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Garrett Mock named fifth starter; Nationals to keep eight relievers

Manager Jim Riggleman named Garrett Mock the Nationals' fifth starter -- choosing the right-hander over lefty Scott Olsen -- and named the Nationals' bench on Saturday afternoon.

Olsen was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse along with outfielder Roger Bernadina. Infielder Eric Bruntlett and right-handed Mike MacDougal were re-assigned to minor-league camp.

The Nationals' bench will include infielder Cristian Guzman (whom Riggleman did not entirely consider a bench player because Guzman should receive consistent at-bats), catcher Wil Nieves, infielder Alberto Gonzalez, outfielder Willie Tavares and utility player Mike Morse.

The Nationals will open the season with eight relievers in the bullpen. Although Riggleman did not want to name the bullpen by name, in case anything happened in Saturday's home exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, the eight relievers entering the game were lefties Sean Burnett and Jesse English, and right-handed relievers Miguel Batista, Jason Bergmann, Brian Bruney, Matt Capps, Tyler Clippard and Tyler Walker.

But it was the decision about the fifth starter that was the headline story of the day.

"It was a very tough decision," Riggleman said. "Particularly, yesterday, Olsen really threw the ball well. The consensus amongst of all of us -- the coaches, myself, Mike Rizzo -- was that Olsen is really getting close to where he was prior to the trade acquisition last year. He's just not quite there yet as far as 100 percent. He's really close....

"Even though Garrett Mock had a little bit of a rough spring, we're still excited what he can do for us. You never want to be so flip about it to say you can flip a coin as to which one you took. But really, it wavered day-to-day as to which guy we were going to take. Both of them have options, so we can send them to the minor leagues. Whichever one we took, we knew it could be an ever-changing thing. Not just with them, but with anybody else in the rotation, pretty much with the exception of Marquis and Lannan."

The Nationals will only activate four starters at the beginning of the season, so they can keep eight relievers. There are still moves to make (sending players to the disabled list) for the 40-man roster, but that has not yet been announced.

Stay tuned to Nationals Journal for more information.

By Zach Berman  |  April 3, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
 
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Comments

Bad choice with Mock over Olsen, I think. Olsen is starting to look good. Might as well get pitch-perfect in the majors, since his upside is better than Mock.

6 relievers, 7 relievers, 8 relievers. They all stink. The bullpen is going to kill the team, just as it did last year.

Posted by: fischy | April 3, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

When did Olsen pass through revocable waivers? Don't the rules states that he must pass through revocable waivers before he can be optioned to the minors?

Does this mean, that Olsen signed a two-way contract with the Nats?

Posted by: KenzAFan | April 3, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Olsen shows hia arm is OK and Mock struggles then Olsen will be right back, holding the place for SS.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 3, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Are they thinking trade? Mock/Olsen because i'm of the opinion that one of them get's traded, and on another note why send Bernadina to Syracuse he's as good as Morgan defensively speaking soooooooo help me out here what's the plan.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 3, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

agree with SCNatsFan - Mock will pitch himself out of the bigs and Olsen will be back - good call

Posted by: fpcsteve | April 3, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Ed...

Who were they trading? As I stated earlier...they had nothing. They started from scratch. What were they using as trade bait to get anyone/anything of real value? I think you might be over-valuing what they've had to work with.

...and yes, as a former Expos fan, I'm pretty happy with the level of commitment from the FO. I don;t agree with everything, but I also don't see them as holding back. They're building a foundation...once that's ready they can start adding better pieces. I don't like the losing, but that was the position they were put in when the franchise was moved. They're getting there.

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | April 3, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Here is a secret that successful teams know about: if you are willing to take on salary and help a small-market team out with their payroll, you can get more baseball value than you give up. The Nats miss out on these possibilities by only focusing on the bargains. For example, the Nats will wisely picked up Nyger Morgan. But they couldn't afford a Jason Bay when he was traded by the same club to the Sox a couple years back because of his salary.

You can also sometimes get a better prospect in the draft if you are willing to go over slot (Porcello vs. Detwiler, when the Nats regarded Porcello more highly than Detwiler but could not afford Rick).

There are many examples like those, but I give up. You love the Nats and are happy--great. I am happy for you!

Posted by: EdDC | April 3, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Somebody in a key personnel position with the Nationals has gone completely 'round the bend', imo. Mock over Olsen as the #5SP; Taveras over Morse as a RF platoon with Harris; Now they're keeping 12 pitchers, with two off-days in the first two weeks? WTF is going on?

Posted by: BinM | April 3, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Every batter in the NL should be thrilled to see Mock take the mound. Also, with my new glasses, I feel I could hit Walker.

Posted by: djorl | April 3, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Terrible and backwards decision. His numbers are better and he's trending strong while Mock was progessively terrible.

There's something amiss here. If this is Riggleman's call, I'm getting worried even for the short term

Posted by: emw2u | April 3, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

"Worrying" about getting Guzman 400 at bats as a "regular" instead of a utility guy when getting that many for Morse would probably equal 30 doubles 2 triples, possibly 20+ home runs? Putting Guzman in right field to get him at bats? Making sure he bats second? The guy who NEVER WALKS!?

Riggleman IS NOT a baseball HE IS a baseball politcian ... sheesh!

Posted by: periculum | April 3, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Mock over Olsen based on what, 1st week of March?

Bernadina sits down to Wily Taveras?

Did you see the fly ball to left that Willingham couldn't reach? It went for a double. A decent LF would have caught that ball. I think Willingham better way out hit the balls he misses as today he is a big Negative -2 bases.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | April 3, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

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