Nats make 2 more cuts, Romero headed north

Nats make 2 more cuts, Romero headed north
March 27, 2013, 5:00 pm
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VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals made another round of cuts following today's 11-2 win over the Braves, sending left-hander Fernando Abad and catcher Carlos Maldonado to minor-league camp.

Manager Davey Johnson said he'll send two more players down after tomorrow's Grapefruit League finale: outfielder Micah Owings and infidler Carlos Rivero (who has already been outrighted to Class AAA Syracuse but has remained in big-league camp).

That will leave only 26 active players on the roster when camp breaks tomorrow evening and the team flies north to Washington. And on that flight will be J.C. Romero, who still has a chance to crack the Opening Day bullpen over Henry Rodriguez.

Johnson approached Romero in the clubhouse after today's game and clued the veteran left-hander in on his travel plans without revealing the ultimate answer: where he'll be come Opening Day.

"Just told me that I'm flying with the team tomorrow," Romero said. "Other than that, I have no clue what's going on."

Though general manager Mike Rizzo said it was "unrealistic" Romero would make the team upon signing the 36-year-old to a minor-league contract on Friday, it has become obvious the Nationals are considering the possibility. There's only one available spot left in the seven-man bullpen, and that spot will either go to Rodriguez or Romero.

Rodriguez has been the Nationals' preference all along, but the right-hander's erratic spring continued today when he entered for the top of the seventh inning and immediately threw five balls before rebounding to complete a scoreless inning.

Johnson said Rodriguez, who has been dealing with minor elbow soreness, will throw a bullpen session tomorrow and then is scheduled to pitch in Friday's exhibition game against the Yankees at Nationals Park. It appears the club will wait until after that game to decide whether he makes the Opening Day roster, whether he lands on the disabled list or whether he'll be designated for assignment. (Rodriguez, who is out of options, can't be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers.)

Waiting in the wings will be Romero, who tossed his second scoreless inning in three days this afternoon, though he was less sharp this time than he was in retiring the side against the Astros on Monday. The journeyman lefty came to camp knowing he'd likely have to re-establish himself at Class AAA, but he might yet find himself back in the big leagues on Opening Day.

With most of his stuff still at home in Alabama, Romero figures he'll just load up a couple of suitcases in the trunk of his car and ship it to D.C. tomorrow like everyone else. Whether he stays there and summons the rest of his possessions remains to be seen.

"Real crazy, real crazy," he said. "But it's part of the game. It comes with the territory."