Washington Nationals cut roster down to 33

Washington Nationals second baseman Zach Walters fails to throw out St. Louis Cardinals\' Ronny Cedeno at first during the seventh inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Jupiter, Fla. The Cardinals won 5-1. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Craig Heist, wtop.com

VIERA, Fla. – The Nationals cut a total of eight players Monday before their game with the Detroit Tigers at Space Coast Stadium, with opening day just two weeks away.

Right-handed pitchers Erik Davis, Yunesky Maya and Ryan Perry, catcher Jhonatan Solano, infielder Chris Marrero and outfielder Corey Brown were all optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Additionally, the Nationals reassigned right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf and infielder Zach Walters to minor league camp.

Later in the morning, catcher Chris Snyder was then granted his unconditional release leaving the Nats with 33 players left in big league camp.

Walters had a very good spring for the Nats. He hit .297 with two homers and four RBI in 21 games. Last season, he hit a combined .258 with 12 homers and 49 RBI between Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse and he made an impression on manager Davey Johnson in camp.

“I really like Zach,” Johnson said. “He kind of reminds me of where Desmond was at two or three years ago. I like his upside. He has tremendous ability and he’s learning who he is. That’s what he needs to do.

“I think the spring has been good for him and I enjoyed having him here, enjoyed watching him express his talent. He has a better idea of who he is and what he can accomplish and that’s a good thing. He just needs to go play and gain experience from that and I think he has a great future.”

Johnson also said Yunesky Maya took some steps forward this spring and can see him as a valuable insurance policy in case something happens to one the starters. Maya got into five games this spring, throwing eight innings and pitching to an ERA of 2.25.

“I really like the way he has attacked and pitched this spring,” Johnson said. “He’s had moments where he has pitched really good here for me and I look to him for real good insurance. I told him if he goes with the same mindset he had this spring and gets stretched out, he would be a candidate if we had a problem.

“I told him this is a very important year for me and the organization and I told him I expect him to carry on and keep a great frame of mind, knowing that you can get a phone call any minute. By in large, I said the same thing to Ohlendorf. With his experience and if he get stretched out and gets going, if we had a problem up here, he could be a candidate.”

Ryan Perry struggled in Sunday’s game against the Tigers in Lakeland. After throwing a perfect fifth inning, Perry did not retire a batter in the sixth and was charged with five of the Tigers six run in the inning. He ended up with a 10.24 ERA this spring.

“He needs to get more consistent with his command and atta cking hitters,” Johnson said. “He’s still learning, kind of like a Zach Walters about who is and what kind of ceiling he has.

Basically, I just tell them the way it is and where they’re at in the scheme of things. I’m not big on romance and BS. It’s no secret if there is an area where we lack depth, it’s starting pitching and I hope I impressed on the three that I sent down today that they are prime candidates, each and every one of them. I wanted them to look at it as an opportunity to get where they need to be and be ready from jump street.”

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