WASHINGTON -- Sandy Leon is feeling good as he continues his recovery from the high right ankle sprain he suffered on May 14 during his first Major League game.
The Nationals have already played five different catchers this season. Opening Day starter Wilson Ramos tore his ACL going after a passed ball two days before Leon was injured, and is out for the season. Jesus Flores has taken over as the starter, with Minor League callups Carlos Maldonado and Jhonatan Solano also seeing time behind the plate.
"I feel a lot better," Leon said. "I'm running, take two days off. I'm feeling better. I'm playing catch, started hitting, too. I'm going to Florida in one week. After Florida, I don't know where I'll be going."
Nats add veteran lefty Gonzalez to 'pen
WASHINGTON -- In an effort to shore up their bullpen depth, the Nationals have purchased the contract of lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez and optioned righty Ryan Perry to Triple-A Syracuse, it was announced on Sunday. Closer Drew Storen was also transferred to the 60-day DL.
The Nats agreed to terms with Gonzalez, 34, on May 4, and he reported to the team's Spring Training complex in Viera, Fla., where he has spent most of the season since being signed. Gonzalez had offseason surgery on his left knee but looked fine in his first action with Washington on Sunday, pitching the eighth inning and allowing just one hit with one strikeout in the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Braves.
"It was just great to get out there finally, man," Gonzalez said. "It felt like it had been two years since I had been out there. After that surgery, it feels like forever. Once I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, after throwing that one inning at Triple-A, I was like, 'I'm ready to get out here and get going.'"
Gonzalez pitched 1 1/3 innings for Syracuse earlier this season, striking out two of the four batters he faced. He spent the 2011 season with the Orioles and Rangers, recording a 4.39 ERA while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 56 games. In his nine-year career, which began with a four-year stint with the Pirates and three years with the Braves, Gonzalez holds a 2.94 ERA with 56 saves and a 17-21 record.
"He is a very accomplished, veteran left-handed relief pitcher," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We felt it was a good fit for us at this time, with some of the injuries that we have in the bullpen. He is a guy with great character that I've admired as a person for years. He is battled-tested and he is Major League ready."
Gonzalez, who appeared in seven games for the Rangers last season and allowed four earned runs in seven innings pitched, said he signed with the Nationals because he sees them as a team ready to contend.
"Well, first of all, you see the team and they're obviously contenders," Gonzalez said. "I finished up with Texas last year, and I got to see what kind of ballclub they were. These guys can contend. I think they're a powerhouse here. There were quite a few options to go different places, and I felt like this would be a good opportunity for me, not just to come and pitch, but also to win ballgames."
Perry's last appearance for the Nats came on May 30 against the Marlins, in which he allowed one earned run on two hits in a 5-3 loss. For the season, Perry has a 10.13 ERA in eight innings pitched.
Storen, meanwhile, continues to rehab from the surgery he underwent in May to remove bone chips in his pitching elbow. He is expected to return around the All-Star break.
Bernadina being patient with bench role
WASHINGTON -- Roger Bernadina has played in 40 of the Nats' 51 games, but primarily in a backup role as he continues to struggle at the plate. Bernadina entered Sunday's series finale with Atlanta batting just .230 with two home runs, 11 RBIs and a .320 on-base percentage.
His .511 slugging percentage in May led the team, but as the longest-tenured National, his future with the club may be coming into question.
"I don't want to say that yet, but time will tell," Bernadina said. "I just pinch-hit, whatever I can do to help the team in the moment."
Bernadina has two hits in his seven pinch-hit at-bats, though his role in the outfield was further diminished when Michael Morse was activated off the disabled list on Friday.
"For now, we're winning," Bernadina said. "You've got to hang with it right now and be patient, but I don't know how much patience I have. We'll see."
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.