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Cole feels better after missing start with illness

Righty among pitchers competing for fifth spot in rotation
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole, the favorite to win the club's fifth-starter spot, is feeling much better after an illness prevented him from starting Monday's game against the Tigers.

Cole was able to throw a side session Monday while the club was on the road.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander A.J. Cole, the favorite to win the club's fifth-starter spot, is feeling much better after an illness prevented him from starting Monday's game against the Tigers.

Cole was able to throw a side session Monday while the club was on the road.

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"The good news is he's feeling better," manager Dave Martinez said. "He had like a regular side day, and he felt good."

Cole had been slotted this spring into the No. 5 spot in the team's rotation. While Martinez said he will work on slotting Cole back into that spot, he did not want to commit to anything further Tuesday about Cole's status in the rotation competition.

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"We haven't made any decisions on it," Martinez said. "Of course, A.J.'s in the mix, but we've seen a lot of good things out of other people. Right now it's still up in the air, and we'll see where it goes."

Nats trim roster
The Nationals made another round of roster cuts following Tuesday night's 7-4 victory against the Mets, including a few impressive relievers that could make an impact in Washington at some point this season.

Right-hander Wander Suero, outfielder Rafael Bautista and first baseman Jose Marmolejos were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, while left-hander Bryan Harper, right-hander Jaron Long and catcher Jhonatan Solano were reassigned to Minor League camp.

Harper, the older brother of Bryce, was in his first Major League camp and got his first chance to pitch after he underwent Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss last season. He made five appearances and gave up three runs on six hits in five innings with a pair of walks and two strikeouts.

"From where he was last year to now, I mean to come here in camp and pitch in the big leagues, it's incredible," Martinez said. "I know he was excited about it, and he'll build from that. I told him you just have to continue to build your arm strength and get stronger, but I said you're going to be fine. He gained a lot of confidence in camp and that's good to see."

Video: WSH@DET: Bryan Harper retires Alcantara to earn save

Suero was also impressive this spring before some tightness on his left side last week derailed his progress. But in four innings he did not allow a run and struck out seven. The only thing Martinez wanted him to focus on for now was getting healthy.

"I know it was a freak thing, but he's got to be healthy," Martinez said. "He had a great camp 'til then. I loved what I saw."

Glover still shut down
Washington has still not offered much of an update for right-hander Koda Glover, who has still not been cleared to resume throwing after he was shut down earlier this spring with minor inflammation on his right shoulder.

Once considered a part of the Nats' Opening Day bullpen, Glover arrived at camp complaining of a sore shoulder, and an MRI revealed some inflammation. Martinez did not offer a timeline on when Glover might start throwing again, only that he was focused on strengthening his shoulder again.

"We want him to be 100 percent strength-wise before he starts throwing again," Martinez said. "We've got a great medical staff, so he's being monitored. They put him on a program. And it just all depends on how he reacts."

Quoteable
"I'm happy for Jake. He's a competitior, and I know it was eating him up being at home. It's unfortunate that he's in our division, but I'm happy with the guys we got. I really am. We're going to compete every day, and we've got a good product that we put out every day on the field, and I'm looking forward to it." -- Martinez on Jake Arrieta signing with the National League East rival Phillies.

Up next
After an off-day Wednesday, the Nationals host their Spring Training roommates, the Astros, at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Tommy Milone, a non-roster invitee who could be in the mix for the final rotation spot, will take the mound. Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner will be on the field behind him. The game will be available on Gameday Audio.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, A.J. Cole