Reliever Henry Rodriguez will join the Nationals at some point before May 7, when his 30-day limit for minor league rehab expires. But the Nationals have not yet decided on an exact timetable for Rodriguez to make his Nationals debut, even though the Nationals moved Rodriguez from Class AA Harrisburg to Class AAA Syracuse last week.
Rodriguez initially went on the disabled list after neck spasms caused his delivery, already prone to wildness, to go off kilter. Rodriguez has pitched well on the surface – he struck out seven and walked none in four scoreless innings in Harrisburg, and he’s allowed one earned run while striking out three and walking two in Syracuse.
Still, the Nationals want to give Rodriguez more time to harness his delivery and are in no hurry, aside from adhering to his time limit, to bring him to Washington. His fastball has zipped between 92 and 100 miles per hour. And while his walks have been minimal, the Nationals feel undisciplined minor league hitters have helped that as much as improved control. They are happy with his progress, but do not feel compelled to rush him to the majors.
Once Rodriguez’s rehab ends, the Nationals will have to choose between sending down Rule 5 pick Brian Broderick or Chad Gaudin, whom they signed this winter on a minor league contract. If the Nationals sent Broderick to the minors, they would either risk losing him back to the Cardinals or be forced to swing a trade with St. Louis in order to keep him.
The Nationals acquired Rodriguez this winter, along with Syracuse outfielder Corey Brown, by sending Josh Willingham to the Oakland A’s. Willingham is hitting .214/.297/.411 with three homers and a league-leading 22 strikeouts.