The injuries for the Nats are quietly piling up: Howie Kendrick, Koda Glover and Justin Miller all probably won’t be on the roster for Opening Day. Speaking of, does anyone remember the time the Nats lauded their new medical system that would prevent injuries before they happened? Good times.
Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
Stark: Jayson Werth has some advice for Bryce on the sound and the fury of Philly (The Athletic)
Jayson Werth made it clear: Philly will boo Bryce Harper at the first chance they get. It just makes everything mean more when they win, apparently — and Harper will certainly get to experience tough love during one of his down streaks.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer shuns DH, decides to bat (ESPN)
Scherzer could have easily accepted a DH (some position player on the bubble probably would have appreciated it, in fact). Instead, he hit for himself, which he intends to do for the next three starts he makes this spring.
Miller's injury muddles middle relief for Nats (Nats lose 8-4) (MASN)
Justin Miller has a strained lower back muscle and has started the warmup process over, regressing to playing catch. Suddenly, with both him and Glover shut down, the Nats' middle relief seems a lot more shaky, with Vidal Nuño or Austen Williams potentially squeezing into the 25-man roster.
Howie Kendrick exits spring training game with left hamstring strain (WaPo)
Kendrick was understandably frustrated — and his loss could bear serious ramifications for a clubhouse in which he serves as a de facto leader. Luckily, it's not his achilles.
Kendrick and Scherzer shake off missteps in 8-4 defeat (MASN)
Max Scherzer labored in the fourth inning, though he thought it was a product of extending his pitch count when he wasn't quite ready — and Howie Kendrick's hamstring injury doesn't seem incredibly serious. Scherzer will be back in five days, and Kendrick will try to make it back quickly.
Nationals reliever Justin Miller recovering from lower-back muscle strain (WaPo)
Miller felt sharp pain in the middle of the night, and couldn't quite get right afterwards. Now, he's playing catch on the backfields, taking small steps towards a return. (Apparently, he was throwing exclusively with his arm to generate velocity, which is an, uh, interesting strategy.)
Nationals’ Jeremy Hellickson is tinkering with a slider in search of length and versatility (WaPo)
“I just think nowadays a slider is a big strikeout pitch, and I’ve just never had one,” Hellickson said Monday after giving up one run in three innings against the Miami Marlins. “I have the cutter to lefties, but it’s more . . . trying to get weak contact or something like that. The change-up is my strikeout pitch, so [the slider is] something different, a little harder going away to righties. It’s a tough pitch to throw; been trying to throw one forever.”
The Atlanta Braves Are Already Playing Catch-up Again (The Ringer)
"The kids must perform this year if the Braves are going to contend for the division. The Mets, Phillies, and Nationals brought in so much outside help that Atlanta has to improve from within in order to keep pace."
Now that he trusts fastball, Bourque must focus on commanding it (MASN)
James Borque probably won't crack the majors this year — but the 14th-rounder from 2014 out of Michigan has finally learned to trust his fastball instead of relying too heavily on his breaking ball. Now, he just needs to work on honing his location with what has oddly become a potent *secondary* pitch.