Washington Nationals Trim Roster To 28: LHP Fernando Abad And C Carlos Maldonado Re-Assigned To Minor League Camp - J.C. Romero Or Henry Rodriguez?

Al Messerschmidt

The Washington Nationals announced after today's game that they had re-assigned both left-hander Fernando Abad and catcher Carlos Maldonado to minor league camp, trimming their roster to 28 players with less than a week remaining before Opening Day. Will J.C. Romero or Henry Rodriguez make the cut?

The chatter out of Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium today after the Washington Nationals' home-run filled, 11-2 win over the Atlanta Braves had to do with the final spot in the Nats' Opening Day bullpen. 26-year-old right-hander Henry Rodriguez was shaky again, but successfully completed a scoreless inning of relief work this afternoon, walking two and giving up a hit but no runs in the seventh. After Rodriguez, 36-year-old lefty J.C. Romero threw a scoreless eighth, surrendering a walk and a hit but no runs in the second outing after he signed with the Nationals following a strong showing for Puerto Rico in the WBC. The talk the last few days has been that though Romero was initially told he would likely start the season at Triple-A in the Nats' system, with Rodriguez struggling as he recovers from elbow surgery last summer, the veteran lefty might actually have a shot.

After today's game the Nationals announced two more roster moves that make the possibility of Romero making the Opening Day roster seem even more likely, though still not official:

Abad, 27, had walked two and K'd eight in 7.0 IP this Spring, giving up five hits and two runs, both earned, in eight appearances, over which he had a 2.57 ERA. The former Houston Astros' starter/reliever was the last left-hander remaining in the Nats' bullpen other than Romero, so if the Nationals do go with a late-inning lefty instead of trusting their right-handers to get lefties out, it looks like it will be Romero.

Here's what the reporters on the scene had to say about Davey Johnson's post game comments:

Henry Rodriguez or J.C. Romero? If Rodriguez's elbow is still an issue, the Nats could, of course, start him on the DL to keep Romero around. The last roster decision of the Spring looks like it will come down to the final exhibition game...

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