CHICAGO — Needing space on their 25-man roster to activate right-hander Ross Ohlendorf from the disabled list to start on Wednesday, the Washington Nationals optioned lefty reliever Ian Krol to Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday night.
Krol, who joined the Nationals from Double-A on June 4 to make his major league debut, will return to the major league team as soon as rosters expand on Sept. 1, manager Davey Johnson said.
But the team’s acquisition of outfielder David DeJesus complicated the planned roster move to clear space for Ohlendorf, and with Krol still young and learning the team opted to allow him to continue doing so in the minor leagues for the next 11 days.
“I hate to miss him,” Johnson said. “Because he’s still learning up here. But he’s got a heck of a future.”
A native of nearby Naperville, Ill., Krol was the unfortunate victim of the wrench thrown into Johnson’s plans by the DeJesus trade. The Nationals had planned to release Roger Bernadina on Wednesday, Johnson said, as their way to clear room for Ohlendorf to return from shoulder inflammation and assume Taylor Jordan’s spot in the rotation.
But when they claimed DeJesus from the Cubs on Monday, they were forced to alter those plans and release Bernadina to make room for that move.
The Nationals could’ve optioned Tyler Moore, who was called back up on Saturday, for the next 11 days, but the team is very interested in getting him playing time in the major leagues.
“When we picked up another player, we had to do something with the pitching staff,” Johnson explained. “(Krol’s) going to Syracuse and he’s still learning. It’ll help him to get in a bunch of games and work on a few things. He’ll be back, but he’s got a heck of a future here.”
Krol was a revelation in his first 14 appearances. A hard-throwing lefty who has good deception on his fastball, Krol allowed just three total earned runs in his first 15 innings of work and didn’t let any of the three runners he inherited come around. He allowed just one hit in his first eight appearances.
After the All-Star break, perhaps due to the league getting a better scouting report on him, Krol struggled a bit.
In 13 games since the break, Krol allowed six earned runs in 10 innings off 14 hits and six walks. He also allowed all six of the runners he inherited in that span to score. Monday night, after surrendering a solo home run, he talked quietly with pitching coach Steve McCatty.
The results have not changed the Nationals’ opinion of Krol’s ability or his place in their organization.
Johnson admitted he was not happy to go without the left-hander, but given that he believes the team needs this time to evaluate players like Moore, he understood the roster maneuvering.
“I’m not real comfortable with it,” Johnson said. “But it’s the best thing for right now. We’ve got some other things with some players that need to get some playing time and make some judgements on them.”