Saturday, June 30, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — It was not a big surprise that right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hellickson came off the 10-day disabled list to start here Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.

What was somewhat surprising was that veteran lefty reliever Sammy Solis was the pitcher the Nationals sent to Triple-A Syracuse of the International League to make room for Hellickson on the 25-man roster.

“It was very tough,” manager Dave Martinez said of giving the news to Solis. “I am a big Solis fan. Hopefully, he will be back here soon. I want him to get reps against left-handed hitters. We just want him to work on some stuff and get lefties out. There are a lot of other options we have. I know he is going to do down there and work.”

Solis, 29, has appeared in 40 games out of the bullpen for Washington and that was tied for second in the National League through Friday. He was 1-1 with an ERA of 4.50 and was second on the team in holds with 12. Lefty hitters are batting .245 against him with three homers in 53 at-bats.

This will the fourth year in a row Solis will spend time with both the Nationals and Syracuse. He made his big league debut in 2015 and last year pitched in 30 games for the Nationals and 13 for Syracuse.

“I didn’t see it coming,” said Solis, after changing into street clothes before Saturday’s game. “Obviously I need some time to cool down. It is never fun getting sent down, especially when you laid it all on the line. Hopefully, I will be back sooner rather than later.”

Solis got well wishes from several of his teammates, including Bryce Harper and Brandon Kintzler, before leaving the clubhouse.

Other lefties who remain in the bullpen for the Nationals are closer Sean Doolittle (2-2, 1.60 in 32 games), Matt Grace (0-0, 3.38 in 20 games) and Tim Collins (0-0, 3.38 in 14 games). A non-roster invite to spring training, Collins was called up to the Nationals in May from Syracuse. He lives in the Richmond area during the winter.

Solis has appeared in a franchise-high eight postseason games with the Nationals.

In other moves Saturday the Nationals transferred first baseman Ryan Zimmerman to the 60-day disabled list and reinstated catcher Raudy Read, who had been on the restricted list, and also sent him to Syracuse.

Zimmerman has not played since May 10 due to a right oblique strain. He is hitting .217 with five homers and 16 RBI in 35 games. Read played in eight games for the Nationals in 2017 and was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball in February due to the use of a banned substance.

Other catchers with Syracuse of late have included former big leaguer Tuffy Gosewisch and Jake Lowery, who is from the Richmond area and played at James Madison University in Virginia. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2011 by Cleveland out of JMU.

Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, on the disabled list since June 10 with right shoulder inflammation, threw a bullpen session Saturday. “He said he feels fine. Moving forward we will see how he feels tomorrow and go from there,” Martinez said.

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