By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 27, 2008
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 26 -- The Washington Nationals finalized their roster for Opening Night by sending a pitcher they believe is ready for the majors to Class AAA Columbus, where he will be joined by an infielder who hit .389 this spring.
Left-hander John Lannan, who went 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA this spring, was optioned to Columbus despite an outstanding training camp. Veteran infielder Pete Orr will also play in Columbus, despite an outstanding spring, because the club preferred to keep speedy utility player Willie Harris.
The Nationals also sent reliever Chris Schroder, who was optioned to Columbus, and outfielder Ryan Langerhans, who cleared waivers after striking out 13 times in 31 spring at-bats, to the minors. The club placed catcher Johnny Estrada, who hasn't played this spring because of elbow tendinitis, on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 21.
"We made the decision that we're not going to release or outright a player because we've got to keep depth," General Manager Jim Bowden said. Therefore, Bowden said, the moves to send out Lannan and Schroder -- who both have options remaining, meaning they could be sent to the minors without risk of losing them -- were "really difficult."
Lannan, who will pitch for the Nationals on Thursday, would be the first pitcher recalled if right-hander Shawn Hill hasn't recovered from right forearm soreness.
"He might be here pretty soon," Manager Manny Acta said.
The moves mean Rob Mackowiak will serve as the fourth outfielder. The Nationals could have difficult decisions when outfielder Wily Mo Pe¿a and Hill come off the disabled list.
The club will bring Langerhans, Orr, Schroder, right-hander Garrett Mock, left-hander Mike O'Connor and catcher Wil Nieves to Washington as extra players for Saturday's exhibition against Baltimore at Nationals Park.Get 'Em While They're Cheap
The Nationals announced that the roughly 400 tickets that will be available for $5 on game days will also be available in that fashion for the opener. Those tickets will go on sale at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the main box office at Half and N streets SW. Fans who purchase the tickets will be asked to enter the park immediately to prevent scalping. . . . Elijah Dukes, scheduled to be the starting left fielder in the opener, had another day off Wednesday to rest his sore right hamstring. Acta said Dukes likely wouldn't play Thursday, but he planned to play him Saturday.