WASHINGTON -- The Nationals will be counting on Sammy Solis to be a crucial part of their bullpen this season, serving as the lefty anchor behind closer Sean Doolittle.When healthy, Solis has been one of Washington's most solid options, but arm problems have hampered his career."I have to prove that
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals will be counting on Sammy Solis to be a crucial part of their bullpen this season, serving as the lefty anchor behind closer Sean Doolittle.
When healthy, Solis has been one of Washington's most solid options, but arm problems have hampered his career.
"I have to prove that not only can I be effective, but I have to prove I can be effective all season," Solis said.
Solis began last season with a 14.73 ERA in the first half, which included a lengthy disabled-list stint due to elbow inflammation. He also had nerve damage in his elbow that continued to affect him until his arm finally felt right in August.
"It's tough to describe to people what it's like to go out there trying to throw as hard as you can and it's 7, 8 mph slower than it should be," Solis said. "Obviously, no excuses. I have to go out there and pitch better and stay healthy. But last season was definitely a learning process, and I'm just thankful to the Nats for sticking with me, because they did."
Solis finished with a 2.41 ERA in the second half, looking much more like the reliable lefty who can get hitters out from both sides of the plate. That earned Solis a spot on the postseason roster and the trust to get the Nats out of tough jams during the National League Division Series. Those chances are likely to continue. Aside from Doolittle, Solis is likely to be the next reliable left-hander in the 'pen, with Oliver Perez currently a free agent. Lefties Enny Romero and Matt Grace are also relief options.
In an effort to stay healthy, Solis changed his offseason routine. He started throwing at the beginning of December and has added more physical therapy.
"I feel great. I feel fantastic," Solis said. "We're really working hard in Arizona, and I'll be ready to go for camp."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.