Washington Nationals Finalize Opening Day Roster
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The Washington Nationals finalized their 25-man Opening Day roster yesterday, opting for a rather unconventional combination that includes three catchers and three left-handed relievers.
The bullpen alignment, which resulted in right-handers Jason Bergmann and Garrett Mock being optioned to Class AAA Syracuse, came about in part because those players had minor league options, while others in the competition did not.
"I did everything that was asked of me. I pitched well," said Bergmann, obviously dejected. "Those options hurt."
But in the case of lefty Wil Ledezma, a journeyman now in his sixth organization who came into camp as a non-roster invitee, the decision also validated a dazzling spring (1.69 ERA, 11 strikeouts, 3 walks in 10 2/3 innings).
"He's got a power arm from the left side," Manager Manny Acta said. "We can see why he keeps getting chances. I hope this will be a long stop for him, that he can just take off. Because we don't see him as only a situational lefty. He can go out there and overpower right-handers too."
As for the catchers, while both Josh Bard and Wil Nieves made the Opening Day roster as backups to Jesús Flores, it is likely one of them will be jettisoned when the team activates fifth starter Jordan Zimmermann on April 19.
Deadline Is 'Pretty Firm'
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said his self-imposed deadline of tomorrow for working out a contract extension is "pretty firm," despite a flurry of recent talks between his agents and Nationals officials. Acting general manager Mike Rizzo said the sides have been in "daily conversations" in hopes of agreeing on a long-term deal. . . .
According to Rizzo, the Nationals will groom Mock as a closer at Syracuse, despite his being used almost exclusively as a starter in the minors throughout his career, while Bergmann will be asked to work on his consistency, especially in regards to throwing more first-pitch strikes. . . .
The Syracuse rotation: Zimmerman, Collin Balester, Kip Wells, Mike O'Connor and Craig Stammen. All but O'Connor are right-handed.