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Cedeno could earn bullpen spot

VIERA, Fla. -- If last year was any indication, Xavier Cedeno has a chance to be one of the lefties out of the Nationals' bullpen in 2014.

Last year, then-manager Davey Johnson didn't have a lefty specialist he could trust until Cedeno arrived as a September callup. It took Triple A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley, now a Minor League field coordinator, to persuade Johnson to use Cedeno in important situations.

Cedeno allowed a run in 4 2/3 innings during the month of September. Beasley told Johnson that Cedeno had the slider to get people out.

"I felt comfortable enough talking to Davey to bring it up," Beasley said. "Davey said he didn't have a good lefty. He opened the door for me to talk about X."

At first, Cedeno was frustrated when he first joined the Nationals early last year. He was called up several times during the season and was never used. At first, he was looked upon as an emergency reliever.

When he would return to Syracuse each time, Beasley would keep Cedeno's spirits up and told him to focus on getting back to the Major Leagues.

"[Beasley] helped me a lot. As long as you don't let [the inactivity] get deep in your head, you'll be fine," Cedeno said.

Said Beasley, "It was simple message. I wasn't a guy that was breathing down his neck and dropping the hammer on him. I felt like he was a big leaguer and I continued to tell him that and it worked out great in September when he had the opportunity to pitch. He did well."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
Read More: Washington Nationals, Adam LaRoche, A.J. Cole, Chris Young, Xavier Cedeno