Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Watson, Ayala join Nationals; 2 struggling pitchers demoted
WASHINGTON -- Brandon Watson, who this week broke an
International League record with a 43-game hitting streak, joined
the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
The Nationals purchased Watson's contract from Triple-A Columbus
and also recalled right-handed reliever Luis Ayala from the 60-day
disabled list. Ayala has been out for more than a year because of
elbow reconstruction surgery. Right-hander Chris Schroder was also
recalled from Columbus.
To make room, the Nationals designated struggling relievers
Winston Abreu and Levale Speigner for assignment and placed first
baseman Robert Fick on the bereavement list. Fick's mother, Gloria,
died of lung cancer Tuesday.
Watson hit .330 (77-for-233) with 14 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in
57 games with Columbus. His hitting streak ran from May 1 to June
17 and is tied for ninth-longest in minor-league baseball history,
according to the Society of Baseball Research.
It also left him wondering when he would be going back to the
"You always think about it, but you never know what's going to
happen at the major-league level," said Watson, who started in
center field Wednesday night against the Detroit Tigers. "You can
only do what you can control down in the minor leagues, and that's
what I was doing."
Watson was the opening day center fielder for the Nationals last
year, but he batted only .179 in nine games before being optioned
to the minors.
Ayala was injured while pitching for Mexico in the World
Baseball Classic last year. He recently completed a rehab stint
with Columbus and Single-A Potomac, allowing only one earned run
over 9 2-3 innings.
Ayala last pitched for Washington in 2005, when he went 8-7 with
a 2.66 ERA.
Schroder was 2-2 with a 1.64 ERA and one save in 26 games with
Abreu allowed home runs in each of his last three appearances.
He was 2-1 with a 6.38 ERA in 19 games.
Speigner went 2-3 with an 8.78 ERA in 19 games, including six
starts. He struggled after being put into the rotation following
injuries to several Nationals starters.
Because he was a Rule 5 selection, Speigner must go through
waivers and then be offered back to the Minnesota Twins before
Washington can send him to the minors.
"For those that are here, the suggestion is if you're going to
produce at this level, let's produce at this level," general
manager Jim Bowden said. "And if you don't, there's going to be
changes. Patience goes only so far."
Also Wednesday, right-handed pitcher Jerome Williams (strained
shoulder) cleared waivers after being taken off of the 15-day
disabled list. He has 72 hours to report to Double-A Harrisburg.