Nationals Notebook

Nats Trim Roster, Cut 11 Players

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

JUPITER, Fla., March 16 -- Inside the Space Coast Stadium clubhouse, the lockers closest to the exit belong to the young guys, those with minimal big league experience and little chance to get it this year. On Monday, more and more of those lockers lost their nameplates, as the Nationals made 11 cuts.

The departures not only cleared the big league camp of some greener players, but also cleared room for the team to take long looks at several veterans fighting for roster spots.

None of the cuts registered as a surprise. Washington reassigned to minor league camp pitcher Josh Towers, catcher Gustavo Molina, outfielder Jorge Padilla, and infielders Freddie Bynum and Joel Guzmán.

Six players from the 40-man roster also were demoted. The Nationals sent pitchers Tyler Clippard and Marco Estrada to Class AAA Syracuse, where they will serve as starters. Outfielders Leonard Davis and Justin Maxwell also were sent to Syracuse. Pitcher Luis Atilano and infielder Ian Desmond were optioned to Class AA Harrisburg.

The next round of cuts will be decidedly trickier, as the team tries to sort out its crowded outfield and untested bullpen.

The Nationals, in particular, want to see at-bats from three who started in Monday's 3-1 win against the Marlins: Kory Casto, Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Peña. They'd like to have Dmitri Young in that category, too, but the first baseman's ongoing back problems are keeping him out of action.

"He's improving, but he's not ready to get on the field yet, so it's a moot point," Manager Manny Acta said of Young. "Until he gets on the field, we can't even make an assessment on how is he doing or what are his chances or what he is going to do. He needs to get on the field."

Toe Issues for Guzmán

Shortstop Cristian Guzmán left Monday's game after the first inning because of a cut on his left pinky toe, likely the result of athlete's foot. He was replaced by Alex Cintrón, and is listed as day-to-day.

A Mostly Solid Effort

Despite two throwing errors in the infield, the Nationals had one of their best games of the spring.

They managed seven hits in four innings against Florida starter Aníbal Sánchez. Their pitching staff struck out 12 and walked none. Corey Patterson, Anderson Hernández and Lastings Milledge all had multihit games.

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