PITTSBURGH - The Nationals optioned right-hander Collin Balester back to Triple-A Syracuse after tonight's game with the Pirates, making room for reliever Todd Coffey to come off the disabled list tomorrow, the first day he's eligible to return from a left calf strain.
Balester, who had a 2.57 ERA out of the bullpen last year, only pitched twice in his most recent call-up, allowing three runs on Thursday against the Cardinals after turning in two shutout innings in his first appearance. The Nationals feel like he's good enough to pitch in the majors now, but with everyone in their bullpen healthy again, they're in the same situation they were at the beginning of the season; they want to keep veterans like Chad Gaudin, and Rule 5 pick Brian Broderick can't be sent to the minors without a trade with the Cardinals.
Coffey did running drills on Friday, and said he felt fine. He's thrown a couple bullpen sessions this week, and has said he's felt no ill effects from his injury. The Nationals will officially announce their corresponding move tomorrow.