VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals trimmed their roster to 52 on Monday by optioning right-handers Brett Campbell and Jermaine Van Buren to Triple-A Columbus. The club also reassigned outfielder Darnell McDonald and left-hander Chris Michalak to Minor League camp.
With 38 pitchers in camp, Campbell was never able to get into an exhibition game. Instead, he pitched in the team's accelerated intrasqaud games.
Van Buren was able to get into three exhibition games and gave up two runs in three innings. He gave up the game-winning single to Dodgers outfielder Larry Bigbie on Sunday.
McDonald had only one hit in 10 at-bats, but that one hit was a three-run homer against the Mets. The chances of him making the team were slim, because the starting outfield is set with Ryan Church playing left field, Nook Logan in center and Austin Kearns in right. Plus, the Nationals have Chris Snelling, Alex Escobar, Abraham Nunez and Michael Restovich battling for the backup roles.
Michalak was surprised by the demotion. He gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings, but was informed that he didn't have enough first-pitch strikes, walked too many hitters (five) and opposing teams had a high on-base percentage against him (.393).
On Sunday, Michalak pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits against the Dodgers. The two runs were scored in the first inning, when Jeff Kent hit a two-run shot. Michalak left the game in the third with the bases loaded and one out, but left-hander Mike Bacsik got Kent to hit into a double play.
"I thought I threw the ball better [on Sunday]," Michalak said. "I thought I was on the right track to iron some things out. The reason they gave me [for being demoted] was that they were running out of innings and I had not separated myself from everybody else."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.