NEW YORK - The Nationals made a flurry of roster moves this afternoon, promoting both infielder Trea Turner and outfielder Michael A. Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse, placing first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with a left ribcage strain and optioning right-hander Lucas Giolito to Syracuse.
The moves address the club’s most glaring need at the moment: healthy position players to fill out a bench. The Nationals played with a three-man bench during last night’s 9-7 loss to the Mets, a dilemma that prevented manager Dusty Baker from making some in-game decisions he might have preferred, especially after Giolito was knocked out in the fourth inning.
Zimmerman goes on the DL two days after injuring himself during a swing against the Brewers, a game in which the struggling veteran went 2-for-3 with a homer. He was unavailable for last night’s series opener against the Mets, and though the Nationals were hopeful the injury wasn’t serious, they couldn’t afford to wait longer to see if he’d be healthy enough to return this weekend.
Taylor was optioned to Syracuse only four days ago, but while league rules require a player to remain in the minors for at least 10 days, there is a provision that allows him to be recalled sooner if he’s replacing a teammate who is going on the DL.
Turner, meanwhile, gets a chance to return to the big leagues for the second time this season, likely with more of an opportunity for playing time than he got during a three-game stint with the Nationals last month while Zimmerman was on paternity leave. Baker could slide Daniel Murphy over to first base, opening up second base for Turner, who also could give Danny Espinosa a day off here and there at shortstop while also subbing in center field (a position he just began learning how to play last week).
Giolito, considered by multiple publications the top pitching prospect in baseball, labored in his second career start last night, lasting only 3 2/3 innings against the same Mets lineup he shut out over four rain-shortened innings in his big league debut. His demotion to Triple-A, though, may be less a response to his most recent outing and more a practical matter: Due to the All-Star break, the Nationals won’t need a fifth starter until July 23. By then, the club could either recall Giolito or activate Joe Ross (who has mild shoulder inflammation) off the DL to take that spot in the rotation.