Looking to add some organizational catching depth, the Braves have signed Wil Nieves to a minor-league contract.
Nieves elected to become a free agent last week after being dropped from the 40-man roster by the Padres, who replaced the 37-year-old with prospect Austin Hedges.
Nieves has never been more than a backup-caliber catcher and even that might be a stretch at this point. He’s a career .241 hitter with a .597 OPS in 427 games spent with seven different teams.
Atlanta has A.J. Pierzynski and Christian Bethancourt splitting time behind the plate, so Nieves would probably need an injury to reach the majors again.
For the first time in Washington Nationals history the team used a position player to pitch when first baseman/outfielder Clint Robinson took the mound Tuesday for the eighth inning in a blowout loss to the Diamondbacks.
Arizona knocked starter Stephen Strasburg out in the fourth inning, getting to him for eight runs, but Robinson had a lot more success. Working with an 81-mph fastball and the occasional slider, Robinson tossed a scoreless inning, allowing only a single, and the left-hander even picked up a strikeout against former All-Star Aaron Hill.
James Wagner of the Washington Post writes that Robinson hadn’t pitched in 12 years:
So Robinson went down in the batting cage to warm up his arm. He hasn’t pitched since his senior year at Northview High in Dothan, Ala. in 2003. He was a two-way player then who, he said, reached the low-90s with his fastball. But he didn’t pitch often then because, he said laughing, it took him weeks to recover. But for one inning against the Diamondbacks, he was willing to try. He wasn’t nervous.
Robinson is a 30-year-old rookie with eight seasons and nearly 4,000 plate appearances in the minors, so of course he raised his hand when Nationals manager Matt Williams asked who was willing to pitch.
Hisashi Iwakuma’s rehab for a strained lat muscle has been shut down for at least 10-14 days after the Mariners right-hander felt soreness while playing catch over the weekend.
Iwakuma was supposed to miss 2-4 weeks when he was placed on the disabled list three weeks ago, but Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that he “isn’t anywhere close to returning” and “he’s likely looking at late June before he’d be ready to rejoin the Mariners at the earliest.”
In other words, any further delays and Iwakuma may end up missing the remainder of the first half. He also got off to a rough start before going on the DL, allowing 13 runs in 16.2 innings following a three-year run in which he went 38-20 with a 3.07 ERA and 440/106 K/BB ratio in 524 innings for the Mariners.
Left-hander Roenis Elias will continue to fill in for Iwakuma.