Relievers Hoover, Cordero among today’s roster cuts

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Nationals made another round of cuts following today’s split-squad games, trimming their camp roster by six.

Optioned to Triple-A Fresno were right-handers Austin Voth, Jimmy Cordero, Kyle McGowin and Tanner Rainey. Re-assigned to minor league camp were right-hander J.J. Hoover and outfielder Hunter Jones.

The moves bring more clarity to the few remaining competitions for spots on the opening roster (in the bullpen and on the bench) as the Nationals enter the final week of spring training.

Five bullpen jobs are presumably locked up: closer Sean Doolittle, right-handers Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough, left-handers Matt Grace and Tony Sipp. That leaves two more jobs, with 2018 contributors Justin Miller and Wander Suero likely frontrunners.

Rainey-Pitch-Spring-sidebar.jpgHoover, Cordero and Rainey all entered camp with a chance to make an impression and earn a spot in the bullpen but have now all been eliminated from the competition. Hoover, in particular, was praised by manager Davey Martinez early in camp but was cut today after posting a 4.76 ERA in seven appearances.

Cordero, who debuted for the Nationals last summer, allowed five runs and 13 baserunners in only five innings this spring. Rainey, acquired from the Reds in December for Tanner Roark, allowed seven runs and 10 baserunners in only 4 2/3 innings.

Others still in big league camp who could challenge Miller and Suero for those final two bullpen jobs are right-hander Austen Williams (zero runs, two baserunners allowed in 6 1/3 innings), left-hander Vidal Nuño III (two runs, seven baserunners in 4 2/3 innings), right-hander Scott Copeland (zero runs, five baserunners in 8 2/3 innings) and Henderson Alvarez III (three earned runs, 12 baserunners in seven innings).

Right-handers Koda Glover and Aaron Barrett also remain in big league camp, but Glover has not pitched in nearly a month due to a forearm strain and will open the season on the injured list, while Barrett is expected to open the season in the minors so the club can monitor his workload as he attempts to complete a long comeback from Tommy John surgery and then a broken right arm.

Voth and McGowin figure to open the season in Fresno’s rotation and will be among those considered for a promotion when the Nationals need another starter.

Jones was 7-for-31 with five walks in 22 games. His demotion leaves Andrew Stevenson as the only healthy outfielder in big league camp behind starters Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton. With Michael A. Taylor rehabbing from a sprained left knee and hip, Stevenson is the frontrunner to make the opening day roster unless the Nationals go outside the organization to find another outfielder until Taylor is ready to make his season debut.

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