Results tagged ‘ Doug Slaten ’

Nats tender contracts to five, agree to terms with two others

Entering Thursday, the Nationals had 10 players who were eligible for salary arbitration. Five of them — pitchers Sean Burnett, John Lannan and Doug Slaten and outfielders Michael Morse, and Josh Willingham — were tendered contracts, while catcher Jesus Flores and infielder Alberto Gonzalez agreed to terms on new deals. However, catcher Wil Nieves and right-handers Joel Peralta and Chien-Ming Wang became free agents.

Letting Nieves and Wang walk was not a surprise, for the Nationals are loaded with catchers, which made Nieves expendable, and Wang pitched in 24 games in the past three seasons.

However, letting Peralta get away was a surprise. Peralta had the best season of his career, posting a 2.02 ERA in 39 games. He allowed one run in his final 15 innings. General manager Mike Rizzo wasn’t available for comment.

Terms were not disclosed on Gonzalez and Flores. Gonzalez  is a valuable player off the bench, but his attitude must change when it comes to playing time. He was often upset when taken out of games.

Flores enters the 2011 season as the No. 3 catcher. It didn’t help that he missed most of the past two years because of a right shoulder injury. The Nationals haven’t ruled out Flores starting next season in the Minor Leagues.

Burnett, Lannan, Morse, Slaten and Willingham will have a hearing sometime in February unless they agree to terms with the club.

Of the five players, Willingham appears to the one person who could be traded before the 2011 season gets underway. Willingham is a free agent after the ’11 season and it is believed the Nationals want young players in return for the right-handed hitting slugger.

Chico optioned to Syracuse; Burke to the DL

The Nationals optioned left-hander Matt Chico to Triple-A Syracuse, while re-assigning left-hander Doug Slaten and catcher Jamie Burke to Minor League camp Saturday.  

Of the three, Chico is the most intriguing because he had a chance to become the fifth starter in the rotation. After missing almost two years because of elbow reconstruction, Chico proved he is 100 percent healthy, but it wasn’t enough.

In three outings — including an intrasquad game — Chico gave up five earned runs in seven innings. In two of those starts, Chico looked like the player who collected a lot of groundball outs. The bad performance came March 13, when Chico gave up the five earned runs in an inning- plus against the Astros. That usually means that he can’t throw strikes with his breaking ball. Chico will be the first to say he can’t throw just his fastball to get by.

“I felt I would be probably be a long shot out of anyone just because of the history of being out [for almost two years],” Chico said. “The only thing I could do was come and show that I’m healthy and throw some pitches a little better than I did before. I think I did that. I’ll just take it all in stride going into the season.”

General manager Mike Rizzo, who drafted Chico when both were with the D-backs, felt Chico needed more innings in the Minor Leagues after being out of action for a long time.

“The decision [to send Chico to Syracuse] was performance based and developmental based, but I feel he is 100 percent back from his surgery,” Rizzo said. “His arm looks better, he looks stronger and crisp than when he started the 31 [Major League] games for us in 2007. 

“I told him that he hasn’t looked this good since his early days with the Diamondbacks. He was a pleasant surprise in Spring Training. I felt,  because of the lack of innings that he lost, he needs to go and refine his skills down in the Minor Leagues. He is not an overhaul-type of guy at all. He needs to go get his innings and correct the flaws that he has gained after losing all that time.”

As for Slaten and Burke, they most likely will start the season in Syracuse with Burke starting the season on the disabled list. He has a torn right meniscus and is expected to miss four to six weeks.           

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