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Washington Nationals’ Kurt Suzuki injures elbow on throw in Atlanta; Nats call up Tres Barrera

Kurt Suzuki hurt his elbow on a throw to second base in last night’s loss, and though it looks like he’ll avoid an IL stint, the Nationals called up backstop Tres Barrera this morning.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Before Raudy Read came on as a late-game replacement for Kurt Suzuki last night, the 2019 Washington Nationals had used just two catchers all season, with Suzuki and Yan Gomes in the gear behind the plate for each of the 140-plus games they’d played to that point.

Suzuki took over for Gomes in the bottom of the seventh, after Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez hit for Gomes with a runner on third and two out in a 5-2 game in the top of the inning.

After an awkward sidearm-ish throw to second on a stolen base attempt by Rafael Ortega, Suzuki was noticeably uncomfortable behind the dish, however, to the point that Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman, waiting on deck at that point, motioned towards the Nats’ dugout to come out and check on their catcher.

They did, but after some discussion, Suzuki stayed on to finish out the inning, but between the end of the seventh and top of the eighth, manager Davey Martinez talked to Suzuki and decided he was done for the night, hitting for him when his spot in the order came up first in the top of the eighth.

“He threw the ball to second, and he felt a sharp pain,” Martinez explained after the 5-4 loss in Atlanta, “so I didn’t want to chance it. He wanted to hit, but I didn’t want to do that.”

As of the time he spoke to reporters in his post game presser, however, the second-year skipper didn’t have any update on what exactly happened to Suzuki’s elbow.

“He’s going to get evaluated by the doctor,” Martinez said, “... it’s his right elbow, so we’ll know more — I don’t know anything right now, they left to go see a doctor.”

Early this morning, MLB Network analyst Jon Heyman reported that the Nationals called up catcher Tres Barrera, a 24-year-old, 2016 sixth round pick, out of the University of Texas at Austin, who posted a .249/.323/.381 line with 23 doubles and eighth homers in 101 games and 403 plate appearances at Double-A Harrisburg this season, with a .991 fld% and 29% caught stealing percentage on the season (30 CS in 104 attempts).

Suzuki, 35, signed a 2-year/$10M free agent deal with the Nationals this winter, has put up a .260/.319/.473 line with 10 doubles and 16 home runs in 81 games and 301 PAs this season, over which he’s been worth 0.3 fWAR.

MASN’s Byron Kerr confirmed Heyman’s report on Barrera shortly after it went up on Twitter, while noting that Suzuki would not go on the IL, and the Nationals announced this morning that they had selected the contract of catcher Tres Barrera from Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday, and recalled catcher Spencer Kieboom from Double-A Harrisburg and placed him on the 60-day Injured List with right elbow inflammation to open up a spot on the 40-Man roster.

No word on Suzuki in the press release on today’s moves, but we’ll update with any info when Martinez talks to reporters...