Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
J.D. Martin didn't make the most of his limited opportunity to win a rotation spot.
JUPITER, Fla. J.D. Martin was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse this morning, leaving only Garrett Mock and Scott Olsen remaining in the battle for the final spot in the Nationals' rotation.
Though team officials always made a point to include Martin in the mix for a starting job, the right-hander was given only limited opportunities to state his case. He appeared in only three Grapefruit League games (two starts) and allowed seven runs on 10 hits in six total innings.
Martin did pitch several times in minor-league games, including a start yesterday in an intrasquad game in Viera in which he struggled.
"He's just one of them guys you root for," manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's a consummate professional. Doesn't light the radar gun up. But he knows how to pitch and all that. We still think we'll be calling on him at some point."
The Nationals must now decide whether to include Mock or Olsen in the season-opening rotation. Mock, who appeared to lock up a spot earlier this spring, has struggled through his last few outings and yesterday was roughed up by the Marlins for six runs (four earned) on seven hits and five walks in only 4 2/3 innings.
Olsen, meanwhile, has slowly progressed over the course of the spring in his return from shoulder surgery. If the Nationals released the left-hander today, they would only be responsible for one-fourth of his $1 million salary. If Olsen remains on the roster tomorrow, he will earn his full salary.
Riggleman said Olsen remains scheduled to start Friday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers. After that outing, the club will decide which pitcher gets the job: Mock or Olsen. The loser would almost certainly be optioned to Syracuse to start the season.
"Somebody's going to get the job," the manager said. "But nobody's won the job."