The Nationals are suddenly facing a potential roster gap in the outfield, as Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports. Michael Taylor tweaked his knee today and is slated to be looked at more closely tomorrow. With Howie Kendrick also in limbo, both of the club’s right-handed-hitting reserve outfield pieces could be out of commission to open the season. Lefty hitter Andrew Stevenson is the only other 40-man outfielder. Perhaps there’s a chance that the Nats will look to the free agent market — Austin Jackson seems the closest match to Taylor as a right-handed-hitting center fielder — or consider claiming a late-spring roster casualty to boost their depth.
Here are a few more roster notes from around the game:
- The Dodgers expect to carry Alex Verdugo on the MLB roster to open the year, manager Dave Roberts says (via Pedro Moura of The Athletic, on Twitter). After spending two seasons at Triple-A, where he owns a healthy .321/.389/.452 slash, Verdugo certainly deserves a shot. It remains to be seen how he and others will actually be utilized. As things stand, Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger are also available as left-handed-hitting outfield options, though perhaps some roster tweaking could still occur.
- Cardinals lefty Brett Cecil pitched in an instrasquad game today and threw more balls (15) than strikes (12) in his latest shaky outing, according to Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This spring has been a trial for the veteran reliever, who’s still trying to find himself on the mound after losing a bunch of weight following a brutal 2018 season. Command and velocity are both problems at the moment, as Frederickson’s colleague Derrick Goold recently explored.
- Right-hander Sal Romano, who has spent the vast majority of his career as a starter, will be converted into a relief role for the Reds moving forward, Bobby Nightengale Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. He’ll still be stretched out to the point where he can be relied upon for two- and three-inning relief appearances if needed, though. Unlike some other Reds roster hopefuls, Romano has a minor league option remaining, so it’s possible he’ll continue to acclimate to his new role at the Triple-A level before getting a look the big league ’pen. Romano, who turned 25 this offseason, has long rated as one of the more intriguing arms in the Cincinnati system but hasn’t found MLB success yet. In 232 2/3 innings, he’s mustered just a 4.99 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 — including a 5.31 ERA in 145 2/3 innings of work last year. Making it into the Reds’ rotation would’ve been challenging anyhow, as offseason acquisitions Sonny Gray, Alex Wood and Tanner Roark are expected to join holdovers Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani to round out the starting five.
- Padres right-hander Brett Kennedy has been diagnosed with a lat strain, per James Clark of the East Village Times (Twitter link). The expectation is that he’ll be sidelined for about a month. Kennedy, 24, scuffled last year in his first six MLB appearances and wasn’t expected to command a big league job out of camp. But he posted impressive results in 2018 at Triple-A, with 89 1/3 innings of 2.72 ERA ball over 16 starts, and is certainly part of the depth picture in San Diego.