Henry Rodriguez makes the team, 25-man roster set

Henry Rodriguez Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

Henry Rodriguez is officially on the Nationals 25-man roster, Manager Davey Johnson announced after Friday’s game against the New York Yankees, the final exhibition game of the spring. The final spot on the roster was to be handed to either the hard-throwing right-hander or J.C. Romero, the veteran left-hander who the Nationals signed to a minor league deal last week.

“He’s got outstanding stuff,” Johnson said of Rodriguez. “Fastball. Changeup. Breaking ball. He only started getting a little wild last year when – I’m sure that elbow was bothering him with that big bone chip in there. And then he hasn’t much in the way, which he’s had his whole life, of winter ball. Missed half a season. He’s not somebody you’re going to give up on easy.”

Rodriguez, who was out of minor-league  options and needed to be placed on the team or essentially be released, has had an inconsistent spring as he returns from August elbow surgery. Johnson has expressed confidence in Rodriguez’s ability, even as he has allowed only three hits but walked 11 batters and hit two this spring. So when Rodriguez struggled recently with Romero in the fold, the possibility of a move existed.

Rodriguez’s performance Friday solidified Johnson’s leaning. He tossed a scoreless sixth inning that was an improvement from previous spring performances. With five pitches, he notched two quick outs. With his second pitch of the inning, Rodriguez fired a a hard slider at Eduardo Nunez, who ducked back to avoid the pitch that fell in for a called strike.

But Rodriguez walked Brett Gardner on five pitches, hitting 98 mph on the radar gun. He ended the inning with a groundout from Ichiro Suzuki. “It takes a little while to get all in sync,” Johnson said. “He’s awfully close right now.”

Rodriguez has said he needed time to ease back into action, since he was slowed this spring with some arm tightness and elbow soreness, and hadn’t faced live hitting for five months.

“When you throw that hard and you do occasionally let one go, they’re not comfortable in there,” Johnson said of Rodriguez’s wildness. “Nobody’s comfortable in there. Ask the second baseman for the Braves how he feels about him. He’s a good weapon.”

Romero now heads to Class AAA Syracuse. And the rest of the Nationals roster, as expected, is set.

 

NATIONALS ROSTER

LINEUP

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Jayson Werth, RF

3. Bryce Harper, LF

4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Ian Desmond, SS

7. Danny Espinosa, 2B

8. Wilson Ramos, C

ROTATION

9. Stephen Strasburg (R)

10. Gio Gonzalez (L)

11. Jordan Zimmermann (R)

12. Ross Detwiler (L)

13. Dan Haren (R)

BULLPEN

14. Rafael Soriano (R)

15. Drew Storen (R)

16. Tyler Clippard (R)

17. Ryan Mattheus (R)

18. Craig Stammen (R)

19. Zach Duke (L)

20. Henry Rodriguez (R)

BENCH

21. Kurt Suzuki, C

22. Roger Bernadina, OF

23. Tyler Moore, OF

24. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B, LF

25. Chad Tracy, IF

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.

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Adam Kilgore · March 29, 2013