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Washington Nationals’ tough decision on Kurt Suzuki — Suzuki remains on roster after a hip flexor issue

Kurt Suzuki had an MRI this afternoon, after a hip flexor issue in Game 3 of the World Series, and the Nationals needed to make a decision on whether he was available sooner than later...

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2019 World Series Game 3 - Houston Astros v. Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Kurt Suzuki left Game 3 of the World Series last night in Washington, D.C. after six innings behind the plate, with what Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the 4-1 loss Houston’s Astros was a hip issue.

“He felt something when he went to block that ball in his hip flexor,” Martinez explained.

“We don’t know the severity of it yet. We’ll know more tomorrow. But it is his right hip flexor.”

“His strength was good but we’ll see,” the second-year skipper continued.

“I don’t know if he’s going to get an MRI, I haven’t talked to [trainer] Paul [Lessard] yet or not about it. But we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Suzuki did get an MRI, but as of just after 4:00 PM EDT this afternoon, with the first pitch of Game 4 scheduled for 8:07 PM, the Nationals’ didn’t have a definitive answer as to whether or not the 36-year-old catcher would be available quickly enough to avoid making a difficult decision.

“He had an MRI this afternoon and I’m waiting on the doctor to see what the results were,” the manager said.

“He says he feels okay. But until we see those results, we’ll know more after.”

Yan Gomes, who has been behind the plate for each start the Nats’ Game 4 starter Patrick Corbin made this season, in the regular and postseason, was penciled into the lineup this evening, but the Nationals needed to know their backup catcher could go if necessary, or whether they’d need to make a roster move.

“That’s something we’re going to talk about with him and the doctor and Paul Lessard and see where we’re at,” Martinez said.

“Obviously we need a backup catcher. If he’s not going to be able to play for a few days, we’re going to have to do something else.”

One way or another, he explained, they needed to have an answer, and preferably sooner than later.

“I want a definitive today. I mean, we have to,” Martinez said. “So if we deem that he can’t be ready for a couple of days then we’re going to have to do something. If he’s just borderline -- but we’ll see.

“The last I spoke to him, he doesn’t feel as bad as he did yesterday. So that’s a good sign.

“But until I actually hear from the doctor and Paul [Lessard] and see what the results were, I can’t say at this point how long he’s going to be out.”

More important than the backup job tonight, of course, is having Suzuki available for Game 5, with Max Scherzer on the mound. With Suzuki behind the plate in the regular season, the righty had a 2.08 ERA and a .204/.252/.326 line against, vs a 4.09 ERA, and a .245/.284/.429 line against with Gomes catching him, though both Scherzer and his manager said that he’d be fine working with Gomes instead.

“Hopefully Suzuki can catch him,” Martinez said. “If not, then Gomes does a great job with him as well, and he’s caught it before. They’ll have a plan going into tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I mean, we’ve worked really well together,” Scherzer said when asked about Suzuki’s status, “... just being in sync of what pitch to throw and even in big situations.

“But I’ve also worked with Yan this year several times. Even when Zuke was down there in September, there was a handful of games where I was throwing to Yan.

“And so we do have a rapport with each other, we do understand what’s going on. And Yan is very astute to the game of being able to watch what’s going on and how I sequence guys and what we want to do. He’s catching tonight so he’s going to be able to see whatever is going on, get his feet wet. I feel comfortable throwing to Yan, as well.”

Two hours after Martinez spoke, the Nationals’ decision was made: Suzuki is staying on the roster.