Batista to be Nationals' long man

Batista to be Nationals' long man

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman all but announced on Friday that Miguel Batista is his long man out of the bullpen, even though the right-hander is not having a strong Spring Training.

With Batista expected to be placed on the 25-man roster on April 4, it means that the team's bullpen is set with Batista, Jason Bergmann, Brian Bruney, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps and Tyler Clippard. Riggleman also said Batista, 39, will be an emergency starter for the club.

Entering Friday's action against the Cardinals, Batista has given up six runs in 9 2/3 innings, along with seven strikeouts.

"For myself, I go on the track record of a long season," Riggleman said. "Last year, he pitched very effectively for Seattle. He had [a 4.04 ERA] in the tough American League and handled a lot of roles. He pitched in the middle of the game, late in games and situational stuff. He is used in a lot of ways.

"He is a guy we are going to count on to do a lot of things for us when the bell rings. When he is out here pitching, we would like to see him get outs and all that. As much as anything, we want to make sure that he continues to be what he is, which is a guy with a rubber arm who can pitch often and be a real staff savior for us."

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Batista has been a swing man since 1997, when he was with the Cubs. And his manager at the time was Riggleman. While he doesn't mind playing dual roles, Batista likes being a reliever, because he can help the team on a regular basis.

"It has been kind of a curse in my career, because everybody always thinks I have the mentality to switch back and forth, so I'll be the first one they call," Batista said.

Batista signed a Minor League deal with the Nationals in January because of his professional relationship with general manager Mike Rizzo. The two won a championship together when they were with the D-backs in 2001. That year, Batista was a swing man when Rizzo was the scouting director.

According to Batista, Rizzo told the right-hander he was building something special in Washington, and Rizzo wanted Batista to be a part of the organization.

"He saw me be a swing man back in 2001 and '03," Batista said. "I was the best-paid swing man in the game. [A] lot of people never looked it at that way. I played for Riggleman. He told me, 'I still have my fastball. You are a guy that is mentally strong to do this. Every team needs a guy like you. You're my man.'"

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.