WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals made an unexpected corresponding move in order to activate closer Jonathan Papelbon, choosing to option outfielder Michael A. Taylor rather than expendable starter Lucas Giolito.
Skipper Dusty Baker addressed the issue with the media, saying that the move made sense for all parties.
“We felt that Michael needed some at-bats,” Baker explained. “Also, we weren’t in a position to go with twelve pitchers right now, because of the way our bullpen — in these consecutive games the way our bullpen has been.”
With Strasburg back in the rotation, but the coaching staff still cautious about re-injury, Giolito remains with the ballclub as insurance. That leaves the bench short for the foreseeable future.
“We’ll do something in a few days to try to correct that, because it’s tough to go with four bench players, really three,” Baker said. “But those guys have been going like that for a while on the other side, Milwaukee, really three because you want to save your second catcher.
“Plus there’s who has options, who doesn’t, just a lot of things. That’s not the move that we really wanted to make really, but we thought it might help Michael to go down and play and he can be back in 10 days.”
Ten days from now is a Nats off day, followed by the start of a three-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This will be Taylor’s first minor league action since playing eight games there in 2015.
“It was real tough because you don’t want to see anybody leave,” Baker said of his conversation with Taylor. “That’s one of the toughest things that I’m kind of anointed to tell.
“Like I told him, ‘You go down there and work.’ I told him that it happened to Kolten Wong, he went down. It happened to [Michael Conforto]. Just go get yourself together. It happened to [Byron] Buxton in Minnesota.
“It was really tough, but I just told him just go down and no pouting. You just go down there and get more determined to get your act together and come back.”