With the calendar about to shift to September, the Nationals have plans to expand their roster in time for Saturday's game against the Cardinals.
Manager Davey Johnson said the club will recall left-hander John Lannan, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Eury Perez from Class AAA Syracuse. Veteran utilityman Mark DeRosa also will be activated off the disabled list after missing the last month with an abdominal strain.
The Nationals plan more reinforcements next week, after Syracuse's season ends on Monday. Johnson hinted that outfielder Corey Brown and reliever Christian Garcia will join the big-league roster at that point.
Of the September call-ups, Lannan figures to have the greatest impact. The left-hander was kept at Class AAA the entire season (aside from two spot starts during doubleheaders) specifically to take over the rotation spot that will become vacant when Stephen Strasburg is shut down.
Lannan, owner of a career 40-51 record and 3.99 ERA in 130 big-league starts, finished off his minor-league season in impressive fashion, tossing back-to-back, nine-inning shutouts. That helped reinforce the club's plan to keep a 5 million pitcher at Class AAA the entire season, if only to have him available for a handful of late-September starts.
"It's great," Johnson said. "He's had a great attitude down there and come up and really been excited about coming up and helping us win. ... I think his arm and his head and everything is in the right spot. There was never going to be any doubt of who was going to be the guy that came in to replace Stras. There have been all kinds of other guys available, but that's how high we are on John."
Leon will serve as the Nationals' third catcher, giving Johnson the ability to use one of his veterans (Kurt Suzuki or Jesus Flores) as a pinch-hitter without risk of losing his only remaining backstop.
Perez is the least-experienced of the call-ups, having appeared in only 40 games at Class AAA. But the 22-year-old outfielder possesses one key skill the Nationals hope to use to their advantage: speed. Perez has stolen 51 bases this season, and he'll be asked to serve as a pinch-runner in key spots down the stretch.
DeRosa, meanwhile, hopes to enjoy some late success at the end of a frustrating season. The 37-year-old was expected to be a big contributor off the bench, but he's battled injuries to his oblique and abdominal muscles and has hit only .152 in 34 games.