Nationals Notebook

Wily Mo Pena Released by Washington Nationals

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

LAKELAND, Fla., March 31 -- After refusing to accept a minor league assignment, Wily Mo Peña was released on Tuesday by the Washington Nationals, ending the outfielder's tenure with an organization that once viewed him as a centerpiece of its future. Peña had been placed on waivers this weekend but went unclaimed. He is now a free agent.

Peña, 27, had the body of a slugger but not the swing. Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in August 2007, he got off to a tantalizing start, hitting eight home runs in his final 37 games. But last season, while battling a shoulder injury, Peña had a .267 slugging percentage and just two home runs in 195 at-bats. This spring, his health was the only improvement. He still struggled to hit breaking balls and displayed little gap power.

The Nationals, already with a crowded outfield, had no room for Peña, and he did not wish to play with Class AAA Syracuse. He will still earn a guaranteed $2 million from Washington this season.

The Nationals made one other move on Tuesday, reassigning relief pitcher Gary Glover to minor league camp. The Nationals' active big league roster now stands at 34.

Stammen Looks Good

Craig Stammen, who made a cameo start for the Nationals in Tuesday's 7-2 exhibition victory over the Detroit Tigers, is rarely mentioned as one of the organization's top young arms. He is already 25. He shuffled last year between Class A Potomac (4-2, 2.21 ERA), Class AAA Columbus (1-4, 7.33 ERA) and Class AA Harrisburg (3-1, 1.64 ERA).

But Stammen's four innings on Tuesday -- he allowed just one run and one hit, retiring 10 in a row after a leadoff walk -- provided a reminder of his virtues. He doesn't throw hard, but he throws strikes.

Stammen believes he'll start the year in the rotation with Syracuse. "But my goal is to pitch in the big leagues" this year, he said. "If I don't get that chance, I'd consider it a little disappointing."

Hernández Uncertain

The Nationals are still uncertain if second baseman Anderson Hernández will be able to recover from his hamstring injury in time for Opening Day. Hernández strained his left hamstring in an exhibition game last week, and on Monday he went through some light running and jogging exercises. On Wednesday, Hernández will face the test that determines the next step: He will take some ground balls.

"That will be the telling point whether he'll be ready for Opening Day or not," Acta said.

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