Apr 22, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT
Updated at 6:07 p.m.
The Nationals, as expected, recalled right-hander Aaron Barrett from Class AAA on Tuesday and optioned lefty Xavier Cedeno back to Syracuse in a bullpen-bolstering move.
Barrett, who dominated in his first two weeks as a major-league reliever and retired 13-of-16 batters faced, was sent down April 12 when the Nationals needed a fresh arm who could throw multiple innings (Blake Treinen). He was thus ineligible to be recalled for a minimum of 10 days, but now that the full period has passed, he was allowed to return to the big-league roster.
Before his demotion, Barrett was beginning to be used in some high-leverage situations, with manager Matt Williams displaying increased trust in the 26-year-old rookie. With veteran Tyler Clippard currently in a prolonged funk — he has been scored upon in 5-of-11 appearances so far this season and took the loss Monday night to the Angels — Williams might be tempted to throw Barrett right back into the fray as a key late-inning reliever alongside Drew Storen.
“From what I’ve seen, every situation we’ve put him in, he’s aggressive and he’s commanded the zone and he’s gone after hitters,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t expect anything else from Aaron. That’s just his mentality. That experience, albeit minor-league experience, in the last inning helps him, too. We’re going to look at what the situation is in the course of a game and make a decision on who to bring in. But Aaron is certainly confident in himself, and we’re confident in him.”
Barrett appeared in only two games at Syracuse over the last 10 days, with multiple Chiefs games rained out. He recorded saves in both appearances and returns to the big leagues knowing he has his manager’s support.
“It definitely gives me a little bit of confidence,” Barrett said. “But whatever the role is, whether we’re up or we’re down or it’s a close game, I just have to go out there and make pitches and get outs. I don’t really worry about that. I just try to make my pitches and get guys out. At the end of the day, that’s all I can do.”
Williams also suggested he’ll consider using Storen in the eighth inning, more as a reflection of the right-hander’s success to open the season than anything.
Storen has retired 22-of-24 batters faced so far in 2014, striking out nine without issuing a walk.
“I expect Drew to be ready to pitch at any point,” Williams said. “He can pitch the seventh. He can pitch the eighth. He can close if need be. He’s done it before and had success doing all three. Does it change roles? I think that’s yet to be determined. We’ll see how that all plays out. But he’s capable, sure.”
Cedeno, who was called up from Syracuse on Friday to replace Treinen, made one appearance, replacing the ineffective Clippard during Monday night’s loss. He allowed two hits in 1 1/3 innings.
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