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Washington Nationals select contract of Matt Belisle, add reliever to 40-Man roster

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The Washington Nationals announced this morning that they selected the contract of 35-year-old reliever Matt Belisle, adding the veteran right-hander to the 40-Man roster after he signed a minor league deal with the Nats this winter.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported on Twitter on Monday that Washington's skipper Dusty Baker said the Nationals were going to add 35-year-old reliever Matt Belisle to the roster as part of the Opening Day bullpen.

He was added to the 40-Man roster this morning as the Nationals made the news official with an announcement on Twitter.

Belisle, who has history with Baker from Cincinnati, signed a minor league deal with the Nationals this winter, and had the right to opt out if he didn't make the Nats' Opening Day roster.

Baker told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Mark Zuckerman on Monday, they wanted Belisle in the bullpen.

"We want him on the team," Baker said.

"It's up to ... there's some contractual stuff that I don't understand, don't need to understand."

In six appearances and 6 ⅓ innings pitched this Spring, Belisle, a veteran of 12 major league seasons, has given up four hits, a walk and three runs, all earned, holding opposing hitters to a combined .182 AVG.

"I've known him from before and I've faced him many times," Baker said, as quoted by MLB.com's Jamal Collier.

"He looked like the same Matt Belisle. … He got to Colorado and he settled on being a reliever, and he settled on being a very good reliever. Like I said, if you can pitch certain places, none more of a test to that than Colorado."

In 34 appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015, the right-hander put up a 2.67 ERA, a 3.64 FIP, 15 walks (4.01 BB/9) and 25 Ks (6.68 K/9) in 33 ⅔ innings pitched.

Belilsle dealt with elbow issues, however, which led to him making just four appearances late after he went on the DL in June. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in October.

Over the course of his career, the right-hander, who transitioned to relief work full-time in 2009 (outside of one start for the Rockies in 2014), has thrown a total of 788 major league innings with a 4.34 ERA, a 3.82 FIP, 2.26 BB/9 and 6.85 K/9 overall and a 3.89 ERA, a 3.42 FIP, 2.23 BB/9, 7.26 K/9 and a .270/.322/.403 line against over 544 IP in relief.

The addition of Belisle to the Nationals' bullpen leaves three pitchers, Sean Burnett, Trevor Gott and Blake Treinen in the mix for the final bullpen spot, if the Nats go with seven relievers, though Baker has suggested they could start the season with eight since only four starters will be needed with the days off early in the schedule. Burnett reportedly has an April 1st opt-out in the minor league deal he signed this winter, while Gott and Treinen have options available...