MacDougal back with Nationals [updated]

The Nationals have signed right-hander Mike MacDougal to a Minor League contract Wednesday with an invitation to big-league camp. He will arrive at Space Coast Stadium the next day.

Last season, MacDougal was Washington’s closer, saving 20 games with a 3.60 ERA. He was arbitration eligible after the season, but was non-tendered in December because the team wasn’t sure if he would recover from offseason hip surgery. 

MacDougal, 33, then signed with the Marlins and gave up five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings this spring before he was unconditionally released by the club Tuesday. MacDougal’s agent, Rex Gary, and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo started talking soon thereafter.

“I’m feeling good,” MacDougal said. “Hopefully, when I get there, I will get as many innings as possible before Spring Training is out. We’ll then determine where I’m at.”  

Does MacDougal have a chance to be on the Nationals’ Opening Day roster? Manager Jim Riggleman isn’t sure.

“I know we’ll get a look at him,” Riggleman said. “With what he did for us last year, we certainly can’t dismiss that. He’ll certainly get the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think health is an issue. He wouldn’t have been pitching for the Marlins if he wasn’t healthy.”

If MacDougal isn’t put on the 25-man roster, he would report to the Minor Leagues, but he has an out clause in his contract.

“We’re not going to tell you what the date is, but it’s not three weeks,” Rizzo said. “It’s beyond that, but he does have an out with an understanding that if it’s not working, then he can exercise it.” 

After MacDougal left Washington, the Nationals signed right-handers Matt Capps and Brian Bruney to be the closer and setup man, respectively. MacDougal said he still would like to continue to be a closer, but it’s OK if he plays a different role on the team. 

“I obviously love closing, MacDougal said  “But at this point, I like pitching better. I just want to pitch and all that will take care of itself. I want to help the team win.” 


Why the Nationals are in reverse gear right now I don’t get it? I thought their bullpen is pretty much set with Martin or someone being the sixth reliever. Why waste money on McDougal after Marlins cut him?

It’s not a waste of money. We can’t get too many pitchers. We need guys ready to come up when (not if) other guys fail to perform or get injured.

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