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Anthony Rendon up, Danny Espinosa to DL as Nationals make series of moves

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The Washington Nationals called up top prospect Anthony Rendon and put the struggling Danny Espinosa on the disabled list amid a flurry of roster moves on Tuesday as they prepared to open a six-game home stand as a sub-.500 team.

The Nationals also designated relievers Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke for assignment, selecting left-hander Ian Krol’s contract from Double-A to shore up the bullpen. Finally, Jayson Werth came off the disabled list, the first time he’s been available to play since May 2 when he was first sidelined with a right hamstring strain.

Rendon, who turns 23 Thursday, impressed in spring training and his debut stint with the Nationals earlier this season while Ryan Zimmerman was on the disabled list. The Nationals promoted him to Triple-A Syracuse over the weekend after he hit .319 with 11 doubles and six homers in 33 games at Double-A Harrisburg.

A natural third baseman, all three of Rendon’s games at Syracuse had been at second base. Steve Lombardozzi was set to start at second Tuesday night, with Rendon on the bench.

Espinosa has been dealing with injuries throughout the season and his play has suffered. He was hitting .158 and his .465 OPS was the second-worst of any major league player with at least 100 plate appearances.

Krol, the Oakland A’s 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, was the player to be named in the Michael Morse trade. However, the Nationals had said since the trade was made that they were confident they were getting a quality prospect in that deal and Krol, who was switched to a reliever this season, has had great success at Double-A.

In 26 innings of work in Double-A, Krol has a 0.69 ERA. He’s faced 101 batters and has an impressive 0.808 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched), and the Nationals have been pleased by his progress all season.

The Nationals tried for the better part of the last three seasons to get Rodriguez to the point where he could harness his overpowering stuff, but that point has only ever appeared in brief flashes. This season, as sparingly as he’s been used, Rodriguez has allowed 8.0 walks per nine innings.

On Saturday night, with few other options in a taxed bullpen, manager Davey Johnson went to Rodriguez in the 10th inning. He could reconcile the game-winning hit by B.J. Upton, but Rodriguez’s two walks to set up the hit, and his inability to hold baserunners, proved extremely costly in the Nationals’ loss.

After his success as a reliever in a September call-up, which followed a strong season at Triple-A as a starter, the Nationals hoped Duke could provide their lone left-handed presence in the bullpen as a long reliever. It has been more of a struggle than expected, though, for Duke to adjust to the role. In 20 2/3 innings, Duke has an 8.71 ERA and left-handed batters are hitting .448 off him.

Duke spoke with Johnson after Sunday’s game about wanting to get on a bullpen mound more and throw more often to help keep himself sharp as it’s been difficult for him to find a routine that works.

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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