Koda Glover was up to 22 pitches on the afternoon after issuing three consecutive one-out walks in Sunday’s Grapefruit League game against the St. Louis Cardinals. His struggles on the mound prompted Washington Nationals’ pitching coach Derek Lilliquist to make a trip out to talk to him, and after a brief discussion the righty was lifted with what Nats’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the game was tightness in his elbow.
Glover, 25, came into Spring Training this year talking about changes to his workout routine, which, on the advice of teammate Max Scherzer, had him throwing more often than he had in previous offseasons.
It was an attempt by the hard-throwing reliever to figure out some way to stay healthy after dealing with a variety of injury issues over his first three big league campaigns.
“My generation was: ‘You take three months off, and it’s good for you,’” Glover explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman last week.
“Well, talking to Max, it’s: ‘No, you gotta keep your arm going.’ So once-to-three times a week, I’d pick a ball up, or a football or a rock, something, and just throw. And it responded well.”
“I didn’t put the ball down,” Glover added. “I threw all offseason, and I responded really well to it.”
Glover’s manager talked early this Spring about what he would do to try to keep the 2015 8th Round pick healthy.
“He worked hard all winter, so he looks good right now,” Martinez said last week.
“With Koda, if you don’t know Koda, he’s 150% every time he does something. So we might have to pull the reins back a little bit, and figure out how many innings we want to give him down here, maybe let him throw less than what he’s typically thrown, because he wants to throw a lot, and just to get him ready to break camp.”
Glover’s abrupt exit on Sunday afternoon, Martinez said, came when they decided they needed to take the reliever out after Lilliquist spoke to him and Glover said he didn’t feel right.
“He said he felt great in the bullpen,” Martinez said. “When I sent Lilly out there, I just said: ‘Talk to him, see how he feels.’ And Lilly says: ‘He says he just didn’t feel right,’ so I told him to take him out.”
Martinez said then they would follow up and see how Glover felt on Monday.
It’s just the latest in a string of issues that the right-hander has dealt with since he rocketed through the organization to make his debut a little over a year after he was drafted.
GM Mike Rizzo told reporters in the winter of 2017-18, after Glover debuted in the majors and had his season end early with what was later diagnosed as a torn labrum in his hip in 2016, that in hindsight they may have rushed the reliever up to the majors.
Glover rehabbed from the hip issue, opting against surgery, but then dealt with back and shoulder issues (severe inflammation) in the 2017 campaign.
“We pushed him pretty fast,” Rizzo acknowledged.
“You talk about college to the big leagues in just a little over a year, and his stuff kind of dictated that he was moved at that pace. And I always think that relievers develop faster than any other position, and I think as much as his developmental curve affected him, I think his makeup affected him, because he tried to push through things.
“He tried to battle through things, he wanted to be in the big leagues and wanted to pitch through some pain, and I think that ended up biting him at the end.
“That’s part of youthful baseball players. They have the John Wayne syndrome. They want to battle through things and they want to fight through things, and they don’t want to be in the training room because they think that says something about their makeup, and he’s learning. He’ll figure it out, and I think he’s going to be a real big long-term piece for us.”
Glover came into Spring Training last February determined to turn things around, but he had rotator cuff issues early and was shut down with inflammation. He didn’t throw at all, competitively, until July, but he returned to the majors in August and finished out the year in the Nationals’ bullpen.
The Nats are hoping Glover can be a big part of the bullpen again this season, but an elbow issue out of the gate this Spring isn’t a great start.
Asked for an update on Monday afternoon, Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman again, that while Glover was frustrated, he told him to wait until they get the results of an MRI before deciding how to move forward.
“He was a little frustrated yesterday, yeah,” Martinez said. “I told him: ‘Take it easy. Don’t get all riled up now. Let’s see what’s going on and then we’ll go from there.’”
There were no updates after the Nationals’ game against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, so we’ll have to wait to learn what the MRI showed when the Nats’ skipper talks to reporters in advance of today’s matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals at home in West Palm Beach.
UPDATE: 9:00 AM EST - TUESDAY 2/26: Glover spoke to reporters this morning and said he had a forearm strain but no damage to the elbow ligament...
Koda Glover said he has a forearm strain, MRI showed his elbow ligament is “great.” Will shut it down for now to be careful, but “I think I’ll be ready for the season, no doubt.”— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) February 26, 2019