VIERA - The Nationals are prepared to head into the season with only one lefty - Sean Burnett - in the bullpen.
Six players were cut today. Five were optioned to the minor leagues, and Ron Villone was released.
Manager Jim Riggleman admitted it was tough telling Villone he was being let go, but was confident Ron would pitch in the major leagues this year.
"He did a good job for us last year," he said. "When someone else has a need for a lefty, he'll get some calls."
Left-hander Aaron Thompson was optioned to Harrisburg, a move Riggleman said had nothing to do with his performance this spring.
"He opened some eyes, and we want him to go down and get stretched out as a starter," he said.
Starter Collin Balester was also sent down to Triple-A Syracuse.
Riggleman isn't terribly concerned about the apparent lack of a second southpaw reliever, referencing Tyler Clippard's job against left-handed hitters last year.
Forty-five players remain in big league camp. The Nationals play the Braves tonight at 7:00 p.m. on MASN.