The Washington Times - November 16, 2011, 03:37PM

The Nationals cleared two spots on their 40-man roster Wednesday afternoon when right-hander Cole Kimball was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays and outfielder Corey Brown was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse.

Kimball, who is rehabbing from rotator cuff surgery and isn’t expected to be back until at least mid-season, was claimed by the Blue Jays — thus ending a disappointing 2011 season with the Nationals for him. Kimball came into big league spring training as a non-roster invitee and drew raves for his fearless demeanor on the mound as well as a fastball that was routinely clocked at 95 mph and above.

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But Kimball began the year at Triple-A Syracuse and shoulder stiffness there that went unreported led to a lack of control and slight drop in velocity when he did make it to the major leagues in mid-May. By the first week of June, Kimball was on the disabled list with inflammation in his shoulder and by July 8 it was clear that he wouldn’t get better with rest and rehab alone. It was announced then that Kimball would undergo season-ending rotator cuff surgery.

After the surgery, Kimball was in good spirits but knew the road ahead of him would be a long, trying one. The procedure required one anchor and two sutures in his shoulder.

“It’s going to be a long time without a ball,” he said after the surgery. “I was told I won’t be 100 percent until the All-Star break. It’s a very long process.”

The Nationals were trying to outright Kimball to Triple-A Syracuse as all players must be off the disabled list and either on the 40-man roster or in the minor leagues by Friday, but the Blue Jays apparently thought it was worth the risk to nab Kimball — who projects as a future late-inning reliever or closer if he returns healthy — and help him complete his rehab.

Brown, the outfielder who came to the Nationals as part of the Josh Willingham trade last offseason with Henry Rodriguez, was a September call-up this season. He spent the entire year on the team’s 40-man but an underwhelming performance for much of the season at Triple-A, combined with a staph infection in his right knee that required surgery almost immediately after he arrived in the big leagues, limited his ability to make an impression.

The Nationals 40-man roster is now set at 32 (with the assumption that Adam LaRoche will be moved from the 60-day disabled list to the active roster by Friday) and they have created some room to play with to protect minor leaguers from the Rule 5 draft and add anyone signed in free agency or traded for. 

As I wrote this morning, there are 14 Nationals minor leaguers eligible for the Rule 5 draft — some they will most likely not risk losing to another team.

Derek Norris 
Tyler Moore
 
Josh Smoker
 
Brad Meyers
 
Jack McGeary
 
Erik Komatsu
 
Steven Souza
 
Patrick McCoy
 
Jeff Mandel
 
Sandy Leon
 
Chris Curran
 
Stephen King
 
J.R. Higley
 
Jose Lozada