Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson joked earlier this Spring that he had decided to keep an open mind about roster decisions concerning his bullpen after he heard that 6'4'', 250 lb right-hander Cole Kimball was unhappy to learn that he had no shot at making the Opening Day roster. The 27-year-old reliever is still working his way back from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, but he didn't like hearing that the bullpen was all-but set before Spring Training even began.
"I'll keep an open mind on [Cole] Kimball," Davey Johnson joked, , "Since he was mad at me when I said that barring injury there probably wasn't going to be that many spots open."
The Nats' 70-year-old skipper told reporters that Kimball's "chest started coming out" when he heard the news that he essentially had no chance to make the pen. Though he said nothing to Johnson, the reliever did talk to pitching coach Steve McCatty about his concerns. Johnson said at the time that he was impressed with how hard Kimball had worked to get where he was this Spring.
"A lot of people in the organization didn't think he would come back," the Nationals' manager explained, "But he showed a lot of improvement from his first outing to his second outing, looked freer, more relaxed, and the ball was coming out better out of his hand, so that's good news."
In 6.1 IP in Grapefruit League action, Kimball, who debuted in the majors in May of 2011 and made 12 appearances before the injury shelved him, gave up three hits, three walks and two runs while striking out seven. He learned this morning, however, that he'd been optioned to the Nationals' top affiliate to start the season. The Nats announced this afternoon that they had optioned Kimball to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League and also noted that they had re-assigned right-handed pitcher Jeremy Accardo to minor league camp.
Accardo, 31, gave up 13 hits, three walks and five runs, four earned in 7.0 IP in which he struck out five. The Nationals signed the veteran right-hander to a minor league deal in early February.