Former Nationals Ian Krol, Robbie Ray Aid First-place Tigers

Posted on May 15, 2014 by David Driver

BALTIMORE -- On the afternoon of May 14, as Doug Fister was getting ready to make his second start for the Nationals in Arizona, one of the players Washington traded to Detroit when it acquired Fister was in a delicate situation.

Ian Krol, a left-handed reliever for the Tigers, was summoned from the bullpen with two outs in the seventh inning at Camden Yards by rookie manager Brad Ausmus.

The task for Krol was to face Orioles lefty slugger Chris Davis, who led the major leagues in home runs with 53 last year.

Krol succeeded as Davis grounded out to short with a runner on base to end the seventh. That was the only batter Krol faced during the 7-5 victory, as he lowered his ERA to 2.19 this season. The Tigers improved to 24-12, the best record in the American League.

"It has been great," Krol said of the Tigers, before the series finale in Baltimore May 14. "Everyone here has made it easy for the transition. All in all, everyone has been great. It is a great organization; there is not too much pressure. It has been a great move for me."

Krol made his major league debut with Washington in 2013, as he pitched in 32 games out of the bullpen and posted a record of 2-1 with an ERA of 3.95.

He came to Washington before the 2013 season as part of a three-team trade, as the Nationals sent Michael Morse to Seattle while obtaining Krol from Oakland.

Krol said he had been in bed at 9 a.m. in early December when he learned of the trade to Detroit from Mike Rizzo, the general manager of the Nationals.

"At first I couldn't believe it, being traded two times in one year," Krol said. "It was kind of crazy. I took a couple of minutes to process it."

Krol said he kept in touch with current Washington reliever Aaron Barrett, his teammate last year at Double-A Harrisburg, and infielder Anthony Rendon, who also spent part of last year at Harrisburg.

Other players Washington traded to Detroit for Fister included pitcher Robbie Ray and infielder Steve Lombardozzi, an Atholton High grad who was then traded to the Orioles near the end of spring training.

Ray began the season in the minors at Triple-A Toledo, but was then called up to Detroit, and he went 1-0 with an ERA of 0.79 during his first two big league starts. As of May 15, Ray had one more big league win this season than Fister, who did not pitch until May 9 because of elbow problems.

"He has had plenty of success," Krol said of Ray, who began 2013 with Single-A Potomac before he made 11 starts for Harrisburg in the Eastern League. "Sometimes you are a big leaguer [who happens to be] in the minor leagues. Robbie is one of those guys. He has a good work ethic and a good arm."

The Tigers swept the series at Baltimore and will begin a series in Boston May 16. It will be a homecoming for Ausmus, who grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth in New Hampshire.

"It's a fun place to go," Ausmus said. "Fenway is where I saw my first 10 or so major league games. It's a great baseball atmosphere. The fans are into it. It's a cathedral in its own right."

Krol, who said he enjoyed playing for Ausmus, did not walk a batter during his first 17 outings for Detroit.

"I need to keep that up," Krol said. "I just like the fact [Ausmus] has confidence in me going out there, whether it is for one inning or facing a right hander. It is refreshing to see that he has confidence in me."

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