Nats send hot prospect Zimmerman to AAA
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In setting their opening-day roster, the Washington Nationals opted for two unusual trios: They will begin the season with three left-handed relievers and three catchers.
To get to the 25-man limit, the Nationals optioned right-handers Jason Bergmann and Garrett Mock to Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday and reassigned right-handers Jesus Colome and Jordan Zimmermann and infielder Alex Cintron to minor league camp.
"I have done everything that was asked of me. Pitched well," Bergmann said. "I had every indication I had a good chance of making the team."
Zimmermann earned a spot in the Nationals' rotation, but they won't need a fifth starter until April 19, so he will open the season at Syracuse.
Earning roster spots: right-hander Julian Tavarez, left-hander Wil Ledezma and catcher Josh Bard, whose contracts were selected Saturday.
"It's good to have three left-handers, especially in our division," assistant general manager Mike Rizzo said before Saturday night's exhibition finale against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park.
Bard got the final roster spot for a position player, although someone will have to make room for Zimmermann eventually. Bard signed a minor league deal March 21, a few days after being released by the Boston Red Sox.
"We like what we've seen so far. He's a switch hitter who can be a pinch hitter, second catcher," manager Manny Acta said. "We decided that we wanted to take an extended look at him."
Bergmann, who has started and relieved in the majors, will be in the bullpen at Syracuse, while Mock will be used as the closer.
"We're grooming him as a closer," Rizzo said.
Both of those pitchers had options left, allowing the Nationals to send them down without first trying to pass them through waivers. Bergmann said he was told that played a role in the decision.
"Bergie needs to be more consistent, get ahead in the count," Rizzo said. "He has a propensity to walk the leadoff man in innings quite a bit."
Ledezma went a combined 0-2 with a 4.17 ERA for San Diego and Arizona in 2008.
"He's got a power arm from the left side. I can see why he keeps getting chances. I hope this will be a long stop for him, that he can just take off," Acta said. "He's a guy that we don't view only as a situational lefty. He can go out there and overpower right-handers, too."
Notes: Nationals 1B Nick Johnson was scratched from Saturday's lineup so he could fly to Miami to be with his 5-month-old son, who was taken to the hospital after hurting his head. "He's all right," Johnson said. "I just want to be with him and make sure everything's all right." He said he'll be at Washington's workout Sunday in Miami; the Nationals open the regular season Monday at the Marlins. ... Rizzo said a trade before opening day is still possible. "We're always available. The door's always open. My phone never shuts off," he said. "We are in conversations with a number of teams on a number of issues."
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