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Washington Nationals Option RHP Cole Kimball, OF Corey Brown And 1B Chris Marrero To Triple-A, C Derek Norris To Double-A.

[1:38 pm EDT Update]: In a press release that just came out from the Nats, it was announced that 22-year-old catcher Derek Norris was re-assigned to Double-A Harrisburg in addition to the three moves discussed below, lowering the Nationals' roster to 38 players. Norris hit in 3 for 15 at bats this Spring.

In discussing the professional atmosphere the Washington Nationals were bringing to Spring Training this year with MASN's Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo during an ST broadcast last week, Principal Owner Mark Lerner said that there has been a "different air" about the Nats' camp this year from the start, and, "For the first time ever you're going to see some very tough cuts in the last week and true major leaguers, any of them can make it, but I think that's a great sign for us that it's getting tougher and tougher to make the team." The cuts that were announced today were not necessarily unexpected, but it is still a tough process to go through for young players who might hold out hope that they have a chance of unseating one of the more established veterans from their spots on the Nats' roster. 

This afternoon, the Nationals announced that they'd sent first baseman and '06 1st Round pick Chris Marrero, outfielder Corey Brown and reliever Cole Kimball to minor league camp. All three are expected to start the season in Triple-A Syracuse. Marrero, 22, posted a .294/.350/.450 slash line with Double-A Harrisburg last year, his fifth in the Nats' organization, and hit in 8 of 21 at bats (.381.,435/.476) with two doubles in 12 games this Spring.

Brown, who suffered an ankle sprain early this Spring, was acquired from the A's along with right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez in the deal that sent Josh Willingham to Oakland. The 25-year-old '07 1st Round pick was expected to start the season at Triple-A as D.C. GM MIke Rizzo explained to the press immediately after he was acquired this winter as's Mark Zuckerman reported in an article on the post-trade press conference entitled, "Rizzo, Beane, Willingham speak":

"I believe that Brown will come to major-league camp; we'll see what we have there. But I foresee him starting at Triple-A and helping us in the big leagues in the near future."

Cole Kimball, 25, a hard-throwing right-hander who caught everyone's attention with his velocity this Spring, pitched at Class-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg last season, walking 4.5 BB/9, but striking out 11.6 K/9 with 12.3 K/9 after he made the jump to the Senators. The reliever allowed just five hits and 1 ER in 8.2 IP this Spring in which he walked three and K'd eight.'s Bill Ladson (@washingnats) wrote on Twitter this morning that, "RHP Cole Kimball took news of his demotion hard." In an interview on MLB Network Radio this afternoon, however, Mr. Ladson said he thinks more young guys like Kimball, " big players on this team," in the near future.