VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals made another round of roster cuts on Thursday, releasing outfielder Jason Michaels and reassigning infielder Andres Blanco to Minor League camp. They also optioned relievers Atahualpa Severino and Ryan Perry to Triple-A Syracuse.
"All of them proved they could play up here," manager Davey Johnson said. "But we are getting close [to Opening Day]. They need to get ready for their seasons."
Michaels, who plans to continue his professional baseball career, became expendable once Johnson decided on Wednesday that Xavier Nady would be given a chance to make the team as a bench player. Michaels was 9-for-37 (.243) with a homer and seven RBIs.
"I told him he had nothing to prove to me with the bat. It just wasn't quite a fit," Johnson said about Michaels. "I would have killed [to have him] last year. ... I like him. I like his makeup. I like what he brings to the ballclub, but it wasn't quite there for him."
Michaels had nothing but praise for the Nationals, stating they are a team on the rise in the National League East.
"I understood going in that nothing is a lock," Michaels said. "I had to work my way on the team. I'll tell you: This is a great team, a lot of talent. I guess I wasn't the right fit. But I was very gracious for the opportunity to come here and compete."
Asked if he felt Nady was the reason he was let go, Michaels said: "I didn't even think about that. He is a good player. I played with him in Pittsburgh."
Blanco played great defense around the infield, but was 2-for-32 (.063) this spring. His departure gives Steve Lombardozzi a greater chance to make the 25-man roster. Johnson didn't give any guarantees that Lombardozzi would make the club as a bench player. Entering Thursday's action, Lombardozzi is hitting .302 and leads the team in hits.
It's a given that infielder Mark DeRosa and catcher Jesus Flores will be on the bench, while Johnson continues to show an admiration for outfielder Brett Carroll.
Severino allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. His chances of making the team were slim due to the great talent in the bullpen. The same can be said for Perry, who allowed a run in eight innings with nine strikeouts.