Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Garrett Mock beat out Scott Olsen for the final spot in the Nats' rotation.
The Nationals have decided to go with Garrett Mock over Scott Olsen as the final member of their Opening Day rotation, but Mock will actually pitch the season's fourth game.
Though Olsen performed better over the last two weeks of spring training, including a strong start yesterday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., manager Jim Riggleman said the club elected to take Mock based on more factors.
"The overall body of work," Riggleman said. "We couldn't put it all on one outing."
Olsen, who is guaranteed a $1 million salary this year, was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse and open the season there. Though he's made significant strides lately in his recovery from left shoulder surgery, the club believes he's not all the
"The consensus amongst all of us ... was that Olsen is really getting close to being where he was prior to the trade acquisition last year. He's just not quite there yet in terms of [being] fully 100 percent," Riggleman said. "He's really close. And yesterday's performance is evidence of that. Even though Garrett Mock had a little bit of a rough spring, we're still excited about what he can do for us."
Mock, who owns a career 4-13 record and 5.17 ERA in 54 big-league games (18 starts), could face a short leash with several other options either at Syracuse or on the DL waiting in the wings, including Olsen, Matt Chico, Ross Detwiler, Chien-Ming Wang and (eventually) Stephen Strasburg.
"The expectations that they have are high," Mock said. "But I expect a lot of myself. I don't feel any pressure. They believe in my stuff."
Olsen declined to comment before today's exhibition finale against the Red Sox. Agent Matt Sosnick expressed surprise at the decision and believed Olsen's track record would have been taken more into consideration.
"We believe that, based on the way that he pitched at the end of spring training, he is fully recovered and ready to be successful in the Nats' rotation," Sosnick said. "Pre-injury, he made almost 100 effective starts in the three seasons leading up to last year."
The Nationals will actually open the season with only four starters on the 25-man roster. Livan Hernandez, technically still a non-roster invitee, won't have his contract purchased until April 11; he'll start that game against the Mets in New York.
Washington will thus carry eight relievers on Opening Day. Though Riggleman didn't want to make a formal announcement of names yet -- in case of injury in today's game -- there are only eight relievers still on the spring roster: Matt Capps, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard, Jason Bergmann, Miguel Batista, Tyler Walker and rookie left-hander Jesse English (who figures to make the club). One of those relievers will have to be taken off the roster before Hernandez is added.
Riggleman did reveal the five players who will comprise his bench: catcher Wil Nieves, infielders Cristian Guzman and Alberto Gonzalez, first baseman/outfielder Mike Morse and outfielder Willy Taveras. Neither Eric Bruntlett nor Roger Bernadina made the club. Bernadina was optioned to Syracuse. Bruntlett was re-assigned to minor-league camp, along with reliever Mike MacDougal.
Thus, the Opening Day 25-man roster will be...