Treinen gets final bullpen spot, Heisey will be right-handed pinch-hitter

Right-hander Blake Treinen has secured the final spot in the Nationals bullpen, while veteran Chris Heisey has claimed a role as a backup outfielder and right-handed pinch-hitter.

After Friday night's 4-3 win in an exhibition game against the Twins at Nationals Park, the Nats made a series of roster moves that finalized the composition of manager Dusty Baker's seven-man bullpen and made the bench picture much clearer.

Outfielder Matt den Dekker and right-hander Trevor Gott were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals also placed right-hander Aaron Barrett on the 60-day disabled list and selected the contract of Heisey.

blake-treinen-sidebar.pngTreinen, who picked up the victory with a perfect eighth inning Friday night, finished the spring campaign without allowing a run over 9 2/3 innings spread over five appearances and including two starts. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out nine.

"He figured it out," Baker said of the right-hander. "I tell you, his sinker's something. His slider is working big-time. He's throwing the ball well. ... He knew and (pitching coach) Mike (Maddux) knew what we had to work on in spring training. I tell you, whenever somebody talked trade with us, they always mentioned Treinen."

Baker hinted that Treinen's strong spring could vault him into regular eighth-inning work. Coming into spring training, it was assumed that newcomer Shawn Kelley, another righty, would work as the primary setup man to closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Making Treinin a one-inning reliever instead of a multiple-inning option out of the bullpen would also ensure he was more available to Baker.

"We'd rather not throw Blake, if we could, multiple innings because that kind of negates him for the next day. ... But the game's going to dictate that situation and who the hitters are," Baker said.

Lefty Sean Burnett, who was attempting a comeback after his second Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, had a spectacular spring, posting a 0.00 ERA in nine relief outings covering 8 2/3 innings. He yielded six hits, walked a batter and struck out seven.

However, Burnett told reporters that he had been informed that he would not make the club.

The odds were stacked against the 33-year-old, who had been limited to 10 2/3 major league innings over the past three seasons since leaving D.C. following the 2012 season after a four-year run as a solid piece of the Nats bullpen. With Felipe Rivero returning and Oliver Perez signed as a free agent, the Nationals didn't have room for a third southpaw.

Papelbon, Treinen, Kelley, Yusmeiro Petit and Matt Belisle will be the right-handers out of the 'pen, with Rivero and Perez the lefties.

Burnett told reporters that he would be consulting with his agent on possible opportunities. Several clubs had expressed interest in Burnett after his strong spring showing.

Heisey, 31, in camp as a non-roster invitee on a minor league deal, was a long shot to make the 25-man roster. But Baker's familiarity with him and Heisey's career .282/.338/.599 slash line as a pinch-hitter weighed heavily in his favor. Heisey played five years in Cincinnati from 2010-14, the first four with Baker as his manager. In 2011, Heisey had his best major league season, with 18 home runs and 50 RBIs.

Heisey is hitting .233 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 23 spring games, covering 43 at-bats, third-most on the Nationals behind Michael A. Taylor's 50 and Daniel Murphy's 47. Heisey apparently beat out veteran Reed Johnson for the right-handed outfield/bench spot. Like Heisey, Johnson was in camp on a minor league deal as a non-roster invitee.

Catcher Jose Lobaton, infielder Stephen Drew, first baseman/outfielder Clint Robinson and Taylor have the other bench spots locked down.

Nats face Twins again in exhibition finale
Nationals lineup vs. Twins (with Twins lineup)

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