Left-handed reliever Bill Bray has been assigned to Class AA Harrisburg out of extended spring training, the Nationals’ minor league affiliate announced Monday afternoon. Bray remained in Viera, Fla., to fix a mechanical issue with his delivery, which prevented him from making the Nationals roster out of spring training.
When he arrived at camp, Bray appeared like a strong candidate to make the roster as a left-handed specialist until he couldn’t recapture his arm slot. While he battled a groin injury last season with the Cincinnati Reds, bad mechanical habits cropped up and he worked to rid himself of them. He always threw from a high three-quarters arm slot, but was throwing with his arm above his head during the spring. He pitched in only two spring training games and allowed two earned runs.
Bray, who has held left-handed hitters to a .218 average in his six-year major league career, could still be an option for the Nationals later. He has a June opt-out date in his minor league contract, so the Nationals have plenty of time to evaluate his performance. Late in the spring, the Nationals also signed veteran left-handed reliever J.C. Romero, who has a 2.19 ERA in 12 1/3 innings for Class AAA Syracuse. Romero also has a June opt-out date in his minor league deal.
The Nationals have been comfortable with their lone left-handed reliever, long man Zach Duke (6.28 ERA), and the reverse splits of their right-handed relievers. The pitching staff has combined to hold left-handed hitters to a .244 average, 12th best in the major leagues.