Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore was first with the news that the Washington Nationals granted reliever Luis Ayala's request for a release after the Nats decided that they were going to cut the 36-year-old, nine-year veteran:
Luis Ayala cut today. He asked for and was granted his release. Hopes to catch on elsewhere— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) March 19, 2014
The Nationals have since confirmed the report via Twitter:
The #Nats have granted Luis Ayala his unconditional release.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 19, 2014
Ayala, who pitched for the Nationals from 2005-2008, signed a minor league deal to return to the Nationals in the first week of February and was in camp competing for a role in the crowded Nats' bullpen. In six Grapefruit League innings this spring, Ayala allowed 10 hits and nine runs, all earned while walking two and striking out three.
New Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked Ayala up earlier this spring, telling reporters the righty was in the mix for one of the available spots in the 2014 'pen. "He's certainly one of the guys we're considering and he pitched well," Williams said. "He's got experience closing games, seventh, eighth inning, so that's good. It's good to have somebody out there with that type of experience that simply does what he does and trusts that we're going to make the play behind him."
With the decision to move Ross Detwiler to the pen, however, there appears to be just one remaining opening with a number of relievers competing. Ryan Mattheus and Ross Ohlendorf are behind this spring as they recover from injuries. Tanner Roark could end up in the pen if he doesn't make the rotation.
Right-handers Christian Garcia, Manny Delcarmen, Blake Treinen, Aaron Barrett and lefties Mike Gonzalez and Xavier Cedeno are fighting for the seventh spot alongside the likes of Craig Stammen, Jerry Blevins, Detwiler, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano.
The Nationals take on the Houston Astros tonight in a 6:05 pm EDT game that is being aired on MASN.
• Here's the Nats' lineup for tonight's game: