Nats trade for Speigner. No, really ...
So the Levale Speigner situation is cleared up. The Nationals made a deal with the Twins to obtain their own pitcher. Strange, huh? Thus are the vagaries of Rule 5.
The Nationals traded Class AAA outfielder Darnell McDonald, the former Orioles' prospect, to the Twins to get Speigner back. To review: The Nationals designated Speigner for assignment last week. Because they selected him in the Rule 5 draft in December, that meant he 1) had to pass through waivers, meaning none of the other 29 teams claimed him (they would have had to keep him on their major league rosters, too), and 2) if he cleared, they would have to offer him back to his original club, the Twins, for $25,000 - half of what they originally paid to make the pick.
And if none of that happens, they can trade for him. That's what's happened.
McDonald signed with the Nationals as a minor-league free agent last November. He was hitting .315 with two homers and 41 RBI in 73 games for the Clippers when he was traded. He was playing well enough that had Brandon Watson not had a 43-game hitting streak, McDonald might have been called up earlier this week.
McDonald, though, is 28, and not a part of the future here. Speigner - despite his significant struggles - might be. He'll now be able to go to Columbus and try to develop both his curveball and his slider and work on locating his fastball. He went 2-3 with an 8.78 ERA for the Nationals, though his ERA was just 3.77 as a reliever, which is what the club sees him as long-term.
Roger Bernadina was promoted from Class AA Harrisburg to Columbus to take McDonald's spot on the roster there. Bernadina hit .282 with a .358 on-base percentage for the Senators, and he's just 22. There are going to be moves all the time now, it appears.
Robert Fick: Manager Manny Acta said Fick is supposed to get in touch with GM Jim Bowden today about whether Fick will join the club Monday or Tuesday in Atlanta. He left the team last week to deal with the loss of his mother, who died of lung cancer. That provided space for Watson.
So the club will have a choice when Fick comes back. Will they try to send Watson down to Columbus? He might not clear waivers, and he doesn't have options left. The hot choice now - what with his struggles at the plate and getting nailed at third base last night - would be Nook Logan. But while Acta said this morning the club wants Logan to do better, he added, "We're not giving up on him by any means. That's why he's still here. We still think he can turn a corner and become a very usable player."
Sooooooo ... what does that mean? Someone has to go when Fick comes back, and it's not likely to be Fick himself. I'll see what I can find out.
Also: Had a long talk with Randy St. Claire about a number of issues this morning. For one thing, both he and catcher Brian Schneider thought the pitch that Chad Cordero threw to Victor Martinez for the three-run homer that won Saturday night's game wasn't that bad. It was a fastball almost off the plate and down. The key: Martinez was looking for it, and he lunged out there to get it and drive it. Boz and I were just talking about it, too, and Boz's point is this: Cordero should knock guys back off the plate before he goes down and away like that. There's no way Martinez hits that homer if he thinks there's a chance Cordero comes high and tight. Boz intends to write some about this in tomorrow's column, which should be interesting.
Shawn Hill: Talked to him a bit. He's hoping for a cortisone shot and that's it. He knows, though, that it's possible he could be going for Round 2 of ligament replacement surgery. That would simply be devastating. We'll know more tomorrow.
Bergmann: St. Claire would like five good innings from him. Bergmann said his stuff is the same as it was when he went down with elbow inflammation, so that's good. Steve McCatty, the pitching coach for Columbus, provided rave reviews of Bergmann's outings down there to St. Claire. With the news on Hill and Patterson being iffy at best, Bergmann's role on the staff becomes enormous. As he told me before the game, "The time for being hurt is over." Well put.
Tribe lineup, if you're interested:
Sizemore - 8
Blake - 5
Martinez - 2
Hafner - 3
Peralta - 6
Nixon - 9
Gutierrez - 7
Barfield - 4
Westbrook - 1
I may check in during the game. Tomorrow, though, is the big news day, what with updates on Patterson and Hill. If you're so inclined, keep your fingers crossed.
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