JUPITER -- The battle for jobs in the Marlins bullpen just got less crowded.
Reliever Mike MacDougal, who converted 20 of his 21 save opportunities last season for the Nationals and was brought in as a fall back plan at closer for Leo Nunez, was released by the Marlins Tuesday morning. Left-handed reliever Hunter Jones was optioned to Triple A New Orleans.
Last Friday, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters of the seven available jobs in his bullpen, six had pretty much been locked up. That group included Nunez, Brian Sanches, Burke Badenhop, Jose Veras and left-handers Dan Meyer and Renyel Pinto.
MacDougal, signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, was considered a serious contender for the final vacant spot along with Seth McClung. Gonzalez said Friday Rick VandenHurk, Hayden Penn and Clay Hensley also would be candidates if they don't make the rotation. Other releivers still in the mix include Scott Strickland, Chris Leroux and Tim Wood.
MacDougal had struggled in five appearances this spring. He had a 9.64 ERA with seven walks and two strikeouts in just 4 2/3 innings.
Jones actually was pretty effective, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings and retiring 12 of the 15 batters he faced. But with Pinto and Meyer locked in to roles as left-handed relievers, he was sent down to Triple A where he'll get more work.