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Outfielder Jason Michaels hit .220 with one homer in 20 games this spring.
Michaels and Blanco had been competing for spots on the Opening Day bench. Their departure all but guarantees jobs for infielder Steve Lombardozzi and outfielder Brett Carroll, and sets up a battle between veterans Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy for the last spot on the roster.
Blanco was the only other infielder competing with Lombardozzi for a backup role, and the 27-year-old journeyman didn't make much of a case for himself, collecting just two hits in 32 at-bats this spring.
Davey Johnson wouldn't go so far this morning to say Lombardozzi has made the club, but the manager has envisioned the rookie getting as many as 300 at-bats by filling in at second base, shortstop, third base and left field.
Michaels was hoping to make the club as a backup outfielder, but the 35-year-old had only two hits over his last 18 at-bats and struggled at times in the field. As is the case with Blanco, Michaels has an opt-out clause in his contract that allows him to sign with another club instead of reporting to Syracuse, but the Nationals are hoping he chooses to remain in the organization.
"I'd like to keep him," Johnson said of Michaels. "I told him he didn't have anything to prove to me with the bat. It just wasn't quite a fit. I'd have killed for him last year. But this year, with what we're trying to accomplish and how I'm trying to get this team together with how it fits, I've got a lot of options."
With Michaels out of the picture, Carroll appears all but certain to win a roster spot as a backup outfielder (and perhaps even as an emergency catcher in case Johnson wants to use Jesus Flores or Wilson Ramos as a pinch-hitter). That leaves Nady and Tracy as the only remaining position players in camp still seeking a job, and each of their fates is directly tied to the health of two lineup regulars.
Tracy probably makes the roster only if first baseman Adam LaRoche is forced to start the season on the disabled list. LaRoche, who has missed the last two weeks with a foot injury, is back in the lineup today against the Braves and is expected to get enough playing time to be ready for Opening Day.
Nady appears to have a better chance of making the roster, because left fielder Michael Morse needs more time to recover from a lat strain and is expected to begin the season on the DL. Johnson said this morning that Morse (who has been cleared to throw and hit off a tee) will come north with the rest of the team at the end of camp and will continue his rehab with the big-league club.
Unemployed only two weeks ago before signing a minor-league contract with the Nationals, Nady incredibly could now find himself as Washington's Opening Day left fielder. Johnson said the 33-year-old is an option to start next Thursday in Chicago, along with Roger Bernadina and Mark DeRosa.
Severino, 27, made six appearances this spring, allowing two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. With Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny and Ross Detwiler all set to pitch out of the bullpen, the Nationals had no need for another left-handed reliever.