The Washington Times - August 2, 2011, 12:07AM

The Nationals made the first half of a move to shore up their long relief in the bullpen Monday night when they optioned Atahualpa Severino back to Triple-A Syracuse. No official announcement was made but they are expected to recall Collin Balester before Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves to pitch out of the bullpen as a long reliever, a right-hander to complement left-handed long man Tom Gorzelanny.

Severino was recalled from Triple-A on Sunday to take the roster spot of Yunesky Maya and serve as an extra left-hander out of the bullpen but he did not appear in a game during his two-day stay. It was always intended to be a short stint and Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he was close to being used in both games but he never entered. 

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Balester gives the Nationals — and Johnson — the second long man the manager has been looking for as an insurance policy for both injury and ineffectiveness with that day’s starting pitcher. Until recently, they’d had Ross Detwiler filling the role but the lefty will make his second major league start of the season on Thursday and Gorzelanny shifted into the left-handed long relief role. Still, Johnson felt that one man wasn’t adequate as using that one would keep the manager on edge for the following two or three days while that pitcher was unavailable.

This will be Balester’s fourth stint of the season with the Nationals, seemingly the victim of having an option remaining on his contract on several occasions when a roster crunch necessitated a move. He’ll return to the Nationals with a 4.61 ERA in 13 2/3 major league innings this season and after being stretched to four innings on Saturday and allowing just one hit.