Mar 20, 2014, 12:58 PM EDT
VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals made six more cuts before this afternoon’s game against the Tigers, bringing even more clarity to the few remaining roster battles over the final week of spring training.
Right-handers Ross Ohlendorf and Christian Garcia and catcher Jhonatan Solano were optioned to Class AAA Syracuse, with fellow reliever Manny Delcarmen and infielders Brock Peterson and Will Rhymes re-assigned to minor-league camp.
None of the moves was especially surprising, but collectively they pare down what had been the most wide-open competitions of the spring: the final spot on the bench and the final spot in the bullpen.
With Ohlendorf, Garcia and Delcarmen now out of the mix — and with Luis Ayala now reportedly signing with the Orioles following his release yesterday — there are fewer names still in the running for the Nationals’ Opening Day bullpen. The remaining contenders: right-handers Ryan Mattheus (who makes his Grapefruit League debut today after missing all of camp with a chest injury), Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinin, plus left-handers Xavier Cedeno and Michael Gonzalez. Tanner Roark also could wind up making the roster out of the bullpen if he isn’t named No. 5 starter.
Ohlendorf will prove an expensive insurance arm at Syracuse. The 31-year-old signed a guaranteed, $1.25 million contract over the winter, and he’ll still make that full salary in the minors.
With Rhymes and Peterson now out of the mix, three position players remain in camp battling for one spot on the bench: Tyler Moore, Jamey Carroll and Jeff Kobernus. Each brings something different to the table — Moore provides power, Carroll has experience, Kobernus offers speed — and the decision might well come down to what specifically the Nationals think they need most from that position.
Solano’s demotion leaves the Nationals will four catchers in big-league camp. Wilson Ramos and Jose Lobaton are locks to make the club, with Sandy Leon and Chris Snyder still here serving as spring training backups.
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