Car­roll close to se­cur­ing spot on ros­ter

Team’s moves in­clude re­leas­ing Michaels

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY AMANDA COMAK

VIERA, FLA. In the morn­ing, Washington Na­tion­als out­fielder Brett Car­roll watched as the man who’d been his pri­mary com­pe­ti­tion for a spot on the team’s bench all spring qui­etly packed up his be­long­ings. In the af­ter­noon, Car­roll all but so­lid­i­fied his place on the ros­ter.

The Na­tion­als cut four play­ers Thurs­day. They re­leased out­fielder Ja­son Michaels, re­as­signed in­fielder An­dres Blanco to mi­nor league camp and op­tioned re­liev­ers Ryan Perry and Atahualpa Sev­erino to Triple-a Syra­cuse. And with each locker that’s cleaned out, the Na­tion­als’ 25-man ros­ter takes a clearer shape.

Right now, it’s a picture that has Car­roll’s, and most likely Xavier Nady’s, name in it.

“It’s no se­cret I like the way Car­roll fits,” man­ager Davey John­son said af­ter the Na­tion­als’

6-3 vic­tory over the At­lanta Braves. “He’s a lit­tle bet­ter fit for what we’re try­ing to do. Nady is a nice fit, too. [Mark] Derosa is a nice fit.”

Maybe that’s helped make Car­roll a bit more com­fort­able af­ter weeks spent play­ing in all but three of the Na­tion­als’ games. Michaels’ de­par­ture has cleared the way for Car­roll, and a 1-for-2 day with two walks and a bases-loaded triple with a throw­ing er­ror that brought him all the way around didn’t hurt his chances. Not to hear him tell it. “Not one bit,” Car­roll said. “I’m com­fort­able be­cause it is what it is. I’ve been down this road be­fore. Ob­vi­ously, my hope is to break camp be­cause I’d like to con­trib­ute, but un­til I’m on that plane go­ing north, I’ll just con­tinue tak­ing it one day at a time.”

This is a dif­fi­cult time for non-ros­ter play­ers and those on the bub­ble. As the days dwin­dle, so do the num­bers. The Na­tion­als still have to send four play­ers out be­fore they can set things for Open­ing Day, and play­ers are per­cep­tive enough to know who’s at risk.

“You’re def­i­nitely not a ro­bot,” Car­roll said. “You have emo­tions.”

The decision to op­tion Blanco, who can still opt-out of his con­tract, seem­ingly as­sured Steve Lom­bar­dozzi of a spot as a util­ity player. With left fielder Michael Morse likely to start the sea­son on the dis­abled list, Car­roll and Nady are the top can­di­dates to get the re­main­ing out­field/bench po­si­tions. Both are ver­sa­tile right-handed com­ple­ments to left­handers Rick Ankiel and Roger Ber­nad­ina in the out­field, as well as Adam Laroche at first base.

The Na­tion­als still have to trim nine play­ers in or­der to get to 25 be­fore Open­ing Day, but it’s likely that five of those play­ers will be moved to the dis­abled list: Cole Kim­ball (60-day), Chris Mar­rero (60-day), Morse (15-day), Drew Storen (15-day) and Chien-ming Wang (15-day). Right-han­ders Chad Durbin and Craig Stam­men, along with catcher Car­los Mal­don­ado and first base­man Chad Tracy, are the most likely to be cut in the days ahead.

The Na­tion­als play four more games in Florida and one ex­hi­bi­tion game in Washington, but John­son ex­pects to have his ros­ter mostly fi­nal­ized by the time they de­part Viera on Sun­day morn­ing and end their Grape­fruit League sea­son on the road.

“I plan to ba­si­cally be fairly close af­ter this home­s­tand,” John­son said. “I want the guys men­tally pre­pared to start the sea­son, wher­ever they’re go­ing to start the sea­son, be­cause all of them are very im­por­tant to the suc­cess of this ball­club.”

Notes: The Na­tion­als signed left­handed starter Zach Duke to a mi­nor league deal Thurs­day. Duke, who is ex­pected to start the sea­son in Triple-a Syra­cuse’s ro­ta­tion, was re­leased by the Hous­ton Astros ear­lier this week.

Laroche came through his first game since March 15 with­out any is­sues with the bone bruise in his left foot. “Let’s move on and rock and roll for the sea­son,” he said.

Util­ity man Mark Derosa was a late scratch Thurs­day with some left-calf tight­ness, but it is not con­sid­ered se­ri­ous and he ex­pected to be back in the lineup Fri­day, play­ing the out­field for the first time this spring.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Na­tion­als’ Brett Car­roll eludes the tag of At­lanta catcher David Ross to score dur­ing the sixth in­ning Thurs­day. Car­roll hit a two-run triple and came around to score on a trow­ing er­ror in the Na­tion­als’ 6-3 win.

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