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Jason Bergmann designated for assignment

To make room for starting pitcher Scott Olsen, the Nationals today designated relief pitcher Jason Bergmann for assignment. In an effort to improve their shaky bullpen, the Nationals potentially cut ties with a pitcher who has been with the organization continuously since he was drafted in 2002, longer than every player except outfielder Roger Bernadina.

Assuming he would be the victim of Olsen's promotion, Bergmann lingered on a clubhouse couch or at his locker all morning. When bench coach John McLaren called him into Manager Jim Riggleman's office, his preparedness absorbed little of the sting.

"I got fired from my job today," Bergmann said. "It's the hardest thing to deal with. It's probably the worst day of my life right now."

While Bergmann has spent most his time with the Nationals as a middle reliever largely anonymous outside Washington, he holds a unique place in the team's brief history. He is currently the Nationals all-time strikeout leader with 299. He was the first player to locker next to Stephen Strasburg in a major league clubhouse. He was called up the majors Aug. 28, 2005, three days before Ryan Zimmerman.

"It just crossed my mind," Bergmann said, his voice cracking. "This is the only organization I've known. I like it here. I like all the people, the staff, the organization, the owners. I wish it would have worked out a little more right now. We'll see what happens. I could be back here."

While Bergmann would be happy to remain with the Nationals organization, his preference is to hook on with a major league team. The Nationals, General Manager Mike Rizzo said, will explore a trade for Bergmann for the next 10 days, at which point they will be have to place Bergmann on waivers. If no one claims him, the Nationals will not cut him and Bergmann will report to Class AAA Syracuse.

Bergmann allowed four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings spanning four appearances. On opening day, he gave up a grand slam to Placido Polanco on his second pitch of the season. Wednesday night, Bergmann surrendered the home run by Shane Victorino that put the Phillies ahead for good.

"Despite the fact that it was only two innings in four games, the results just haven't been there," Bergmann said. "I know I'm struggling."

"This is a performance-based league," Rizzo said. "Jason just didn't have the consistent outings that we could rely on. The decision just came down, do we take a guy that's throwing well for us because he has options? Or do we go with the best seven guys?"

As the Nationals return to a seven-man bullpen, their relievers may benefit from more regular use. Bergmann referenced the difficulty of pitching in irregular spurts. "I'd love to regain some rhythm and feel," Bergmann said. "I feel the more I pitch, the better I'll get."

"In the games we've used the bullpen in save-situation type games, there's been kind of a flow," Rizzo said. "With one less bullpen guy, certainly there will be more consistent roles. I think it will help guys mentally to prepare."

"Who knows?" Riggleman said. "Maybe if we didn't have eight, he would have gotten more opportunity and been able to pitch better. His days in the big leagues are not over. I can guarantee you that. He's either going to pitch here again, or somebody's going to pick him up."

"I'm a major league pitcher," Bergmann said. "I've been here for some time. Although I didn't have the exact success I wanted, I know I can pitch here. I just have to do it."

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 15, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

Hope Jason lands on his feet--I've always rooted for him. He's been friendly, open & articulate and doesn't make excuses.

Posted by: chiefwj | April 15, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

>>While Bergmann would be happy to remain with the Nationals organization, his preference is to hook on with a major league team.

Good one. Sez it all. Nats aren't a major league team.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Good luck, Jason, keep being an awesome guy. Get your rhythm back and dominate the league, just not for the Phillies.

Posted by: Section506 | April 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

BTW as far as Phillies go, yea we can't beam em, we all get that. Let's just get today's loss over with quickly and all move on with our lives and try to make some hay during the next three series at home against other teams.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

This is a difficult decision, but it is the right one. His control issues are really not a "slump" but something he has battled with his whole career. I think this move really speaks for the accountability that Riggleman has on this team and what a welcome change this is from our previous manager.

Posted by: Tom8 | April 15, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

@doveline

Bergman is hoping to go to a team that will utilize him at the major league level rather than sending him down which is what the NATS will do if no trade occurrs or he clears waivers. There was no inference to be made from Kilgore's report that the NATS are not a major league team except in the mind of one who livers for the rim shot.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | April 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

...can't get out of Philly phast enough! I am sick and tired of watching them circle the bases!

Posted by: 1of9000 | April 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

@doveline

Bergman is hoping to go to a team that will utilize him at the major league level rather than sending him down which is what the NATS will do if no trade occurs or he clears waivers. There was no inference to be made from Kilgore's report that Bergman believes that the NATS are not a major league team except in the mind of one who lives for the rim shot.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | April 15, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@doveline

Bergman is hoping to go to a team that will utilize him at the major league level rather than sending him down which is what the NATS will do if no trade occurs or he clears waivers. There was no inference to be made from Kilgore's report that Bergman believes that the NATS are not a major league team except in the mind of one who lives for the rim shot.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | April 15, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

>>There was no inference to be made from Kilgore's report that Bergman believes that the NATS are not a major league team except in the mind of one who lives for the rim shot.

BADABING BAM~

Posted by: dovelevine | April 15, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Anybody remember the year that Bergmann was a starter and had a game where he kept a no-hitter going into the 8th?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | April 15, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

This is the sad, human side of the business part of baseball. I feel for him - he's always seemed to be a very decent, nice person. (But, I'm also glad Rizzo and Rigglemena took the stance they did to designate him for assignment.)

Posted by: samantha7 | April 15, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

"...can't get out of Philly phast enough! I am sick and tired of watching them circle the bases!"

did you stick around long enough to see Dunn and Zimm circle the bases? :) interesting result today

Posted by: Rogueone | April 16, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

I would be sad to lose Bergmann and hope that we don't. He has shown such flashes of real brilliance, occasionally looking like the second coming of Sandy Koufax, but only until a baserunner makes it to first base (which back when he was a starter sometimes wasn't until the fourth or fifth inning). Then, though, he had to pitch from the stretch. I never in my life saw a major league pitcher suffer such a drop-off in ability from the windup to the stretch.

If he ever learns to pitch from the stretch, watch out! Remember, Sandy Koufax was just a journeyman too until he learned not to overthrow from the stretch. There may come a day when we'll be sorry we lost Bergmann.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 16, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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