B, at the major and minor league level. There’s getting to be a log jam there.

        We can expect that Rizzo is having lots of trade options at his disposal.

        Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Nats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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