Nats sign reliever Kontos to Minors deal

Rosenthal (viral infection) continues rehab at Double-A

May 26th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' fluid bullpen has added some organizational depth with the signing of veteran right-hander George Kontos to a Minor League deal. Kontos is expected to report to Triple-A Fresno.

Washington’s bullpen entered play Sunday with an MLB-worst 7.09 ERA. General manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Friday that while he trusts the current group of relievers to turn things around, he added that the club was open to “all sorts of alternatives.”

Kontos joins the Nationals via the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks, where he went 2-0 in seven appearances with a 1.00 ERA and three saves in nine innings.

The 33-year-old has spent parts of eight seasons in the Majors, including a six-year stint with the Giants (2012-17). In '18, Kontos made 28 appearances with the Indians, Pirates and Yankees, posting a 4.39 ERA across 26 2/3 innings.

On Saturday, the Nationals recalled reliever James Bourque from Double-A Harrisburg, while optioning Joe Ross to Triple-A Fresno. Ross, a one-time starter, struggled in his first extended stint as a reliever with a 9.22 ERA in 16 appearances. The Nationals intend to stretch him out in Fresno and potentially recall him down the line as a starter again.

Manager Dave Martinez said Sunday that the Nationals have been encouraged by Trevor Rosenthal’s progress with Double-A Harrisburg. Rosenthal (0-1, 36.00 ERA with the Nats) was placed on the IL with a viral infection on April 26, but has since made six rehab appearances with Harrisburg.

On Saturday, he threw a 1-2-3 inning against Reading.

“Hopefully he’s available to pitch tomorrow again in Harrisburg,” Martinez said, “and what we’d like to do is maybe get him a back-to-back day, and we’ll see where we go from there.”

Martinez also said that he’s hopeful the Nationals' beleaguered bullpen will benefit from Patrick Corbin’s shutout in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Miami. It was the club's first complete game of the season.

“It allowed our bullpen to take a well-needed break and get that reset, and now here we go,” Martinez said. “Today, everyone is available and it feels good.”

Worth noting
Catcher Yan Gomes started for the fourth consecutive game Sunday and for the sixth time in the last seven games overall. Martinez said that Kurt Suzuki will catch Max Scherzer in Monday’s series finale against Miami.

Gomes had a three-run double Saturday, and he entered play Sunday with a five-game hitting streak (7-for-16) with two doubles, five RBIs and four walks.