The Washington Nationals are getting closer and closer to finalizing their opening day roster as they reassigned infielder Andres Blanco to minor league camp and released outfielder Jason Michaels, according to an article posted by CSNWashington.com's Nationals insider Mark Zuckerman. They also optioned left-handed pitcher Atahualpa Severino and right-handed pitcher Ryan Perry to Class AAA Syracuse.
Blanco and Michaels hoped to earn back up roles on the Nationals, but both struggled at the plate near the end of their time with the big club. Blanco only managed two hits in 32 at-bats during the spring while Michaels only had two hits in his last 18 at-bats. Michaels also had some issues fielding.
Michaels does have an option in his contract where he could opt out and sign with another team rather than reporting to minor league camp, but manager Davey Johnson hopes that the outfielder will remain in the Nationals organization.
The roster cuts now set up what looks to be a competition between Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy for the final spot on Washington's opening day roster.
In other spring training news, the Nationals signed left-handed pitcher Zach Duke to a minor league deal also according to Zuckerman.
#Nats have signed LHP Zach Duke to minor-league deal. He'll report to minor-league camp, prob be in Syracuse rotation.
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) March 29, 2012
This signing only adds more depth to a pitching staff that is already pretty deep.
For more on the Nationals, check out Federal Baseball.