As confident as they insisted they were using their right-handers against left-handed hitters, the Washington Nationals still went out and signed a number of potential late-inning lefties this winter. Fernando Abad, Bill Bray, J.C. Romero and Xavier Cedeno all joined the organization. Zach Duke was brought back, after spending most of the 2012 season in Syracuse, to take Tom Gorzelanny's job as the left-handed middle reliever Davey Johnson was known to like having in his pen. Romero had an up-and-down 2012 season, but he was coming off a strong showing pitching for the Gigantes de Carolina in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico, where he was (1-1) with seven saves, a 2.35 ERA, five walks (2.93 BB/9) and 16 Ks (9.39 K/9) in 15.1 IP and the World Baseball Classic where he gave up four hits, three walks and two earned runs in 4.2 IP for the Puerto Rican team, the eventual runner-up in the international tournament.
The Nationals told Romero when they signed him that he would start in the minors, but he had an opt-out in his contract that allowed him to leave the organization if he wasn't on the major league roster by June 1st, as the Washington Post's James Wagner reported last week. Romero had been on the DL since early May, but he had a 2.84 ERA, four walks and 16 Ks in the 12.2 innings he pitched for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal was the first one to report this afternoon that Romero had decided to opt out of his deal with the Nats:
Romero told the WaPost's Mr. Wagner's colleague Adam Kilgore that he felt he had to move on. "Pretty much, there’s nothing more that I could prove in Triple A," he was quoted explaining this afternoon. As for the other lefties with the Nationals. Bill Bray too is on the DL. Fernando Abad has impressed since being called up to the majors and Zach Duke has struggled in his role as the Nationals' middle reliever.