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Lannan still could be sent to AAA

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Lannan still could be sent to AAA

The Nationals' unconventional decision to have veteran John Lannan pitch most of last season at Syracuse despite a $5 million salary seemed like a one-time move with no chance to be repeated.

Turns out the Nationals do have the ability to send the left-hander back to Class AAA in 2013 because he still has one remaining minor-league option.

The remaining option, confirmed by a club official, comes as a surprise to many who believed Lannan had already used up all three given to professional ballplayers. What most didn't realize what that the option the Nationals used on Lannan at the beginning of the 2008 season didn't count because he was recalled to the majors only eight days later.

The "option" terminology is a bit misleading, because each one encompasses an entire season. For example, Lannan was optioned to Syracuse three separate times this year, but that counted as only one of his three career options.

Lannan also spent five weeks at Class AA Harrisburg during the summer of 2010, using up a second option. But what was previously believed to be a third option in 2008 doesn't actually count.

On March 26, 2008, the Nationals optioned the lefty to what was then their Class AAA affiliate in Columbus. He never actually appeared in a game, though, and was quickly recalled on April 4 after closer Chad Cordero was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that an option is used up only if a player spends at least 20 days in the minors. Lannan spent only eight days with Columbus and remained in the majors the rest of the 2008 season; thus he never used up his option.

The end result of all this: If they want, the Nationals could do the same thing to Lannan in 2013 that they did this year. If tendered a contract before tomorrow night's deadline, he'll be guaranteed to make at least $4 million next season. The Nationals could either keep him in their Opening Day rotation, trade him to another club or once again send him to Syracuse to serve as a valuable (albeit pricey) insurance policy in case one of their other starters is injured.

What about the rule that gives veteran players the right to refuse assignment to the minors? That only applies to those who have at least five full years of big-league service time.

Though he's now appeared in parts of six big-league seasons, Lannan has only accrued 4 years and 96 days of service time, leaving him 84 days short of veteran status.

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Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

Nats beat Mariners behind Joe Ross' career day in return from minors

WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in five runs, Joe Ross returned from the minors to allow one run over a career high-tying eight innings, and the Washington Nationals routed the Seattle Mariners 10-1 on Tuesday night.

Bryce Harper added his 14th homer and Jayson Werth hit his seventh off Chris Bergman (1-2), who allowed all of the Nationals' runs and 14 of their 15 hits.

Rendon doubled before his second homer -- and seventh of the season -- completed an eight-run fourth inning. Ryan Zimmerman also had three hits.

Mike Zunino homered off Ross (2-0) in his return from his own minor league stint. Robinson Cano was hitless in his first game back from the disabled list following a thigh injury as Seattle dropped its fourth straight.

Ross showed no signs of the late April struggles that ended with a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. He yielded five hits and a walk while striking out six, and retired 12 straight batters after a leadoff single to begin the game.

By the time Seattle finally put multiple runners aboard, Washington had already opened a 10-0 lead.

Rendon's second-inning shot around the left field foul pole made it 2-0.

Then Werth, Harper and Rendon all connected in the fourth, helping the Nationals score seven of their eight runs in the inning with two outs.

MORE NATIONALS: WATCH: Werth, Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nationals win

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WATCH: Werth and Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nats win

WATCH: Werth and Harper go back-to-back, Rendon hits 2 HRs in Nats win

The Nationals had a big day at the plate Tuesday night.

Washington hit four home runs, including three in an eight-run fourth inning, in its 10-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon hit two home runs – the first a two-run blast to left field in the second inning and the second a three-run shot to center in the fourth. He finished the game 3-for-4 with five RBIs.

Prior to Rendon’s second homer in the fourth inning, left fielder Jayson Werth hit a two-run blast to left field, which was followed by a solo shot from right fielder Bryce Harper in the next at-bat.

Harper’s homer was measured at 450 feet.

At the end of the fourth, the Nationals led 10-0, which also included an RBI single from catcher Matt Wieters and an RBI triple from shortstop Trea Turner.

Tuesday night’s contest was the first of a three-game home series against the Mariners, who play in the American League. The Nationals and Mariners also will play Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier this season in a 23-5 win over the New York Mets on April 30, Rendon went 6-for-6 with three home runs and 10 RBIs to become the first player to accomplish that feat since at least 1913. He now has seven homers this season.

Harper’s homer was his 14th of the season, tying him for first in the National League with the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman. The New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge is first with 15.

Though he did not have a home run Tuesday night, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has 13 for the season.

MORE NATIONALS: 2017 MLB Power Rankings: As Bryce Harper goes, so do the Nationals