By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
NEW YORK, May 26 -- Unable to find a place for him in their rotation or their bullpen, and unable to tolerate the idea of watching his continued struggles, the Washington Nationals on Tuesday designated Daniel Cabrera for assignment, cutting ties with the pitcher they signed in the offseason. In eight starts and one relief appearance, Cabrera showed he could find neither the strike zone nor his old mid-90s velocity. The team informed the right-hander of its decision after Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field.
By removing Cabrera from the roster, the Nationals will eat the remainder of his one-year, $2.6 million contract.
"You have to put your best 25 players on the roster that are giving you a chance to win," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "I look beyond the contract and look at the execution and performance of the player, and it wasn't up to par. I was tired of watching him."
In eight starts, Cabrera went 0-5, and averaged more than two hits and/or walks allowed per inning. On Monday, in his first appearance after he was banished to the bullpen, Cabrera recorded two outs, walked three and threw a wild pitch.
The Nationals' next roster move will be a temporary one. With catcher Josh Bard heading home to be with his wife, who is about to give birth, the Nationals plan to recall catcher Luke Montz from Class AA Harrisburg. But he might be with the team for just a few days. By the weekend, regular starting catcher Jesús Flores should be ready to come off the disabled list.
When Cabrera was informed of the decision after the game, he talked quietly with a few teammates and said his goodbyes. If Cabrera clears waivers and is not traded within the next 10 days, he can either report to the minors or opt for free agency. Cabrera suggested that he'll become a free agent. Asked if he'd accept a minor league assignment, he said, "No."
Cabrera understood the move, though, and did not appear upset.
"Yeah, I understand the situation," he said. "I know I haven't pitched good. I have not been doing what they wanted me to do. I haven't been pitching good, so it was going to happen sooner or later."
Asked why he struggled during his brief tenure with the Nationals, Cabrera said, "In this game, that's why you see 50,000 people there. Because in this game you never know what is going to happen. One day you can be the best and one day you can be the worst. When I come here I had a good feeling, but nothing going my way."