WASHINGTON -- To help an overworked bullpen, the Nationals recalled reliever Cole Kimball from Triple-A Syracuse and designated right-hander Brian Broderick for assignment Saturday.
The Nats were using five relievers, while Broderick and right-hander Henry Rodriguez were seldom called upon. Kimball, ranked the No. 8 prospect in the organization by MLB.com, most likely will serve as a middle reliever and work his way into the late innings.
General manager Mike Rizzo said it would have been unfair to keep Kimball in the Minor Leagues. He allowed one run in eight innings during Spring Training before being sent down. He put up similar numbers for Triple-A Syracuse, allowing a run in 13 2/3 innings. He went 1-0 with five saves and had a .163 batting average against in 12 relief appearances.
"Kimball has earned it. He has earned it since Spring Training," Rizzo said. "Kimball has thrown too well to keep him down in Triple-A. We felt we needed another reliable power arm in the bullpen. His stuff was good, the numbers were good, his attitude was ready for the big leagues."
Kimball has been a highly touted prospect since last season, when he went a combined 8-1 with a 2.17 ERA and 18 saves for Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Kimball is the first Nats player from the 2006 First-Year Player Draft to be promoted to the big leagues.
"I'm excited to come up to the big leagues. All the work I did paid off," Kimball said. "Now I have to keep working even harder and try to stay here. We have a good group here and are in a lot of tight ballgames."
A few hours after being recalled, Kimball made his Major League debut in a 1-0 loss to the Marlins on Saturday at Nationals Park.
Kimball entered in the top of the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning. He struck out Gaby Sanchez and walked Mike Stanton after being ahead in the count 0-2.
Kimball acknowledged that he was nervous. Both of his legs were shaking, but he settled down in time to have a nice debut.
"It was exciting. It would have been better if we had won," Kimball said. "I just want to help out. Getting the call up and a chance to be in these tight games, it's a thrill. It's awesome."
As for Broderick, he went 0-1 with a 6.57 ERA in 11 appearances with Washington. Manager Jim Riggleman was sometimes reluctant to use him during close games. Broderick spent most of his pro career as a starter and was not used to being a reliever.
The Nats have 10 days to trade Broderick, reassign him to the Minor Leagues or release him. Being that he was a Rule 5 Draft pick, Broderick could also be returned to the Cardinals.
"I don't think he pitched all that badly. I think his repertoire is as a starter and he has never pitched out of the bullpen," Rizzo said. "It was a tough situation for him to stay on the club for that reason. He was unfamiliar with the role, how to prepare and how to bounce back. He gave it his all. We really like him. I think he has a bright future in the big leagues."
Desmond not in lineup, but feeling better
WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was not in the lineup Saturday after suffering a quadriceps injury the previous day. However, Desmond said he feels much better and should be available to play Saturday off the bench.
"It feels a lot better today," said Desmond, who was replaced by Alex Cora. "I'm getting my treatment. I'm getting it taken care of. I'll be available today if they need me. I'll be ready to go 100 percent [Sunday].
Desmond said he hurt the quad running the bases early in Friday's game.
Stairs, Morse will see time at DH vs. Orioles
WASHINGTON -- When the Nationals play the Orioles next week in Baltimore, look for manager Jim Riggleman to use Matt Stairs and Michael Morse as the designated hitters.
Stairs will face right-handers, while Morse will face lefties.
Riggleman was considering using Adam LaRoche as the Nats' DH in Baltimore because of his sore left shoulder, but LaRoche will remain at first base.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.