Nationals' Severino Defying Odds En Route To Bullpen Job





VIERA, Fla. — Not many big leaguers are found for $6,000 bonuses or stand 5-feet-9 and weigh 170 pounds. By the end of this season, especially if all goes as well as it did last year, lefthanded reliever Atahualpa Severino may beat the odds.

After going 10-0, 2.62 in 69 innings with 15 saves between high Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, Severino claimed a spot on the 40-man roster this offseason, The 25-year-old then went 0-1, 1.74 in 10 innings in winter ball in his native Dominican Republic.

"I think what separates him is the fact that he enjoys the spotlight and he believes he's the right guy for the situation, no matter what it is," said Trent Jewett, who managed Severino last year at Potomac and may again this year at Triple-A Syracuse. "He believes his strengths will outlast the hitters' strengths."

In the Nationals' spring training home opener in Viera, Fla., Severino threw a shutout inning against the Mets. He allowed one hit in a cameo that looked good on a staff that allowed 56 runs and took five losses in its first five spring games.
Severino signed in 2004 and missed all of 2005 after having Tommy John surgery. His fastball is generally in the high 80s or low 90s and he also has a two-seamer, plus two other pitches that can be effective.

"We're excited about him," farm director Doug Harris said. "Of our bullpen arms, he's a lefty who has a real chance to help us."

CAPITAL GAINS

• The organization signed righthanded reliever Rafael Martin, a 25-year-old who grew up in California and became a prospect in the Mexican League, for a reported $450,000. He was 6-3, 4.12 with 65 strikeouts in 63 innings last year for Saltillo. "Our Latin American coordinator (Johnny DiPuglia) did a tremendous job on him," Harris said.

• Lefthander Glenn Gibson, who was traded straight up for Nationals right fielder Elijah Dukes in 2007, is back in the system after being released by the Rays. He was a fourth-round pick in 2006.