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Why Opening Day Roster Cuts Don’t Really Matter

by Chris Lingebach
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Adam LaRoche #25 of the Washington Nationals warms up prior to the Nationals game against the Miami Marlins during opening day at Nationals Park on April 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Adam LaRoche #25 of the Washington Nationals warms up prior to the Nationals game against the Miami Marlins during opening day at Nationals Park on April 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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With the Washington Nationals close to reaching their final 25-man roster, it’s as good a time as ever to dispel the common misconception that the Opening Day roster is to be perceived with any long-term implications.

The Opening Day roster, really, is just the best lineup for Opening Day, taking into consideration a given team’s – in this case, the Nationals – matchups in the first few weeks of the season.

The Nationals, for instance, optioned Tyler Moore, Ryan Mattheus and Xavier Cedeno – the previous two of whom have already logged significant service time at the Major League level – to Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday.

“They’re going to help us at some time during the season and beyond,” Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen.

“And these decisions about who goes north, and the 25-man roster and that type of the thing, is really, who goes north for Opening Day and the first part of the season,” he explained.

“We understand there’s gonna be injuries, there’s gonna be performance issues, and we have a very flexible roster this year with guys that have a lot of options, so it gives the manager and the general manager and the front office a lot of ways to go.

“There’s some interchangeable parts that we can reach down to the minor leagues for, and we’ve never been in the position before where we’re sending down really good players that are Major League-caliber that could play on a lot of Major League clubs, including our own, and we because of the roster, just don’t fit for us, at this time, right now.”

Rizzo takes a global view of the roster, he explained, looking beyond the 25-man roster and the first weeks of the 2014 regular season, with particular attention paid to the three to five guys on the bubble who didn’t make the cut, and how and when they can make their return to the Majors.

Moreover, “really we’re in discussions and evaluating our 250-man roster, which is our entire organization.”

So yea, while it’s certainly a blow for a player to find out he won’t be suiting up on Opening Day — instead, he may be trudging around somewhere on a Greyhound bus — for the fans, with respect to their favorite fringe Major League players who didn’t make the final cut, the dream isn’t over.

Far from it, more than likely.

If you need further convincing, just take a look at the Nationals Opening Day rosters in 2012, and 2013.

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