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Nats release Gonzalez, trimming bullpen again

Mar 25, 2014, 12:43 PM EST

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VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals released left-hander Michael Gonzalez this afternoon, removing one more name from the competition for their final bullpen job about 48 hours before they break camp and head north to begin the season.

Gonzalez had signed a minor-league contract with the Nationals on March 4, hoping to pitch his way onto the club’s Opening Day roster. But the 35-year-old struggled in four Grapefruit League appearances, allowing four runs and seven hits in four innings.

Gonzalez could have opted out of his contract on Thursday if he wasn’t added to the club’s big-league roster, but the Nationals decided to release him now and give him a few more days to try to catch on with another team.

By removing Gonzalez from the mix, the Nationals moved one step closer to finalizing their Opening Day bullpen, but there remain several undecided factors toward making that final call.

There are, officially, four pitchers left in the competition: right-handers Ryan Mattheus, Aaron Barrett and Tanner Roark, plus left-hander Xavier Cedeno.

Mattheus, who only made his spring debut last week after recovering from a chest injury, remains unlikely to build his arm up enough to be ready for Opening Day. Roark is also competing for the Nationals’ No. 5 starter opening; if Taylor Jordan wins that job, Roark could instead make the club as a reliever.

Cedeno would give the Nationals three left-handers in their bullpen, something manager Matt Williams said is being considered because of some left-handed-heavy lineups on the early season schedule.

Barrett has been the most-effective of the bunch this spring, tossing 9 2/3 scoreless innings in his first-ever big-league camp. The 26-year-old arrived in Viera seemingly with little chance of making the roster, assigned a spot at the end of the clubhouse reserved for the minor leaguers who typically are the first players cut. This morning, though, Barrett remained right where he started, with 12 empty lockers between himself and Drew Storen, the next-closest pitcher.

  1. scnatsfan - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I thought he’d make it as long as the other had options

  2. Danny - Mar 25, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    He wasn’t particularly impressive. From memory, can only remember one outing he didn’t give up runs.

  3. NatsLady - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    Not a surprise. He got started late, and he was not particularly effective last season with Milwaukee. The only downside is, IIRC, he is friendly with Soriano and might have given him morale support. :)

  4. tcostant - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    Looks like Jordan won the final spot. Saw this on the Nats offical website as pitchers in the first series.

    “Probable Pitchers: Taylor Jordan vs TBD”

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      Have to wonder if Rizzo knows thats posted there. I dont believe thats official and could be a marketing person who got a little aggressive.

      • tcostant - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        Team website have scooped teams before. Sometimes they tell them to get it ready and post it in error. Don’t discount it.

    • Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Pretty funny. They also have Fister as the probably for Apr. 5, which we can be pretty sure is wrong.

    • Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      Now the starter for Apr. 4 is TBA!

  5. DaveB - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    I’m surprised, as I thought I when he signed he implied that he had started the year in the minors 2 years ago and was prepared to do that again since he was getting a late start, and felt comfortable that the Nats had treated him fairly that time. Guess I was assuming what I wanted to hear … or perhaps some other team stepped forward with a more immediate need (I think I just read that the Padres were down to just 1 lefty in their BP, for example).

    • tcostant - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      I think your correct, I think his opt out was something like May 15th in 2012.

    • sjm308 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      I think he was saying what he probably thought management wanted to hear as well. I think he will be on a major league roster, but if not, I am sure Rizzo will welcome him back and I am also pretty sure he would rather be on our minor league roster then most others.

  6. sjm308 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    Wow – this competition thing is working out pretty well. Mattheus, Cedeno and Barrett have all been tough down the stretch. Guessing that they will send Mattheus down just to get more innings so that leaves two, or three depending on the #5 starter ( because I can’t see them sending Roark down if he is not starting). Great news is that everyone has an option so even though they will not be happy with the moves, they all have to know that they will pitch in the majors before the season is over. I am not wishing for injury or poor performance but the reality is, we have outstanding depth on the mound, both starters and in the pen.

    I am still interested in seeing what magic Rizzo can work concerning C Young.

    And also interesting in seeing who joins McClouth, Lobaton &, Espinosa on the bench.

    Go Nats!!





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