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John Lannan, optioned to Syracuse on Tuesday, requested he be traded yesterday.
"It's just a tough thing," manager Davey Johnson said before today's season opener against the Cubs. "We're not trading him, though. We're keeping him. He's a good big-league pitcher."
Lannan, the club's Opening Day starter in 2009 and 2010 and the staff leader last season in wins and innings pitched while posting a career-best 3.70 ERA, was surprisingly optioned to Class AAA Syracuse during the Nationals' exhibition finale Tuesday afternoon. Ross Detwiler, the organization's first-round pick in 2007, was instead tabbed as the No. 5 starter to open the season.
One day later, Lannan formally asked general manager Mike Rizzo to trade him, then made his request public via an email to beat reporters.
Rizzo, though, said today that Lannan's request will not change anything about how the club proceeds with the matter. The GM again described there being "mild interest" in the 27-year-old from other teams this spring, and reiterated that he hasn't been actively shopping the pitcher.
"I've known John Lannan a long time," Rizzo said. "He's an ultra competitive person. And he's frustrated and upset and mad. If he was any other way, I would wonder about him. This guy has been a solid contributor to this franchise for a long time. He's a good, solid starting pitcher in the big leagues. Unfortunately, it was a conversation that we had about a roster spot that we felt we had five guys better than him."
Rizzo also reiterated that Lannan expressed a preference not to pitch out of the bullpen. The club's coaching staff and front office agreed he would be a poor fit as a reliever.
Lannan is scheduled to make his first start for Syracuse on Sunday, and as far as the Nationals are concerned, he'll remain in the Chiefs' rotation until the need arises for another starter at the big-league level.
"I trust John Lannan is going to be an ultra-professional like he's been throughout his career in Washington," Rizzo said. "The last thing I told him was that you're going to help us in the big leagues this year, or you're going to help somebody in the big leagues this year. That was the final statement that I made to him."