With just two exhibition games remaining, Dusty Baker told reporters this afternoon that the Washington Nationals would announce their final roster cuts after tonight's game against the Minnesota Twins.
"We're going to notify the guys after the game," he explained. "We would have done it before, but Mike [Rizzo] is suffering with kind of a bad back, so he had to go see the doctor, so we'll do it after the game."
There was speculation that the Nationals might open the season with an eight-man bullpen since they wouldn't need a fifth starter until the second week of the schedule, but Baker said that was probably not going to happen.
"What we decided to do is put a couple of starters in the bullpen for the first couple of days," Baker said.
"Just to have continuity and to have... there's something to being on the Opening Day roster instead of being left behind in Florida and feeling part of the team.
"It's a privilege and an honor to be out there, because everybody remembers Opening Day. And they're all different and wondering what the year is going to be like and a lot of things going through your mind."
So, a reporter asked, he was going with a seven-man bullpen and five-man bench at the start?
"Yes," Baker said.
After tonight's win over the Twins, the Nationals announced their final roster decisions.
Sean Burnett, Trevor Gott and Blake Treinen were in the running for the final spot in the bullpen. Burnett told reporters he didn't make the team.
The Nats announced that Gott, and Matt den Dekker, who was battling for the final bench spot, were both optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, meaning Treinen got the last spot in the pen:
The #Nats have optioned OF Matt den Dekker and RHP Trevor Gott to Triple-A Syracuse.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 2, 2016
The Nationals also announced that they selected outfielder Chris Heisey's contract and placed right-handed reliever Aaron Barrett on the 60-Day DL:
Additionally, the #Nats have selected the contract of OF Chris Heisey and placed RHP Aaron Barrett on the 60-day Disabled List.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 2, 2016
So that means the 2016 bullpen on Opening Day is: Jonathan Papelbon (CL), Shawn Kelley, Felipe Rivero, Blake Treinen, Yusmeiro Petit, Oliver Perez and Matt Belisle.
And the Nationals' bench is Heisey, Jose Lobaton, Michael Taylor, Clint Robinson and Stephen Drew.