Manager Dusty Baker explained the reasoning behind calling back up right-hander Joe Ross to start tonight's series opener against the Seattle Mariners and sending outfielder Brian Goodwin to Triple-A Syracuse.
Baker said Ross' velocity is starting to get back to where it was when he was successful last season.
"Well, I just heard his velocity was back up and he had maintained that velocity," Baker said. "His arm slot was better. Mike (Maddux) gave him some arm things to do. Our fitness staff gave him some conditioning things to do even though he's in great shape. We just wanted him to get more flexibility and be in even better shape."
Baker gave further detail as to why it was Ross who was moved to start tonight after Jacob Turner had started the last time the No. 5 starter was needed.
"He completed those things and we felt that it would serve our team better if we put Turner in the bullpen," Baker said. "Because he's a capable starter and reliever. Joe has never been in the bullpen, so we thought it would serve our team better to have Joe start and have Turner in the bullpen to give us some length."
What role will Jacob Turner play in the bullpen? Is he a bridge reliever, a long man or an emergency starter? Baker said it might be a lot of different responsibilities because the bullpen is in a state of flux after some valleys the last few weeks.
"We are going to use him as necessary," Baker said. "Depends on the score, depends what the starter does. I know everybody wants to have a definite role when we are going to use people, but we haven't had that yet. I'd like to get into that, but we're still in the process of trying to discover these things with the personnel that we have.
"Because it doesn't look like anybody is going to give us anything, so we got to try figure out how to use the people that we have. Even though we have blown some games, there are some people in baseball that would trade places with us in a minute. That's not bad for a team that's trying to figure it out."
Goodwin was sent back to Syracuse. The last few times the Nationals have moved a pitcher, it has been a pitcher who was sent back to Triple-A. Baker said the club opted for a different approach this time based on the need.
"We decided that we needed the extra arm," Baker said. "It wasn't an easy decision to send anybody out. I told Goodie just go down and play his butt off, and then when an opportunity comes, I'd welcome him asking him to come back. That's always a tough decision to send guys out, but there's got to be somebody. I mean the last three times it's been (Matt) Grace."