Lefty Krol finds his place in Nationals bullpen

Lefty Krol finds his place in Nationals bullpen

Lefty Krol finds his place in Nationals bullpen

CLEVELAND -- When the regular season started, Nationals left-hander Ian Krol wasn't thinking about playing in the big leagues until sometime in May, when Double-A Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy started using Krol in consecutive days out of the bullpen.

At first, Krol felt the team was preparing him to go to Triple-A Syracuse. Imagine how surprised he was that he was going straight to the big leagues. Manager Davey Johnson has made Krol one of his late-inning relievers.

On Saturday, for example, Krol entered the game in the seventh inning with the team behind, 6-5. He shut down the Indians for 1 2/3 innings and struck out three batters before the Nationals rallied to win the game, 7-6. Krol's fastball was clocked as high as 95 miles per hour.

"It's pretty surprising, jumping in there right away in critical parts of the game," Krol said. "But Davey knows what he wants. He does a great job with it. When called upon, we have to do our jobs. I have to go in there and take care of business."

Krol was the player to be named later in the three-team deal that sent slugger Michael Morse to the Athletics last offseason. Krol said the trade was good for him, as he needed a change of scenery after dealing with injuries and a suspension that lasted two months after making derogatory remarks on Twitter.

"It's a new start with a different team, just different faces," Krol said. "It's really a fresh start, not having to deal with troubles that I've had in the past. It's kind of like leaving that behind. [Being with the Nationals has] been great, to be honest with you. … It's behind me. It's just great to have the ultimate goal in your hand right now."

Asked if he would like to become a closer in the future, Krol said, "I'm taking this one day at a time. You don't see too many lefty closers in the big leagues. I know it. One day at a time."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.