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Purke, Taylor, Roenicke among 6 morning cuts

Mar 13, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

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The Nationals made another round of cuts this morning, reducing their big-league roster by six.

Left-hander Matt Purke and outfielder Michael Taylor each were optioned to Class AA Harrisburg. Pitchers Josh Roenicke, Danny Rosenbaum, Clay Hensley and Daniel Stange — none of them members of the 40-man roster — were reassigned to minor-league camp.

Purke continues to be something of an enigma. Drafted in 2011 and given a 4-year, $4 million guaranteed contract to keep him from going back to pitch at TCU, the the left-hander has made only 21 professional starts so far and had shoulder surgery in 2012. He appeared in three games this spring, allowing seven runs on 10 hits and three walks in only 5 1/3 innings.

Taylor, touted as one of the organization’s best outfield prospects, got his first taste of big-league camp this spring and hit  went 3-for-18 with a triple and three RBI. The speedy 22-year-old hit .263 with 41 doubles, six triples, 10 homers and 86 RBI last season at high-Class A Potomac and will now get a chance to play center field at Harrisburg.

Roenicke was signed to a minor-league contract last month after spending six seasons with the Reds, Rockies, Blue Jays and Twins and compiling a 4.17 ERA in 190 total big-league appearances. The 31-year-old reliever, who is Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond’s brother-in-law, gave up four runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings this spring. He is expected to open the year at Class AAA Syracuse.

Hensley, 34, was trying to re-establish himself after spending time pitching in independent ball last year. A 7-year veteran with a 4.00 ERA in 271 career big-league appearances, the right-hander tossed four scoreless innings this spring. The Nationals would like him to report to Syracuse, but he has an out clause in his contract and could elect to become a free agent.

Rosenbaum, 26, allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings in his first big-league camp. The left-hander figures to return to Syracuse, where he posted a 3.87 ERA in 28 starts last season.

Stange, signed to a minor-league deal over the winter after making seven big-league appearances with the Diamondbacks and Angels, appeared in two Grapefruit League games and allowed three unearned runs.

With these moves, the Nationals now have 49 players in major-league camp.

  1. Candide - Mar 13, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Ignorant question: What’s the difference between being “optioned to AA Harrisburg” and being “assigned to minor league camp?”

    • NatsLady - Mar 13, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      If a player is on the 40-man roster, he has to be “optioned” to a particular minor-league team. Our own guys who are not on the 40-man are just sent to minor-league camp, and it can be decided later which team they will start the season on. If a guy signed as a free agent he can accept his “assignment” or, depending on his contract, opt out of going to minor-league camp and become a free-agent again.

      • Candide - Mar 13, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Thanks! I owe you a couple of politics and food picture Facebook posts ;-)

      • NatsLady - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        @Candide, I’m sending you pictures of lost dogs. Watch out!

    • NatsLady - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      Also, I believe (not 100% sure), once a guy is optioned to a particular minor-league team, he has to stay there and can’t come back for major-league games. So when a team grabs guys from minor-league camp to fill in, they have to be guys “assigned” to minor-league camp. The minor leaues also have spring training games. As far as I can find, the Nats have not announced the spring training schedule of games ( http://www.springtrainingonline.com/teams/washington-5.htm ) but here is the Mariner’s schedule http://chrisharris.mlblogs.com/2014/02/03/mariners-2014-minor-league-spring-training-schedule/

      • zmunchkin - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        NL, I think that is true for a player on the 40 man roster who is out of options. For such players, if they clear waivers and are sent to the minors, they can’t be called back to the MLB club. Players who have options can be sent down and called up any number of times in a single season.

  2. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 13, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I posted this on the last thread before realizing everyone had moved on:

    If someone knows the situation w/ Purke’s options I’d be interested. This is the fourth time he’s been “sent down” — I assume he won’t be brought back before OD — since he was signed, so it would seem this is his last option year. But I have a vague recollection that there are exceptions in instances of time lost to injury, which would seem applicable here.

    Purke still seems to be in recovery mode. A year at AA might restore him sufficiently to allow him to contribute in 2015.

    • Jb - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      If he’s on the 60 dayDL for a whole season he never has to be optioned.

    • Section 222 - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Someone more knowledgable than I can correct this I’m sure, but unless the Nats used up on option on Purke in 2011 when he was drafted mid year, I think this is only his third option year. And he’ll get a fourth option year because he has not completed five professional seasons yet. So I don’t think he’ll be out of options until 2016. But if we used up an option in 2011, then this would be his last option year. I’m pretty sure you have to miss an entire season due to injury to not use up an option. Purke pitched a few games in 2012 so I don’t think that applies to him.

      • Jb - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        He got a major league deal. If he didn’t come to the bigs as soon as he signed and stay there the rest of the season, he was optioned.

      • Section 222 - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        See Todd’s comment below. Sounds like if he didn’t play at all, no option needed in that first year. It’s true none of this would be an issue if he hadn’t signed a MLB deal. But that’s water under the bridge and can’t happen again.

