Nats spring training blog: Tough roster moves

Ryan Zimmerman, shown here in an earlier spring training game, and Bryce Harper homered for the Nationals on Tuesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

MELBOURNE, Fla. — The Nationals made some roster cuts after their 7-3 win over the Mets Tuesday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium.

Matt Williams made the announcement that the team had released infielder Jamey Carroll and right-handed pitcher Chris Young. The team also optioned right-hander Ryan Mattheus, left-hander Xavier Cedeno and first baseman Tyler Moore.

“None of them were easy,” Williams said, “but they’re moves we had to make, and I wanted to let them know today, so they can make plans.”

When asked about the release of Carroll, Williams said, “That’s the toughest one I’ve had so far. I think there’s more in the tank for him. I think he’ll land somewhere and continue to do what he does.”

The thinking on the release of Carroll and the optioning of Moore was basically the lack of playing time available.

The moves leave utility man Jeff Kobernus and catcher Sandy Leon basically fighting for the final bench spot. Williams said it could come down to the final exhibition game Saturday at Nats Park.

“We’ve got options,” Williams said. “We’ve considered a three-catcher combination, and Kobe is an option for us as well.”

Williams also informed Aaron Barrett that he has made the club. Barrett was the closer for Harrisburg a year ago and has had a very impressive spring.

That locks up the bullpen spots, meaning that whoever loses the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation between Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan will start the year in the minors. All of that could change if Doug Fister is not ready to go at the start of the season, but all indications, as of now, are that he will be ready to go.

Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg went 5.2 innings in his final start of the spring, giving up three runs on five hits, walking two batters while striking out seven. Strasburg finishes the spring with a 4-0 record and a 1.83 ERA.

“I got some good work in,” Strasburg said of the spring. “I came into spring wanting to work on another pitch (the slider), work on my time out of the stretch and controlling the run game, and I feel like I got a lot more comfortable with that as the spring went on.”

He is all set to go Monday in the season opener against the Mets in New York.

The offense in the game was provided by Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper. Each homered and drove in three runs apiece.

Fans turned out this spring

The Nationals announced that 77,564 fans attended games at Space Coast Stadium this spring. That’s an average of 5,540 a game a team record for spring training.

Another replay challenge

Following a play in the eighth inning in which the umpires thought Denard Span went to the ground and trapped a fly ball hit by Andrew Brown, Matt Williams popped out of the dugout and convinced the umpires to look at the replay. They did, and it turned out that Span had caught the ball. Matt Williams won his second challenge of the spring, making him two for three on challenges.

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