You may not have noticed that A.J. Cole had been with the Washington Nationals since Shawn Kelley landed on the DL on June 18th with a right trapezius strain. Cole did not see any action with the Nats over that stretch, and this morning, he was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse, according to an announcement on the Transactions page at the Nationals’ official site.
Cole, 25, made ten starts at Triple-A before he was called up, over which the 2010 4th Round pick was (3-2) with a 5.68 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 22 walks (3.78 BB/9) and 38 Ks (6.54 K/9) in 52 1⁄3 innings pitched.
Cole was optioned back to the Nats’ top minor league affiliate to make room for the return of Wilmer Difo after Dusty Baker talked earlier this week about needing more options off the bench.
Difo, 25, put up a .184/.245/.264 line in 40 games and 94 plate appearances in part-time work off the Nationals’ bench earlier this season and he put up a .175/.267/.225 line in 10 games and 45 PAs at Triple-A after he was optioned out in the second week of June.
Difo saw time in center field with the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate. Will he see time in center in D.C. this weekend?
Baker told reporters in Miami on Wednesday that Michael A. Taylor was unavailable while dealing with an undisclosed injury.
“He’s a little sore,” Baker explained.
“He wasn’t available, that’s why I couldn’t pinch hit for any of my outfielders, because I didn’t have anybody to put out there, and that’s what happens when you’re playing with a four-man bench and one of them is your catcher, so we have to address that as well.”
Bringing Difo back up would seem to do that. He was optioned to Triple-A when the Nats needed help in the bullpen earlier this month.
“We didn’t want to send Difo out, but we needed an arm,” Baker explained.
He didn’t share the details of what he told Difo before he was sent down, but he said he told him to work hard and he would be back.
“Just told him, in essence, go down there and play, play your butt off and he’ll be back.”
Difo’s back up. No announcement of today’s lineup yet. We’ll see how the outfield is aligned shortly...