WASHINGTON — Catcher Miguel Montero was designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals on Wednesday after going 0 for 11 in four games this season — and just 24 hours after he returned from paternity leave.
"The hardest thing for me is letting guys go like that," manager Dave Martinez said before the Nationals hosted the Atlanta Braves. "I've known Miggy for a long time, personally. Know his family. So it was tough. But he gets it."
The decision essentially boiled down to this: The Nationals would rather have up-and-coming, 24-year-old Pedro Severino than the 34-year-old Montero as their backup to starting catcher Matt Wieters.
In other moves Wednesday, Wieters was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list, left fielder Adam Eaton went on the DL and Moises Sierra's contract was selected from Triple-A Syracuse.
Eaton hurt his left ankle on an awkward slide home in Washington's home opener last week. He tried playing, then sat out games Monday and Tuesday with what the team said was a bone bruise. He originally injured that ankle in April 2017, on the same play that he tore the ACL in his left knee.
"We're going to be very, very cautious," Martinez said. "We don't want any setbacks on his knee. ... Our biggest concern is that he favors (the ankle) and does something to his knee at the same time. So we're trying to let it calm down and get him a little rest."
Montero agreed to a deal worth $1.3 million with the Nationals shortly before spring training and was picked over Severino to begin the regular season as Wieters' backup. But Wieters appeared in only two games before straining his left oblique muscle, making Montero the starter on a temporary basis.
Severino was called up to be the second catcher and has played well, batting .368 and earning the job as the primary backup now that Wieters is returning.
"What I like about Seve is that he took what we told him in spring training to heart and he's working every day to get to know the pitching staff. That's the biggest thing for us: calling pitches and working with the pitchers. He's done that and he's done it well," Martinez said. "I'm getting a lot of feedback saying that he's done a great job."
The 29-year-old Sierra hit .321 in spring training and fits Washington's need for a right-handed-hitting outfielder off the bench. He has played in a total of 180 major league games with the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox, but not since 2014.