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Inbox: Rodriguez part of Nationals' bullpen plans?

Where does Henry Rodriguez fit in the Nationals' plan this upcoming season?
-- Louis G, Washington

Provided that he is healthy and has a great Spring Training, I see him being a guy who pitches between the sixth and eighth innings. Manager Davey Johnson doesn't give up on players who ended the season on a sour note. In his case, Rodriguez's season ended early because of a right elbow injury.

What are the Nats going to do with first baseman Chris Marrero?
-- Jimmy M., Alexandria. Va.

I don't see how Marrero fits in their plans. The bench is pretty much set and Johnson wants Mark DeRosa back as one of his utility players. It would seem the Nationals would try to trade him between now and Spring Training. In my opinion, Marrero is not a Minor Leaguer. Provided that he is healthy, he belongs in the Major Leagues. To me, he was impressive during his brief call up in 2011.

Isn't it time to make Ross Detwiler the No. 4 starter? Also, what do you think of Nats' rotation?
- Archit. M., Arlington, Va.

Detwiler was great during the season. Entering Spring Training, Detwiler is the No. 4 guy in the rotation since Edwin Jackson became a free agent. As far the rotation goes, it's outstanding. Provided everyone is healthy, the rotation should be the least of the team's concerns. My biggest concern is the bullpen. You hope that Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen have recovered from subpar performances in the National League Division Series, and the club can replace Sean Burnett, who signed with the Angels. The Nationals are still in the mix for free agent J.P. Howell.

Bill Bray was an OK pitcher in his last stint with the Nationals. Do you think he will be anywhere near as good the second time around?
-- Drew D., Leesburg, Va.

It depends on his health, which has been an issue. He grew up in Virginia Beach. I expect him to be motivated and have a good season. If he makes the team out of Spring Training, I could see as a situational lefty.

Should the Nationals be concerned with the way Ryan Zimmerman was releasing the ball at the end of 2012 season?
-- Brian H., Stafford, Va.

Let's see how he performs during Spring Training games. Remember, he had offseason surgery on his right shoulder and I think he will be better than he was during the 2012 season.

Why don't the Nationals just give Adam LaRoche a third year? If things don't pan out by the third year, the team could trade him.
-- Gregory B., Stafford, Va.

Easier said than done. First of all, the Nationals are not going to budge from their stance by giving LaRoche a third year. Let's say LaRoche is past his prime by the third year. It would be hard for him to be traded because he would make a lot of money and other teams probably would want the Nationals to eat a good chunk of his salary.

Don't forget, the Nationals most likely will put Matthew Skole at first base by 2015. Skole -- the organization's Minor League Player of the Year this past season and ranked by as the team's No. 10 prospect -- played for Class A Hagerstown and Potomac and hit a combined .291 with 27 home runs and 104 RBIs.

Washington Nationals, Bill Bray, Ross Detwiler, Chris Marrero, Henry Rodriguez