Washington Nationals cut seven players, roster at 42

Craig Heist, wtop.com

VIERA, Fla. — With two weeks left before the Washington Nationals leave camp, the team announced it sent outfielder Eury Perez to Syracuse, its Triple-A affiliate team, as well as right-handed pitcher Nathan Karns, catcher Sandy Leon and infielder Anthony Rendon to Double-A Harrisburg.

Additionally, the Nationals reassigned left-handed pitcher Pat McCoy and infielders Will Rhymes and Matt Skole to the minor league camp.

With the cuts today, the Nationals roster stands at 42.

Rendon continued to impress the Nationals with his play this spring. He hit .375 with four homeruns and 11 RBIs, and proved that he is completely healthy after suffering an ankle injury last year.

“He’s an extremely impressive player,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We’ve known that since he was a freshman at Rice University. He just needs some time at bat to polish his skill set. He is going to be a fine player for us. This is not unexpected and when we sent him down today. He did so with a smile on his face knowing he is going to be here someday soon.”

Manager Davey Johnson was also impressed with the way Rendon played this spring and is anxious to see how he continues to play on the left side of the infield.

“In his case, because of some injury problems, he just needs to play,” Johnson said. “Position wise, I’m comfortable with him at third. That was his college position and he has shown some ability at shortstop, which I like, and also at second base.”

Johnson was working with Rendon throughout the spring on his footwork around second base. He likes what he saw and says Rendon may see some time at second base.

“He passed the test for me as far as his footwork at second. I talked to him when we sent him out and congratulated him on a great spring. I asked him how he feels about second base and he said he feels comfortable there. The thing when you go from the left side to the right side of the infield is footwork, and his footwork was impressive in all the drills I had with him in so, he’s in a good spot and up to the task wherever the organization needs him.”

Nathan Karns was impressive early in the camp. He threw two innings in the Nats’ first exhibition game against the Mets on Feb. 25 and struck out three. In his first two appearances, he threw three innings and allowed two hits before experiencing upper leg tightness.

“It’s not a serious thing, it just flared up,” Karns said. “Time is all we needed and we are pretty much out of the woods and I’m just ready to get back on the field.”

The bottom line for Rizzo is to make sure everyone is ready, if and when they will be called upon.

“This is part of their progression and this is how we prepare players for the big leagues. We like guys who when they get to the big leagues are here to stay and they are ready to play at that level.”

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