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Nats sign Valverde to minor-league deal


Nats sign Valverde to minor-league deal

Updated at 6:06 p.m.

ATLANTA — Seeking some experienced help for a bullpen that has struggled through the season's first three weeks, the Nationals have signed veteran Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract, general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed Wednesday evening.

Valverde, 37, has been at the Nationals' spring training complex in Viera, Fla., for about a week, building his arm up after getting released by the Padres last month. The club will make a decision soon whether to send the veteran right-hander to a minor-league affiliate, the big leagues or whether to pass altogether.

"It was a minor-league deal, and we'll see where it takes us," Rizzo said. "If we can catch lightning in a bottle with him, it certainly would be a good story."

Valverde provides some low-risk insurance for a Nationals bullpen that has seen massive turnover in the last six months. The five relievers who threw the most innings for the club in 2014 are now all gone (Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano, Ross Detwiler, Jerry Blevins) or injured (Craig Stammen). Additionally, veteran right-hander Casey Janssen (signed over the winter to take over primary setup duties) has yet to debut due to tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.

Valverde's deal includes no guarantee he'll make the big-league roster, but if he convinces club officials he is big-league-ready over the next few weeks, he could be called up and provide some immediate veteran presence to a bullpen that is sorely lacking in experienced arms.

Aside from closer Drew Storen and 38-year-old lefty Matt Thornton, the Nationals bullpen currently consists of starter-turned-reliever Tanner Roark, second-year right-handers Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen and rookie left-hander Matt Grace. Grace is one of three relievers who has made his major-league debut for the Nationals in the last two weeks, along with recently demoted right-hander Rafael Martin and injured lefty Felipe Rivero.

Valverde is a 3-time All-Star with 288 career saves and a 3.27 ERA in 626 appearances with four franchises, but he has been woefully ineffective over the last two seasons with a 5.63 ERA in 41 combined games between the Tigers and Mets.

Originally signed by the Diamondbacks in 1997 out of his native Dominican Republic, the big reliever known as "Papa Grande" first made a name for himself in Arizona when Rizzo was scouting director.

"We saw him in the Winter Leagues," Rizzo said. "His velocity was there. He's got a track record. We've got a relationship with him. He's a guy I signed a long time ago, and I know he's a guy who will fit into any clubhouse he goes and pitches with."

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.



NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Sean Doolittle seals the deal in victory over Atlanta Braves

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Sean Doolittle seals the deal in victory over Atlanta Braves

Check out the latest news and notes surrounding the Washington Nationals.

Player Notes: 

SS Trea Turner went 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI as the Nationals topped the Braves 5-3 on Saturday evening. Turner delivered a go-ahead RBI double off of Mike Soroka in the fifth inning, giving the Nationals a lead they wouldn't relinquish. He also swiped his 20th base of the season in the contest.

1B Matt Adams slugged his 15th home run of the season on Saturday, helping to propel the Nationals to victory over the Braves. For the season, Adams is hitting .235/.273/.519 with the aforementioned 15 homers and 40 RBI.

RP Sean Doolittle recorded the final five outs against the Braves on Saturday night, preserving a two-run advantage to earn his 21st save of the season. The left-hander came on with a man on and a man out in the eighth inning, with the Nationals clinging to a one-run lead. Doolittle retired Charlie Culberson and Ronald Acuna without issue, then stuck around to work a perfect ninth inning as well to seal the deal. 

SP Anibal Sanchez picked up his sixth victory of the season on Saturday night, limiting the Braves to three runs on six hits over his five-plus frames. The veteran right-hander struck out four and walked three on the night. Sanchez allowed an RBI single to Freddie Freeman in the opening inning, then kept the Braves off the board until Brian McCann tagged him for a two-run blast in the sixth, chasing him from the game. Sanchez is now 6-6 on the season. 


SP Max Scherzer: Back, late July

RP Jonny Venters: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, out mid-July 

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, out indefinitely 

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

Coming Up:

Sunday 7/21:  Nationals at Braves, 7:08 p.m., SunTrust Park

Monday 7/22:  Nationals vs Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Tuesday 7/23:  Nationals vs Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park

Source: Rotoworld