Nationals make first round of cuts
The Nationals re-assigned pitchers Victor Garate, Logan Kensing, Joel Peralta and Ryan Speier, catcher Derek Norris and outfielder Jerry Owens to Minor League camp on Thursday.
The team also gave left-handers Shawn Estes and Eddie Guardado their unconditional release. The Nationals currently have 53 players in their big-league camp.
“It’s that time where you get the roster to a more manageable number, especially with the pitching” manager Jim Riggleman said. “We are going to try to stretch the starters out a little bit. A couple of clubs have already done it. We just needed to get a manageable number.”
Of the players sent to Minor League camp, Norris, 21, is the player with the most upside. He is considered Washington’s catcher of the future. He took the news in stride and realizes that he must improve his defense behind the plate.
Norris played in six games this spring and was hitless in four at-bats. His best time, he said, was learning from catchers Ivan Rodriguez and Jamie Burke.
“I learned a lot, especially on the defense side,” Norris said. “There were a lot of veteran guys around here who taught me a lot. I’m looking forward to taking what they showed me toward the season and see how it pans out behind the plate compared to last year. They gave me a lot of tips and pointers for my game. I think it will be a tremendous compliment for my game behind the plate.”
Estes and Guardado were signed to Minor League deals this winter to provide leadership to the young pitching staff, but they were hit hard during the exhibition season. Estes gave up two runs in one inning, while Guardado gave up seven runs — four earned — in two innings.
Estes said he is not sure what he is going to do — keep pitching or retire. He plans to talk to his wife and his agent before making a final decision.
Guardado was not available for comment.