Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on the first day of Spring Training last Sunday that Carter Kieboom was a young, promising prospect in the organization, but the 2016 1st Round pick, who’s struggled given previous opportunities, would have to earn his spot on the 2022 roster.
Kieboom’s “talent should be good enough to win a spot,” Rizzo said, but, he added, “there’s going to be a competition at every spot,” and, “we’re going to bring the best 26 [players] or so, whatever we’re allowed to bring north, and try to win baseball games, but my expectation is [he’ll be] part of our best 26.”
Manager Davey Martinez told reporters earlier this week that Kieboom and veteran infielder Maikel Franco, who signed a minor league deal with the club this winter, would, “...compete every day for that [third base] job,” while adding that he liked what he’d seen from Kieboom early this spring.
“Carter looks great. He really does. He did some things. He tweaked some things on his swing. So I’m looking forward to watching him compete in a game.”
“I want him to see him go out and compete and see how he reacts and see how he does,” the skipper added, and Martinez penciled Kieboom into the lineup for the first game this season in Grapefruit League action, but an hour before first pitch, the hot corner infielder was scratched from the lineup on Friday night.
The manager explained after the game that it was an issue with Kieboom’s right (throwing) elbow.
Kieboom didn’t feel right throwing in drills beforehand, so the skipper’s decision was to take a cautious approach.
“We took him out right away,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman on Friday night. “I’m not going to take any chances.”
Though they were waiting on an MRI to see what was going on, Martinez did say that it was a clear cause for concern.
“Yeah, it worries me a little bit,” he said. “We’ll see. He’s going to get an MRI tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll get the results back sometime tomorrow afternoon.”
As of his pregame meeting with reporters on Saturday in West Palm Beach, FL, the club didn’t have the results of the MRI, but the skipper said he would likely have more information after a game against the New York Mets in the Nationals’ spring home.
Kieboom’s spring was put on pause until they knew more about what was going on with his elbow.
“Just had to tell him they don’t want him doing anything until we have an idea what’s going on and what he’s got,” Martinez said, again, as quoted by MASN’s Zuckerman.
Following the game, the manager said the news was not good.
Kieboom was diagnosed with a flexor mass strain in his right arm.
“I feel bad for him,” Martinez said, as quoted on MASN. “And, honestly, I feel bad for us.
“Because we’re counting on him to be our third baseman. And now, not saying that’s he’s not, but it’s just going to take some time.”
More tests will be taken going forward to monitor the elbow ligament. It’s another setback for Kieboom, who’s struggled at the major league level since first being called up back in 2019.
“They’re going to continue to test him to make sure there’s no ligament involvement,” Martinez said.
“But a couple doctors saw it, and they said he’s just going to need rehab. There’s no timetable. As of right now, he’s going to come in tomorrow, wait til the swelling goes down a little bit and then re-test him and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Carter Kieboom said he expects to need 4-6 weeks in the best-case scenario. Said he’s kind of in shock. Can tell how much prep he did ahead of this year, got here early, wasn’t having any issues. Then gets whacked with this. Frustration was palpable.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 20, 2022