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Final outing helps Rodriguez make Nats' roster

Final outing helps Rodriguez make Nats' roster

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals settled on their 25-man roster for Monday's 1:05 p.m. ET regular-season opener against the Marlins after reliever Henry Rodriguez locked down the final spot with a strong performance in Friday afternoon's 4-2 exhibition loss to the Yankees.

Manager Davey Johnson confirmed that the right-hander has made the team over lefty J.C. Romero following the game, in which Rodriguez tossed a scoreless sixth inning. Romero didn't pitch but was one of three extra players the Nationals brought to the game, along with infielder Will Rhymes and righty Christian Garcia, who is on the disabled list. Romero now figures to begin the season at Triple-A Syracuse instead of serving as Washington's second southpaw in the bullpen behind Zach Duke.

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Romero was providing insurance in case Rodriguez couldn't show he was ready for Opening Day. Rodriguez's 2012 season ended in August, when he had surgery to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow. Right forearm tightness delayed his debut this spring, and the 26-year-old flamethrower closed Grapefruit League play with 10 walks in 8 2/3 innings.

"If he's healthy, he's going to pitch," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Rodriguez before the game.

Johnson emphasized that despite Rodriguez's bouts of wildness -- he walked 6.8 batters per nine innings last season -- he still believes in a pitcher who averages about 98 mph with his fastball.

"He's still a great talent, and I'm certainly not anywhere close to giving up on him," Johnson said.

"If he's healthy, he's got three off-the-charts big league pitches."

Rodriguez did issue a walk in Friday's appearance but easily retired the other three batters he faced and threw nine of his 14 pitches for strikes.

Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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