The Nationals cut three players from their major league camp this morning, optioning starter Shairon Martis to Triple-A Syracuse and re-assigning infielders Pete Orr and Chris Duncan to minor league camp. They're now down to 36 players in camp, but in reality, they're just a few players from having their roster set.
The starting rotation, to pinpoint one example, has just two spots up for grabs, and three (possibly four) pitchers fighting for them.
Manager Jim Riggleman said this morning that John Lannan, Jason Marquis and Garrett Mock will be in the rotation, with two spots still up for grabs.
He said Livan Hernandez, Scott Olsen and Craig Stammen are fighting for those spots, and later mentioned J.D. Martin as still being in consideration for one of the slots, too.
For Olsen especially, this is a key week. The Nationals have said all spring that he'll be in the rotation if he's 100 percent healthy following the shoulder surgery that ended his season last July. But his fastball is still only in the high 80s, several notches below his peak velocity of 91-93 mph. The Nationals could start him on the disabled list, option him to the minors or cut him and save $750,000 if they let him go by March 31.
"I think he's healthy, but I don't think he's 100 percent back yet," Riggleman said. "We've got at least two starts to continue to see him move toward that."
Martis started 5-0 for the Nationals last season, but struggled to attack hitters after that and was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse for the rest of the season. He allowed eight runs in 5 1/3 innings this spring, and Riggleman said pitching coach Steve McCatty told Martis to work on his release point.
"That's pitching coach talk and pitchers' talk. I don't get into all that," Riggleman said. "I don't care what arm slot they throw from if they're getting good results. He just needs to continue to progress... As much as anything, the numbers don't allow him to be with us right now, but I'm confident he can not only come up here and help out in the starting rotation at some point, but also pitch out of the bullpen."