  3. natinalsgo - Mar 13, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    That’s big news for Taylor and Purke who are both promoted from A ball. AA is the real thing.

    Here’s the bigger question on Purke. At what point to you convert him to a reliever? He’s a lefty who could see his potential as a lefty set-up man in the Venters role and that’s a valuable spot. I think the same with Rosenbaum who I think could do it.

    My opinion is now. He will be 24 years old. There will still be time to try starting again.

    • Sec3MySofa - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      Purke was drafted in 2011, but didn’t play anywhere that year, so no option was used. I’m not sure, but it doesn’t look like he spent 60 days at Harrisburg, so the DL time wouldn’t count in that case, thus 2012 would also not burn an option year. Last year and now this year would make 2 of the 3 years used, so he should still have 2015 as an option year, if I figured this right.

  4. Sec3MySofa - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    CORRECTION:
    The 60 days/DL thing relates to getting a fourth year. If he spent TWENTY (20) days in the minors in that year, he used an option.

    • Todd Boss - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:01 AM

      Purke Options status: Signed in Aug 2011. Optioned in 2012 (#1). Optioned in 2013 (#2). Just got optioned in 2014 (#3). However because of his having signed MLB deal, he’ll qualify for a 4th option next year. The 4th option qualification doesn’t have anything to do with DL time; it has to do with his having < 5 years pro service by the time he reaches his 4th possible option. This rarely happens but does occasionally when a) a player signs a MLB/40-man deal out of college like Purke, Rendon, Harper did (no longer possible with new CBA), b) a player matriculates to the majors very quickly (see Ryan Perry or Mike Leake for good examples), or c) a major International FA gets shuttled to the minors too many times (see Yunesky Maya for a good example there).

      • Section 222 - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        I knew we could draw Todd out with the actual straight scoop. :-) Thanks Todd. So Purke can be optioned next year too — they’ll have to figure out something for him in 2016.

      • therealjohnc - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        I’ll throw in a plug for Todd and his site, Nationals Arms Race (see the blogroll list to the right). Todd tracks the arcane world of baseball options in a resource on that site. He’s good – he was the first one to point out in 2012 that John Lannan still had a minor league option.

  5. sjm308 - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I continue to be intrigued with these older guys ( I realize that 30+ is not old but in the minors I believe it is) who continue to try and reach their dreams once more. I think its really admirable that Hensley, Roenicke & Stange are not giving up on something they probably have done for more then 15 years. As long as they are not blocking the progress of any of our younger arms I hope they hang with us and if even one of them reaches the majors again it is a nice story. I am still rooting for Ayala as I think he is the last of the minor league signings still at the major league camp. The other large groups of minor league signings that have not been re-assigned are the older catchers and utility infielders & I can see the importance of having them available.

    I guess none of these young men will actually do anything to help us achieve our goals but you never know.

    Go Nats!!

    • Candide - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      At Viera last week, watching the minor leaguers on the practice fields, a sad thought occurred to me.

      These kids are largely 18-23 years old. Ten-fifteen years ago, they were playing Little League for the sheer joy of playing baseball. They found they didn’t just love the game, but they were really, really good at it, best on their team, best in their league, best in their school.

      But as they grew older, they found the competition got incrementally tougher, and now, most of them are working hard at the game they used to play at. And I wonder if the 13-year-old’s joy of the game hasn’t, over the years, become the 23-year-old’s desperation. “Guys my age are starters in the big leagues and here I’m fighting to survive. What am I going to do if I get released?”

      I lovelovelove “Bull Durham,” but there’s one really sad scene in there where Skip calls in a guy who’s been in a slump and starts in with, “This is the toughest job a manager has…” and lets him know he’s been released. The kid’s 23 years old and now he’s going back to east Pennsyltucky to sell Lady Kenmores at Sears.

      Larry: “Sears sucks, Crash. Boy, I worked there once. Sold Lady Kenmores. Nasty, whoa, nasty.”

      Not sleeping well last night has certainly put me in a chipper mood this morning…

  6. Sec3MySofa - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Da Meathook signed on a minor league contract with a ST invite, initially. Mike Gonzales, the lefty reliever, a couple of years back, IIRC, was a minor league invite. There’s usually somebody who stands out.

  7. sjm308 - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Sofa: exactly my point and while I realize its a long shot, I love watching these kind of stories play out.

    Just a suck up to our commentors here. I start my morning by going back to the last nights post and reading those comments, then work my way through whatever Mark has posted this morning. I think I gain a great deal from reading comments from people who I have no idea who they are. I think my baseball knowledge has been increased twofold from reading different ideas/opinions, reading various links. Of course I don’t agree with everything and that is what makes it stimulating to me. Thanks to you all!!

    • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      I’m with you on this 1000%. I’ve learned an insane amount about baseball between reading here and taking in games entirely via the radio in August and September 2012. Carp and FP are obviously very knowledgeable, but listening to Charlie and Dave without the distraction of the visual really forces you to listen to what they’re saying.

  8. sjm308 - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Oh, while I am sucking up – a special thanks to Mark for providing us this vehicle and making our love of baseball and this team even more special

  9. natinalsgo - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Oh crap, Ryan Zimmerman to sit 2 more games with that quote “if these were regular season games I would play”.

    Soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Say it ain’t so.

    • NatsLady - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Didn’t he say “I lie to you guys [reporters] all the time”? I know he was being cheeky, but, still…

      • natinalsgo - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        Exactly. That’s his canned response with every time he sits out. That’s why I’m worried. Even Bowden has high hopes for Z. I think we all know that if he can stay healthy a full season he will be a MVP candidate. Health is needed.

      • Sonny G 10 - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        Hmmm….maybe we need to root harder for Espi to come through. We might need him if Zim can’t go.

    • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Yikes…where are you getting this info?

      • natinalsgo - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Eric tweeted out this morning and Nats Journal has a full post with lots of quotes from Z.

      • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Nevermind, found it. Fingers crossed.

      • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:18 AM

        I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they’re just treating him like a pitcher in this regard, at least during ST. The moment he feels there’s anything less than total comfort, take a rest.

        But, obviously, we’ll see.

      • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        This is heartening in that it’s pretty candid about his fears, but indicates it’s not persistent (I’m working hard to convince myself it’ll be OK ;) ):

        “At first you’re concerned, because you don’t want anything to hurt,” Zimmerman said. “Once every day it starts to feel better, you realize it’s just soreness and not anything structural. At first, you’re always nervous, especially when you had something repaired. It’s okay.

        “It feels good enough to play now. Because we’re afforded with the time we have now, we should just give it one or two more days to make sure it’s completely out of there. You can do that down here. Regular season, it would be a different story.”

      • natinalsgo - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:30 AM

        The question is why is it still hurting after what was called successful surgery over a year ago. Is this normal?

        More of a reason for a shift to 1st where you rarely throw the ball at max effort.

      • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        I suspect it’s pretty common to be sore off and on during the first few weeks back, particularly as you step up playing time. I know I’m sometimes insanely sore for the first day – week when I get back into activities I haven’t done in awhile (running, hiking, biking, e.g.).

        My guess is that it’s something like that, and he/the team just want to be sure it resolves like you expect a standard muscle soreness to resolve.

        But…I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous…

    • ArVAFan - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      3rd base? Paging Anthony Rendon.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      I thought Bowden has high hopes for anything that moves on the field.

  10. natinalsgo - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    http://www.masnsports.com/nationals_pastime/2014/03/as-two-time-tommy-john-patient-garcia-feels-medlens-pain.html

    Kolko with a nice post on Christian Garcia and how Medlen parallels to that.

  11. snerdblurter - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    @masnKolko:
    2014-03-13 13:59:58 UTC
    Doug Fister dealing with a little arm tightness after throwing today (3rd straight day). Scheduled to throw a ‘pen but that could change
    __

    I’m gonna go ahead and mentally prepare for him being out for the first month…

    • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      Uuuugh…yeah, I’ll just go ahead and assume that’s the case.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        A month? Lets hope that’s all it is. They said no structural damage but they didn’t say there wasn’t bone chips floating around in there. Williams last week said he wasn’t concerned. He should be concerned now.

        The silver lining is Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark.

      • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        Yeah, I do feel that we can absorb losing him for awhile between Jordan, Roark, and hopefully Ohlendorf (meaning, hopefully he’ll be recovered in time for the season, especially if Fister is not).

    • NatsLady - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:50 AM

      I’m not surprised about the tightness, after he was shut down for a couple of weeks. Probably overdid it a little. I sense some tension between Fister and the trainers, here, which is also natural given they are not used to him and he’s not used to them.

      Not that he reads this blog, but he needs to settle down and not push himself if he’s really hurting. I know he’s the new guy, but he doesn’t need to prove anything, just be himself. The trainers might want to listen to his side also, as he is a veteran with a routine and he knows his own body.

      • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        If he didn’t like or trust the trainers, and had no concerns, wouldn’t he just keep mum about the tightness?

      • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        Bullpen is still on so far, and Williams appears to agree with you that it’s simply related to throwing for three days straight after time off.

        Perhaps naively, I find it encouraging that it’s full arm tightness, not elbow soreness.

  12. Candide - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Oh. My. God.

    Walter Johnson Becomes ‘Chief Heavy Breast’

    • Eric - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Whoa…I’d love to know more details surrounding that! My wife was a trail repair crew leader in Glacier National Park back in ’01. All the kids on her crew were Blackfeet.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      thanks for that link.

  13. David Proctor - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Fister, however, doesn’t view Thursday’s tightness as a setback and believes the past three days have gone “fairly smooth.”

    “A little stiff because of I hadn’t thrown,” he said. “Just a matter of working those kinks out.”

    ___

    I hope he’s right, but I also hope he listens to his body and takes his slow. Tightness is nothing, but it can escalate into something worse.

    • Section 222 - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      Totally agree. And I repeat, using Det as the #4 and with just one spot start by Roark/Jordan, the Nats could wait until April 12 to start Fister. That’s more than a week after April 4 start that he’d otherwise make if everything were fine.

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