LOS ANGELES -- A day after watching their bullpen implode against the Dodgers, the Nationals designated left-hander Mike Hinckley for assignment and purchased the contract of left-hander Ron Villone from Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday.
Hinckley had a tough time throwing strikes, walking 11 batters in 9 2/3 innings. His last appearance was on Wednesday against Los Angeles. Hinckley didn't retire a batter and gave up two runs on one hit.
Hinckley entered Spring Training as an up-and-coming reliever after not allowing a run in 13 2/3 innings last September, but it went downhill for him starting in the spring.
"In September, he was lights out. He was pitching ahead of every hitter. He never had adversity. So we didn't know how he was going react [for this year]," manager Manny Acta said. "Right now, the way our bullpen is going, we can't afford to hide people in our bullpen and just use them when you are down by five runs until they get back to where they need to be. We need everybody to chip in and help us out. "
Villone, who was signed by the Nationals in early April, will be a middle reliever. He had a 2.35 ERA in eight games for Syracuse.
"He is a veteran guy and he has been around. He is throwing the ball well for us in Triple-A," Acta said. "We need some experience in our bullpen. We are going to continue to make some moves until we get this thing right."
The Nationals plan to go with a veteran presence in the bullpen for the rest of the season. According to two baseball sources, they are expected to call up right-handers Mike MacDougal and Jesus Colome within the next couple of weeks.
Both MacDougal and Colome are playing with Triple-A Syracuse and both have plus arms. Of the two, Colome is the most intriguing. He was released by the Nationals last December and signed a Minor League deal with the team before Spring Training started.
Colome had a chance to leave the Nationals after Spring Training and sign with another team, but his loyalty to Acta and acting general manager Mike Rizzo kept him in the organization.
Colome cannot play with the Nationals until May 15 because was released by the club. Had he been non-tendered, Colome would have been on the Opening Day roster.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.