WASHINGTON, D..C.: Jose Lobaton took a slider off his left ankle early in Thursday’s series finale with the Atlanta Braves, and left the game after initially trying to walk it off.
Pedro Severino took over behind the plate for Washington’s backup backstop, and Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters after what ended up a 5-2 win that Lobaton might miss some time since he got hit on an ankle that was already an issue for the veteran catcher.
“Loby has a contusion on that same ankle, on the left ankle, cause that’s the ankle that was bothering him,” Baker said.
“X-rays were negative, and so he’ll be hobbling for a couple days.”
Severino, 24, took things the rest of the way on Thursday, and went 0 for 2, driving in a run with a ground ball when he beat a potential double play relay to first base.
“Sevy came in and took over for Loby and called a great game,” Baker said on Thursday night.
On Friday afternoon, the veteran skipper was asked about the luxury of being able to plug in a catcher as talented as Severino when Lobaton went down on a night off for Matt Wieters, one of a number of veterans who rested in the finale with the Braves.
“I think he’s one of the guys that’s big in our future,” Baker said of Severino, who Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo still referred to as the Nationals’ catcher of the future after acquiring Derek Norris this winter (before the Nationals signed Wieters).
“This guy can catch,” Baker continued. “He calls a good game, the umpires have told me that he receives the ball well, gives them a good look.
“He throws well, he runs well, you saw him beat out a double play last night. His future is big.
“We’ve got a couple guys coming. You look him, Raudy [Read] and [Spencer] Kieboom, those are some pretty good guys.
“When I look at Raudy and Severino, I think about like how it was with [Sandy] Alomar [Jr.] and Benito Santiago, when [the Padres] had both of them in organization and they had to choose which one they kept and then they ended up trading both of them.*
[ed. note - “Santiango left San Diego via free agency. Baker was speaking extemporaneously.”]
“So you can never have too much catching,” he added. “Especially Severino, he’s closer, but the upside on Raudy is big.”
Severino (15) and Read (14) are two of the four catchers in the organization listed on MLB.com’s list of the Top 25 prospects in the Nats’ system, along with Taylor Gushue (No. 23), and Jakson Reetz (No. 24).
Severino was included on the postseason roster in 2016, when Wilson Ramos blew out his knee late in the regular season.
Will Severino end up in the NLDS again this season?
Baker said on Friday afternoon that Lobaton was lucky to avoid a serious injury.
“He was walking without a limp today. I’m sure it’s sore. And so we dodged a bullet. It’s not fractured or cracked or anything, so that was big.”
Lobaton has, however, struggled at the plate this season, with a .153/.233/.267 line in limited action behind Wieters.
Defensively, things haven’t gone well for Lobaton either. He has a .984 fielding%, down from .997 and .994 in the previous two seasons, -3 Defensive Runs Saved (down from 1 DRS last season), and his Caught Stealing Percentage is down as well (21% from 28% and 26% in the previous two seasons).
Severino spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he put up a .242/.291/.332 line for the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate.
Will Baker consider keeping Severino around on the Nationals’ postseason roster instead of Lobaton in October?
According to Washington Post beat writer Jorge Castillo, the Nationals are considering carrying three catchers on their postseason roster.
It’s just one of several tough decisions Dusty Baker is going to have to make over the next few weeks.