Associated Press photo
Zach Duke was released by the Astros after going 0-3 with an 11.30 ERA this spring.
The Nationals also optioned reliever Ryan Perry to Syracuse following today's 6-3 victory over the Braves and announced outfielder Jason Michaels has been released.
Duke, 28, was released by the Astros on Tuesday, two days after he was shelled for 10 runs in 3 1/3 innings. Expected to compete for a spot in Houston's Opening Day rotation, the left-hander wound up 0-3 with an 11.30 ERA.
Duke does have considerable big-league experience, owner of a 48-74 record and 4.56 ERA in 181 career games with the Pirates and Diamondbacks. He's expected to join the rotation at Syracuse and could be called upon if the Nationals need an experienced starter at some point this season.
"Our depth is not what it was last year, the starting pitchers at that level," manager Davey Johnson said. "That was a good pick-up."
Perry, 25, made a good impression in his first camp with the Nationals. Acquired from the Tigers for fellow right-hander Collin Balester, he posted a 2.25 ERA in six relief appearances, striking out nine while walking two.
Michaels, 35, was reassigned to minor-league camp this morning after struggling this spring, but the veteran outfielder had an "out-clause" in his contract that didn't require him to report. The Nationals wound up releasing him, making him a free agent and giving him the opportunity to sign with another organization.