According to reports this afternoon, the Washington Nationals announced that 27-year-old right-hander Craig Stammen and 26-year-old catcher Jesus Flores have been sent to Minor League camp and optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. Stammen, a starter for the Nats last year before he was moved to the bullpen, posted a 5.13 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 5.98 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9 in 35 games, 19 starts and 128.0 IP last season.
Flores, finally healthy after two years spent rehabbing a series of shoulder issues, put together a .322/.365/.460 slash line with 6 doubles, 2 HR's and 16 RBI's in 25 games and 87 at bats in the Venezuelan Winter League in first sustained action in over two years, but he entered camp as a distant third in a two-man race for the job of catching alongside future Hall of Fame backstop Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.
Wilson Ramos, who put up a .316/.341/.494 line with 3 doubles and 3 HR's in 20 games in the Nats' system after he was acquired from Minnesota last July, hit in 14 of 48 at bats (.292) with 4 2B's and his first major league HR after his call-up to the nation's capital in last September. The 23-year-old catcher impressed this winter as well, with .322/.390/.567 line, 17 doubles, 9 HR's and 36 RBI's in 47 games and 180 at bats with the Tigres de Aragua in the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional, before arriving in Viera, Florida this Spring and hitting in 10 for 37 at bats with two doubles and a HR in 15 games to Flores' 3 for 24, one and one.
Flores being sent to Minor League camps isn't much of a surprise, but the question now becomes how long he remains there if he proves he can stay healthy and once again become an everyday catcher. Stammen (2-1 in 5 GS and 8.2 IP this Spring in which he gave up 11 hits, five runs, four earned and three walks), was simply boxed out of both the starting rotation and the bullpen this Spring.
• More info on both moves when it is available. The Nationals' roster is now down to 36 players.