Ten days after the Nationals optioned him to Class AAA Syracuse in order to add a fresher relief pitcher, on the first day he was eligible to return, the Nationals recalled right-hander Aaron Barrett on Tuesday afternoon. In order to make room on the roster, the Nationals shuttled lefty Xavier Cedeno back to Syracuse once again.
“It was a little bit of a shock,” Barrett said. “I know they told me it had to be 10 days but at the same time I didn’t expect it to be on the 10th day, not really. I was just going out to Triple-A and expecting to get my work in. If it happened, it happened. Just glad to be here.”
In his rookie season, Barrett immediately became a lynchpin in the Nationals’ bullpen. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a tie game opening day, and he struck out Giancarlo Stanton in a crucial spot shortly before his demotion. In the majors, he struck out six and allowed no runs in 4 1/3 innings. The rookie gained Manager Matt Williams’ quickly, and the manager plans to use him in the same way as before.
“From what I’ve seen in every situation we’ve put him in, he’s aggressive, has commanded the zone and gone after hitters,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t expect anything else from Aaron. That’s his mentality. … Aaron is certainly confident in himself and we’re confident in him.”
The Nationals sent him down not for performance-related purposes, but because he had minor league options, and their beleaguered bullpen needed an arm. During his time at Syracuse, Barrett struck out two in 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He didn’t get much work; he took two days off to rest when he arrived in Syracuse, the following two games were rained out and then he pitched in two games, the most recent on Saturday. He understood the reason for his optioning 10 days ago.
“We needed a fresh arm,” Barrett said. “That’s the nature of the business. No, I didn’t think I was going to be called up in 10 days. They told me a minimum of 10 days. It might be 12 days. It might be 15 days.”