Nationals activate Thompson, demote Adams, DFA Clay

The Nationals made adjustments to their bullpen and their catching corps in advance of tonight’s series opener against the Marlins, activating Mason Thompson off the 60-day injured list, designating Sam Clay for assignment, calling up Tres Barrera from Triple-A and optioning Riley Adams to Rochester.

The bullpen moves bring Thompson back to the big leagues nearly three months after he went down with a right biceps strain only two appearances into the season. The right-hander recently began a rehab assignment and made six total appearances between the rookie Florida Complex League and Triple-A, allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings, striking out 11 without issuing any walks.

Thompson gives manager Davey Martinez another potential setup option to take some of the workload off Carl Edwards Jr. and Kyle Finnegan, who each made four appearances in six days over the last week and each was scored upon during Wednesday’s 8-7 loss to the Pirates.

Clay also pitched Wednesday, his first appearance since getting called back up from Rochester. The left-hander, though, issued a walk and then hit a batter, finally recording an out on a sacrifice bunt before he was pulled by Martinez.

Clay still had minor league options, but the Nationals elected to designate him for assignment, opening a necessary spot on the 40-man roster for Thompson’s return from the 60-day IL. Signed away from the Twins prior to the 2021 season, Clay wound up making 64 total appearances for the Nats, with a 6.02 ERA and 1.682 WHIP.

The swap of catchers brings Barrera back to the big leagues for the first time this season. The 27-year-old, who hit .264 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 30 games for the Nationals in 2021, was batting .256 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 51 games as Rochester’s No. 1 catcher this season.

With Keibert Ruiz getting the majority of the playing time behind the plate in D.C., Adams was limited to one or two starts per week. The 26-year-old was struggling at the plate, batting only .192 with three homers and five RBIs in 27 games, though he was drawing positive reviews for his work with the pitching staff, most notably Patrick Corbin.

In sending Adams down, the Nationals will give him an opportunity to get more consistent playing time as Rochester’s starting catcher. Martinez told reporters there is no plan at the moment to have Adams play first base, something that has been broached as a potential long-term answer for him, particularly if the club trades Josh Bell before the Aug. 2 deadline.

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