When the bullpen phone rings in the middle or late innings, there's a reasonably good chance Doug Slaten will be asked to start warming up for a potential key game situation.
The towering Slaten might be called in to pitch to one batter or toss two innings. Whatever the case, it's up to Slaten to have the confidence that he can get a big out and keep the Washington Nationals in line for a victory.
"When the phone rings, I can see what I have to do," Slaten, a left-handed reliever and a one-time Glendale Community College athlete, said before a recent Washington contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. "There are a lot of different scenarios, so you always have to be ready.
"I might be called in to face a lefty batter or give the team a couple of innings. That's my role."
The 6-foot-5 Slaten, who was claimed on waivers by Washington in November after spending the first part of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, has made the grade of late for a Washington squad oozing with young talent. Slaten, 30, spent the first part of the season with the triple-A Syracuse Chiefs of the International League.