Rehabbing Arms Updates:
Though the big story out of Sunday’s pregame Zoom call with manager Davey Martinez was the news on Stephen Strasburg being placed on the 10-Day IL with inflammation in his right shoulder, there were plenty of other updates on some of the other injured arms working out as they try to get back into action.
“Will [Harris] just threw a bullpen, I wanted to watch him,” Martinez said as he started up the call with reporters. “He threw about 26 pitches, he looked okay, so I was talking to trainers about the next step, so he’ll have a day off and pitch again, throw another bullpen the next day and go from there.”
Harris, who was thought to have a blood clot in his arm, though further testing showed he did not, has been working hard to get built back up over the past few weeks after he’d shut it down in spring while they sorted things out and ran tests.
Jon Lester, the veteran left-hander, had surgery to remove one of four parathyroid glands in Spring Training, and ended up on the COVID-IL at the start of the season, and he’s been building back up for the start of what will be his 16th big league season and his first in D.C. after the 37-year-old signed a 1-year/$5M free agent deal with the club this winter.
“He’s going to throw on Tuesday again,” Martinez said. “He’s going to hopefully get up to five innings, 80, 85 pitches.”
Patrick Corbin, while not injured, has struggled mightily in his first two outings this season, giving up 12 hits (four HRs), seven walks, and 16 runs, 15 earned, in just 6 1⁄3 IP.
He threw a between-starts bullpen the other day and Martinez said he liked what he saw from the southpaw.
“Corbin threw a bullpen the other day and he threw the ball really well,” Martinez reported.
“Hopefully he can carry that over into the game, but I liked what I saw out of his bullpen the other day, he was throwing — we focused on slowing him down a little bit and just pounding the strike zone. He did that. His slider was sharp. So hopefully he takes that into his next start.”
Wander If All Those Appearances Early Were A Bad Idea?:
Wander Suero was eleven pitches into his eighth outing in the Nationals’ first twelve games on Saturday night when he felt something in his side that both his catcher Yan Gomes and the club’s training staff and manager noticed.
After a brief visit on the mound, the reliever’s night ended when he was pulled, and Sunday morning, after an MRI, he ended up on the 10-Day IL with what was diagnosed as a strain of his left oblique.
“It’s an oblique strain,” Martinez confirmed. “I talked to Wander today. He said he doesn’t feel that bad.
“Typically when you can’t breathe it’s a severe strain, he said he’s feeling fine, with no pain, so hopefully with a stint on the IL, and building him back up, we’ll get him back as soon as possible.
“It’s weird how these obliques are, you just never know, so we’ve got to make sure that he’s completely healthy.”
Early Test of Pitching Depth:
Paolo Espino got the call to start in place of Stephen Strasburg on Sunday, and Ryne Harper got called up to join the bullpen with Suero out, and Martinez said that in spite of the issues they’ve dealt with in their pitching corps early, he’s confident that the depth in the system is sufficient to handle all the problems they’re currently dealing with.
“Hopefully we get Lester back soon,” he said. “We liked Espino in Spring Training, we really did, he had some really good outings for us. So we’re confident in his ability to get outs for us here today.
“But we definitely feel like we have depth down there that can help us out.
“This Spring Training was tough, we had a lot of guys — if I could keep 35 guys there would be a lot of guys on this team, a lot of guys happy, but we could only keep 26.
“Espino was one of those guys, where he pitched well, I liked him even last year when he came up and now he’s going to get an opportunity to start here for us and hopefully keep us in the ballgame.”
Others, like Rogelio Armenteros, Steven Fuentes, and Seth Romero, who are currently over in Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the club’s Alternate Site, were considered as potential fill-ins, but had thrown recently and were therefore unavailable.
“We looked at all those guys,” Martinez acknowledged.
“The unfortunate thing is some of those guys had just thrown in a sim game or in a game, but like I said, I do like Espino, it was his turn to throw, he was on that rotation, so he goes out there and competes.”
Veteran experience, he said, was also a consideration when they were deciding who to bring up.
“It definitely helps when we know guys have experience, have done it before,” Martinez said.
“Especially in a pinch like this. He’s one guy that I love having him around, and he’s done well, he pitched well in Spring Training, he’s done well in the past.
“So he’s going to get an opportunity today. That doesn’t mean — as you all know, [GM] Mike [Rizzo] and myself, if we think a young pitcher is ready he may get called upon. So those guys are getting built up and getting ready so we’re keeping close eyes on those guys as well.”