Updated at 12:50 p.m.
JUPITER, Fla. — The Nationals reduced the competition for their final bullpen spot by one this morning, re-assigning Blake Treinen to minor-league camp.
Treinen had been among the biggest revelations of the spring, a right-hander who, in the words of manager Matt Williams, throws "an easy 97" mph. Acquired from the Athletics as part of the Jan. 2013 three-team trade that sent Michael Morse to the Mariners, Treinen started 20 games at Class AA Harrisburg last season and posted a 3.64 ERA.
Treinen pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his first big-league spring training, posting a 4.66 ERA in six appearances. The Nationals, though, will stretch him out to start again now that he's headed back to the minors (likely Class AAA Syracuse), though some in the organization also believe he could become a highly effective short reliever once he reaches the majors.
"We have some depth, certainly in the starting roles," Williams said. "So he may be able to help us in the bullpen as well. We asked him the question this morning, and he likes the bullpen as well. It's hard for a guy that potentially is a top-of-the-rotation starter with his stuff to say: 'Hey, what do you think about this?' But he said he really enjoyed that part of it this spring."
Regardless of his eventual role, Treinen made a significant impression on club officials this spring and is likely to be among the first pitchers considered for a promotion this season.
"We let him know that he is our next wave, if you will," Williams said. "He proved everything he had to prove this spring to us. We're all pleasantly surprised with his progress and the way he threw the baseball."
With Treinen out of the mix, the battle for the final spot in the Nationals' bullpen comes down to right-handers Aaron Barrett, Ryan Mattheus (who missed most of camp with a chest injury and likely won't be ready in time for Opening Day) and Tanner Roark (who is also competing for the No. 5 starter's job), plus left-handers Xavier Cedeno and Michael Gonzalez.