By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 30, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, April 29 -- In an attempt to improve an underperforming bullpen, the Washington Nationals acquired right-handed reliever Logan Kensing from the Florida Marlins on Wednesday for minor league pitcher Kyle Gunderson.
The Nationals transferred outfielder Roger Bernadina from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list and sent reliever Jason Bergmann to Class AAA Syracuse to make space for Kensing.
"He's a guy who has a pretty good arm," Manager Manny Acta said of Kensing. "We've seen him a couple years now. We're trying to stack up some power arms and do whatever we can to get this bullpen going."
The Nationals' bullpen woes have been an ongoing issue during the first month of the season. Their relievers are last in the National League with a 5.51 ERA, causing the team to reshuffle the roster and the roles.
Kensing, 26, has gone 7-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 108 career games during a five-season span. His most productive season was 2008, when he finished 3-1 with a 4.23 ERA in 55 1/3 innings and held opposing hitters to a .234 batting average. Kensing has struggled this season with a 9.82 ERA in 7 1/3 innings, meaning his arrival with the Nationals will either signal a fresh start for him or more of the same for the bullpen.
"I'm excited. It's always good to still have a job," said Kensing, who arrived in Philadelphia from Miami on Wednesday. "Things didn't happen the way I wanted to early in Florida, but they gave me another chance by sending me over here."
Acta said Kensing does not arrive with a specified role. Kensing said he never became comfortable early this season, which contributed to the poor start.
Outfielder Josh Willingham, who played with Kensing in Florida, was excited about the trade and said Kensing can fill the role of either a middle- or a late-inning reliever.
"He's got a short, quick arm action with a good slider," Acta said. "We just want to have arms like that in our bullpen."Guzmán Activated
Shortstop Cristian Guzmán was activated from the 15-day disabled list and returned to the Nationals lineup on Wednesday after missing 12 games with a left hamstring strain. Infielder Alberto González was optioned to Syracuse to make room for Guzmán, who led the National League with a .515 batting average before the injury. His addition improves a lineup that needs help defensively at shortstop and offensively at the leadoff spot.
"Cristian brings a lot to the table," Acta said. "He's been a bright spot for us for the last three years and he was swinging the bat outstanding before he got hurt."