WASHINGTON (AP) -Veteran left-handed reliever Ray King was contemplating retirement Thursday, when he was optioned to Triple-A Columbus by the Washington Nationals before their game against the New York Mets.
The Nationals made the move, which King called ``very surprising,'' so they could select left-hander Mike O'Connor's contract from Columbus.
O'Connor, 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA as a starter at Columbus, will move into Washington's short-handed bullpen and give the team someone who can stay longer in a game than King.
``We really don't have a long guy to eat those innings,'' general manager Jim Bowden said.
The 34-year-old King allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning in Washington's 7-2 loss to New York on Wednesday, leaving his ERA at 5.68 this season. He has no decisions in 12 appearances covering a total of 6 1-3 innings.
King, who first reached the majors in 1999 with the Chicago Cubs, has 72 hours to accept the assignment to the minors.
``I don't want to go to Triple-A,'' King said, adding that he would talk things over with his agent and family before deciding what to do.
He said he might ask the Nationals to release him or try to trade him.

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