Nats promote prospects Solis, Taylor from Minor Leagues
Johnson placed on 15-day DL with left calf strain; Cole optioned to Syracuse
ATLANTA -- Even in victory, the Nationals continue to be a work in progress.
Coming off its most dramatic win of the early season, the club made a few moves to bolster the roster on Wednesday, recalling southpaw Sammy Solis from Double-A Harrisburg and outfielder Michael Taylor from Triple-A Syracuse.
Washington placed Reed Johnson on the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander A.J. Cole to Syracuse to make room on the roster for Solis and Taylor, two of the team's top prospects.
Solis, 26, has never pitched in the Majors and could become the fifth rookie to make his big league debut for the Nationals this season. A former starter coming off Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2012, the Minneapolis, Minn., native is making the transition to the bullpen. Nats manager Matt Williams expects Solis to get an opportunity to contribute almost immediately.
"Given last night's game and the amount that we've had to use the bullpen, we needed a guy here that can go long," said Williams prior to Wednesday night's series finale at Turner Field. "[The Braves] have a lot of left-handed hitters as do the Mets, in the upcoming series. So he's a good fit.
"I just think anytime you can find a power lefty, a guy that throws high-90s from the left side, it's something good. We're glad to have him. Hopefully, he'll get a chance to get in there and get the first one out of the way."
Solis logged a 2.25 ERA in his first three games for Harrisburg, and he's posted a 12-5 record and a 3.30 ERA over his Minor League career. Solis, a second-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, missed a year due to Tommy John surgery in 2012, but he has come back strong. He's gotten used to his new role.
"It's a lot different than having my routine as a starter, but I'm adjusting well. It's kind of trial by fire," Solis said. "Then I, obviously, talk with the other relievers, so my teammates have been a lot of help to me, too. [The Nationals] blindsided me, but I couldn't be more happy."
Taylor, 24, also is glad to get another shot in the bigs. The 2014 Eastern League Rookie of the Year was on the Nationals' Opening Day roster, while center fielder Denard Span was recovering from a core injury. Taylor hit .271 in 12 games in his first stint with the big club this season. He's a .241 hitter in 29 career Major League games.
"I'm very excited. This is the place to be," said Taylor, who hit .417 with a .500 on-base percentage in his first seven games for Syracuse this season. "I understand the way things had to happen so I just took the attitude that I was going to work on my game and not worry about the rest, just try to continue getting my timing down and put together quality at-bats, and try to help the team win in Syracuse. I'm here to do whatever they need me to do."
That could be anything, according to Williams.
"There is still management to Denard and Jayson as we go along," the skipper said. "They haven't had a whole lot of games so far. So that need is going to be there I'm sure. We're in the middle of a pretty long stretch right now without an off-day, so I could anticipate [Taylor making a start] in the next week. And it's another opportunity for him to play and to get Major League experience."
Taylor gets his second shot because of what Johnson can't do.
According to Williams, Johnson, 38, a 13-year veteran who made the club after signing a Minor League contract on March 30, heard a pop as he left the batter's box Tuesday night while running out a pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh inning. He left the game shortly thereafter. Williams said Johnson could not get on his toes and would not have been able to even take batting practice on Wednesday. He will be further evaluated in the coming days.
Johnson, who has appeared in 12 games for the Nationals, was placed on the DL with a strained left calf. He was hitting .222 (4-for-18) and was 1-for-7 as a pinch-hitter, with the RBI double in Tuesday night's comeback.
Cole, 23, made his Major League debut on Tuesday night and allowed nine runs -- four earned -- in two innings in Washington's 13-12 victory over Atlanta.