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Slaten does it all for Nats

Former Glendale Community College pitcher flourishing in different roles with Washington.

August 11, 2010|By Charles Rich,

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.


In retrospect, Slaten said he had something to prove after being released by Arizona. He's battled knee and arm problems for more than 10 years and has required several surgeries that temporarily derailed his ability to pitch to his capability.

Slaten found success at Syracuse, resulting in him being called up by the Nationals on May 9. He fired 17 scoreless innings in 11 appearances with the Chiefs and struck out 17 in 17 innings.

"After last season with Arizona, I went back to the drawing board," said Slaten, who had a 7.11 earned-run average in 11 appearances with the Diamondbacks last season. "I pretty much knew that I would be placed on waivers and I just had to keep working.

"I had some injuries, but then got back into shape. I went through some changes with my mechanics, like staying back and allowing my arm slot to improve. It was a day-by-day process for me. Then a few things started to click at Syracuse."

Slaten, who played for Glendale college for part of the 1999 campaign before making his major league debut in 2006 with Arizona, has flourished since being promoted by the Nationals. In 33 appearances, he's 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA. He's struck out 23 and walked eight in 26 innings.

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