Washington Nationals: Everyone rooting for Aaron Barrett this spring
By Blake Finney
It’s been a long road back for Aaron Barrett since his last appearance with Washington Nationals, but now he’s back this spring on a non-roster invite.
It’s been just over three seasons since Aaron Barrett took the mound for the Washington Nationals in a big league game. But the lovable right-hander is back this spring with a non-roster invitation, ready to complete his long comeback.
Barrett became a huge fan favorite in his first season with the Nationals, recording a 2.66 ERA in 50 appearances back in 2014. Even though he had a 4.60 ERA the next season, he was still pitching fairly well before the injury bug set in.
Since his last major league appearance in August 2015, Barrett has had several rough injuries that have kept him sidelined. He underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2015, before surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankle and then fractured his right elbow, leaving his career prospects in doubt.
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Despite the numerous setbacks, Barrett kept progressing and persevering to eventually get back on a mound again. Before the 2018 season, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals ready to ramp up his recovery in the minors.
With the Auburn Doubledays last season, Barrett began to look like his old self, pitching to the tune of 1.74 ERA in 20 appearances, striking out 26 in 20.2 innings. Though the stats looked good against inferior competition, it was reported that the righty’s fastball was sitting a little lower than before in the low-90s with Auburn, while he sat in the mid-90s before the injuries.
“I think the velocity will be the last thing to come,” Barrett told David Driver of The Washington Times last year. And assuming it does come back, it will be a testament to Barrett’s drive and desire after so many bumps in the road.
Nats pitching coordinator for player development, Paul Menhart, also spoke to Driver about the right-hander’s progress. “He has an inner fuel that is unmatched in my view. He is not going to quit unless his stuff is not (big league quality) or someone takes the uniform away from him. He has done a miraculous job to get to the point to just throw a baseball.”
That brings us to the present day, with Aaron Barrett joining big league spring training on a non-roster invite. A large portion of the major league bullpen appears to be set, with four or five players likely secure in their spots. That leaves 2-4 spots available, which Barrett unfortunately, appears to be a long shot for.
But if he can continue to progress in full-season ball this season, perhaps stepping up to Double-A or Triple-A, he could position himself to return to the big leagues this summer if he performs. We can all agree on the fact that it would be great to see the man the fans called “The Bear” back in the big leagues with a Curly W on his cap one day. That may end up being this year.
Aaron Barrett was a beloved reliever in his first couple of seasons with the Washington Nationals in 2014 and 2015. He has a chance to make it back there against all odds, and is someone that everybody should be rooting for during Spring Training.