ATLANTA -- Right-hander A.J. Cole was scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Syracuse on Friday night against Lehigh Valley. Instead, on Wednesday night, Cole was told to head to Atlanta and meet the Nationals for the four-game series against the Braves.
Cole, who was 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA for Syracuse, is the Nationals' No. 13 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. For now, he will not be a starter but will work out of the bullpen. The Nationals are in desperate need of bullpen help, because the relievers pitched a combined 18 1/3 innings during the three-game series against the Rockies. The last time Cole was a reliever was last year with the Nationals.
"We made a move to shore up our bullpen," manager Dusty Baker said. "Cole's reports have been good. I saw him in Spring Training for the first time. I told him he is probably our long man tonight. Hopefully we don't need him. After that he is [a] middle and short reliever."
With Cole back in the big leagues, the Nationals optioned outfielder Brian Goodwin to Triple-A Syracuse. In seven games, Goodwin was 4-for-16 with two RBIs, but he left a good impression with Baker.
"He did an outstanding job for us. He has come a long way since we first saw him in Spring Training," Baker said. "He was disappointed by what I told him: 'Hey, we need the spot and there is a good chance you will be back within 12 days when the roster expands.'"
• First baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Jose Lobaton are expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list and return to the Nationals on Friday, according to Baker. During their rehab assignments, both players were with Syracuse. Zimmerman (left wrist contusion) was 6-for-12, while Lobaton (left elbow tendinitis) went 5-for-13 with an RBI.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.