Washington Nationals starting pitcher Lucas Giolito (44) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens
July 08, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) The Washington Nationals have placed first baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list with a left rib cage strain and optioned prized pitching prospect Lucas Giolito to Triple-A Syracuse.

Speedy utilityman Trea Turner and outfielder Michael Taylor were recalled from Syracuse. The moves were made Friday before first-place Washington played the New York Mets in the second game of a four-game series between the top teams in the NL East.

Zimmerman was put on the DL retroactive to Thursday. He homered Wednesday against Milwaukee but sat out Thursday night against the Mets with soreness, leaving manager Dusty Baker and the Nationals a player short in their 9-7 loss.

''I felt this is the right move regardless, because it's such a late time of the season. You can't afford to lose a guy for six to eight weeks or whatever, however long it takes if he'd really hurt it, pulled it,'' Baker said. ''He's already operating kind of from behind trying to get his stroke together. So we thought that was definitely the right move for him and us.''

The 31-year-old Zimmerman is batting .221 with 12 homers, 13 doubles and 38 RBIs.

Giolito, who turns 22 next week, made two major league starts - both against the Mets - after he was called up from Double-A Harrisburg. He threw four shutout innings of one-hit ball in his rain-shortened debut June 28, but didn't fare nearly as well Thursday night at Citi Field.

Handed a 4-1 lead, he faded fast and was pulled after throwing 90 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander gave up four runs, seven hits and four walks.

The 23-year-old Turner, another top prospect, went 3 for 3 with a double and a walk during a two-game stint with the Nationals early last month. He was hitting .302 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 83 games at Syracuse, leading the International League in runs (61), triples (8), doubles (22) and stolen bases (25).

Taylor was optioned to Syracuse on Monday and played one game there before returning to the majors. He was batting .225 with six homers, 10 doubles, 12 RBIs and 10 steals in 60 games for Washington this year.

Turner and Taylor were both available off the bench Friday night against the Mets.

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