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By Tammy Bruce
Topic - Carlos Maldonado
For a roster that was all but set from the outset of camp, the decision on whether J.C. Romero or Henry Rodriguez will get the Nationals' final bullpen spot, it seems, will come down to the spring's final day.
"I don't think he ever has a bad day," reliever Christian Garcia said on a recent spring morning. "He's just so nice."
Late Tuesday night, Washington Nationals bullpen coach Jim Lett looked to his left, and to his right, and saw only rows of empty chairs. In a 7-6, 12-inning win over the New York Mets that saw the Nationals empty their bullpen down to long reliever Ross Detwiler, Lett was a lonely man.
With catcher Jesus Flores nursing a sore right hamstring and the team having no clear emergency backup outside of Carlos Maldonado, the Washington Nationals decided Monday to option infielder Tyler Moore back to Triple-A Syracuse and will recall catcher Jhonatan Solano before Tuesday's game.
Injuries have ravaged Washington's catching depth, first taking Wilson Ramos for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee, then putting Sandy Leon on the shelf for a month with a high ankle sprain. As a result, Jesus Flores has gone from bench player to iron man.
Sean Burnett worked through his repertoire pitch by pitch, knocking off the rust in a bullpen session typical of the early days of spring training. It would be a few more days before he and his fellow Washington Nationals pitchers had a chance to face batters, so Burnett was throwing for an audience of one - catcher Sandy Leon.
"What's up, Maldy?" he asks catcher Carlos Maldonado as he walks by, even though he's midsentence in a conversation with another player.