Baseball

When the Washington Nationals optioned pitcher Aaron Barrett to AAA Syracuse April 12, it was because manager Matt Williams needed someone who could offer multiple innings of relief.

Since then, the Nationals have fallen on hard times in short relief situations, so the club could hardly wait for the 10-day minimum on callbacks to expire, and Tuesday recalled the former Wabash Valley College star back from Syracuse.

The Nats sent lefty Xavier Cedeno back to the minors.

Barrett didn’t waste any time in making his presence felt. He worked a scoreless ninth inning of the Nats’ 7-2 loss to the Angels.

“It was a little bit of a shock,” Barrett told Andrew Simon of mlb.com about the recall. “I know they told me it had to be 10 days, but at the same time, did I really expect it to be on the 10th day? Not really. I was just going down to Triple-A and expecting to get my work in, and if it happened, it happened. Just glad to be here.”

In the ninth, Barrett struck out Ian Stewart, got J.B. Shuck to ground to second, then fanned Mike Trout to end the frame.

“From what I’ve seen, every situation we’ve put him in, he’s aggressive and he’s commanded the zone and he’s gone after hitters,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t expect anything else from Aaron. That’s just his mentality.

Williams hinted that they may begin to move the rookie righthander into more testing situations.

“We’re going to look at what the situation is in the course of a game and make a decision on who to bring in. But Aaron is certainly confident in himself, and we’re confident in him.”

Tuesday was Barrett’s seventh straight scoreless appearance out of the bullpen. In 5.1 innings, he has allowed only one hit while striking out eight. A winner on opening day in his only decision to date, his ERA remains 0.00.

Barrett was on hand to witness a milestone by Angels slugger Albert Pujols, who hit his 500th career home run.

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