General Manager Mike Rizzo first raised the possibility of 25-year-old, 2010 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis pitching out of the bullpen in the majors in 2013 in a mid-November Washington Post article by Adam Kilgore in which the Nats' GM mentioned the pitcher as an in-house option should the Washington Nationals fail to find the relief pitching they were after on the market this winter.
"You got some lefties like [Sammy] Solis who could go to the bullpen if he had to, if you needed him to,'" Rizzo told the WaPost reporter. "'You’ve got more depth in the minor leagues, some more quality lefties.'"
Solis, who has made just one relief appearance in four minor league seasons, returned from Tommy John surgery to pitch for the High-A Potomac Nationals this past season.
The 6'5'' left-hander made 13 appearances, 12 as a starter, posting a 3.43 ERA, a 3.48 FIP, 19 walks (2.97 BB/9) and 40 Ks (6.24 K/9) in 57 2/3 IP. He went to the Arizona Fall League for the third time, and put up a 2.17 ERA, a 2.48 FIP, seven walks (2.17 BB/9) and 29 Ks in 29 IP over which he had a 0.69 ERA against lefties.
After the Doug Fister deal which sent 22-year-old lefty Robbie Ray to the Detroit Tigers, Solis was the top-ranked left-hander in the Nationals' organization on Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects list for 2014.
Asked about the possibility of making his MLB debut this season, just two years after he injured his elbow in the AFL, Solis told reporters this winter he was willing to do whatever he was asked if it meant pitching for the Nationals.
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"I'm willing to be shortstop if I have to," Solis joked. "Honestly, I think I'm finally ready to make an impact with the team. I'm just working hard, keeping my head down and let the front office make the decisions."
Just the possibility excited the southpaw.
"It's very exciting," he said. "My whole career it's been stop and go, stop and go, and now I think I'm 100% and finally ready."
Solis threw for the first time this spring in a March 2nd Grapefruit League game against Miami, giving up three hits in two scoreless innings. Back spasms have sidelined him since, however, with Matt Williams explaining to reporters, including MASN's Dan Kolko earlier this week that once a pitcher misses time this early in the season it takes a little while to build back up to getting on the mound:
"'We're making sure that we progress him,' Williams said. 'Any time you're out a few days this time of year, then you need to get back on a mound, back (in the) bullpen, progress him the right way. He's good, though.'"
Washington Post writer James Wagner reported on Thursday that Solis would throw a bullpen session that day as he worked his way back. The WaPost reporter wrote a profile of the left-hander Saturday night in which he noted that Solis will make his second outing of the spring in Sunday's Grapefruit League game with the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, Florida's Osceola County Stadium. Check it out HERE.
The Nationals have Xavier Cedeno in camp competing for a spot in the bullpen as a second left-hander in addition to Jerry Blevins. Mike Gonzalez was signed recently, and made his first appearance for the Nationals this spring this week. Ross Detwiler could potentially work as a reliever if he doesn't make the rotation. As he told reporters this winter and told the WaPost's Mr. Wagner again in the article tonight, if he gets the call, Solis thinks he's finally ready to contribute at the major league level.