Clippard designated for assignment as Abbott moves to bullpen

SEATTLE – Needing to clear a spot on their pitching staff for returning starter Erick Fedde, the Nationals opted to shift Cory Abbott to the bullpen and designate Tyler Clippard for assignment, likely ending the popular veteran’s second stint with the organization on a sour note.

Clippard could potentially return to Triple-A Rochester if he clears waivers, but manager Davey Martinez suggested the move was made in part to give the 37-year-old more time to catch on with another franchise and finish out the season.

The Nationals’ all-time leader in appearances with 418, Clippard returned to the organization this spring more than seven years after he last pitched for them. A stalwart of their bullpen from 2008-14, he went on to have a long career as one of baseball’s most reliable and durable relievers while pitching for 10 different teams.

The Nats hoped to rekindle some old magic and enjoy a feel-good story when they signed Clippard to a minor league deal in March, but it didn’t come close to working out as hoped. After spending three months performing well at Rochester, he finally was called up in mid-July but made only one appearance before landing on the injured list with a groin strain. He returned healthy two weeks ago but was scored upon in two of his three outings while seeing very little action.

Clippard pitched a scoreless inning during Saturday’s 2-1 loss in San Diego, and that proved to be his final appearance before he was informed of the news today in Seattle.

“One of the toughest things in the business for me is having to do that, especially when the guy is so respectful and has had an unbelievable career,” Martinez said. “Those things are tough, but we’re trying to look at some guys for the future, and that’s the only reason we had to make that decision.”

The Nationals bullpen has become an unexpected strength, with more quality depth than they’ve had in some time. That eight-man unit is now made up of Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Hunter Harvey, Steve Cishek, Victor Arano, Erasmo Ramirez, recently acquired lefty Jake McGee and now Abbott, who was bumped from the rotation for now.

“We feel like Cory can help us here in the future,” Martinez said of the 26-year-old right-hander. “The decision was tough, but something (general manager Mike Rizzo) and I talked about and something we felt we had to do.”

The Nationals also officially recalled Riley Adams from Triple-A today, one day after they announced they had optioned Tres Barrera to Rochester in a swap of backup catchers.

Adams spent nearly three months on the big league roster to begin the season, backing up No. 1 catcher Keibert Ruiz, but was sent down at the end of June with a .192 batting average, three homers, five RBIs and a .605 OPS over 88 plate appearances. He got far more regular playing time in Rochester, serving as the Red Wings’ No. 1 catcher, and feels like his game is in a better place now as he returns to the majors.

“You never want to get sent down,” Adams said. “It’s not the best feeling. But I saw it as an opportunity to go down there and get at-bats and get as many reps as possible. I tried to take advantage as much as I could. I’m just happy to be back now.”

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