The Nationals are switching things up at closer.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington’s Nats Insider, manager Davey Johnson announced Tuesday night that right-hander Henry Rodriguez has been demoted back to his old setup role.
Johnson will open things up in the ninth inning, giving save chances to a combination of Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen until Drew Storen (elbow surgery) is ready to return.
Rodriguez has allowed 10 hits, 13 walks and nine earned runs in 18 innings this season and has blown three saves. He’s one of the hardest-throwers in the major leagues but the 25-year-old failed to run with this particular opportunity to be a closer.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.