Davey Martinez pumped the brakes some on the chatter about veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki returning to Washington’s lineup in one of the two games of yesterday’s doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies in D.C., after the Nationals’ 7-2 win in the series opener on Monday night.
Suzuki, 35, injured his elbow on a throw to second in a September 7th game in Atlanta, and was working hard to return before the end of the regular season, but Martinez said that talk of the backstop playing one of the two games on Tuesday was slightly premature.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I really need to sit down and talk to [Trainer] Paul [Lessard], and I know [Suzuki] threw today. He didn’t throw great, but he threw. And he threw at 120 feet. He got down, he [simulated] catching, but I want to make sure that when he gets up tomorrow that he’s not sore.”
Bench coach Chip Hale, filling in for Martinez in Monday’s pregame talk with reporters, said if Suzuki was going to return, it would likely be in the second game of the doubleheader on Tuesday, since Max Scherzer, with whom Suzuki was working before the injury, was set to start, but when the lineup for the first game was released, Raudy Read was pencilled in with righty Joe Ross on the mound, and the Nats’ second-year skipper said Yan Gomes would get the start in the nightcap.
“I had a long conversation with Suzuki and Paul [Lessard] last night,” Martinez said, “... after the game, and [Suzuki is] about 70-75% right now, and he’s progressing, so I’d rather not push the envelope right now and just get him ready. Hopefully by Friday or Saturday he’ll be ready to catch.”
“The good news,” the manager added, “is that he’s available to pinch hit, and it doesn’t bother him to swing the bat, which is nice, and he is feeling better throwing-wise. He changed a little bit of his mechanics, working with Henry [Blanco], so we wanted him to continue to keep working on it. He’s doing everything else. He’s catching bullpens, he’s [simulating] throwing to second base, everything, so he’s progressing fine.
“And with the conversation I had with him and Paul last night, we felt the best thing is to let him continue to do that and see if we can get him to Friday or Saturday. If we take a chance and he does get hurt again, he’s pretty much done for the year.”
That being said, Martinez added, they’re being cautious at this point, and, “if today was the Wild Card game, it’s a good chance Suzuki’s catching. But, because we have a little time, I’d rather get him as close as possible to 100% as I can.”