After the fifth of Sean Doolittle’s six scoreless appearances out of the bullpen thus far in his return to the Washington Nationals, Davey Martinez talked about the success the southpaw has had early in his second run with the organization, after he was acquired from the A’s in 2017, then left via free agency in 2020-21, before returning to the club he helped win it all in 2019 this past spring.
“He’s been good,” Martinez told reporters after Doolittle recorded three outs on six pitches in PNC Park. The fifth-year manager then knocked on what was presumably a wooden table and, just in case, his head, as he hoped for continued good luck for the left-handed reliever.
“Let’s keep him right there, but the thing is he’s healthy, he’s in shape, he worked on a few things in Spring Training with his mechanics, and he’s throwing the ball really well.”
Doolittle worked around a hit in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the nation’s capital, retiring two batters on nine pitches, but the 35-year-old veteran apparently tweaked something in the appearance, and this afternoon the club placed the 11-year veteran on the 10-Day IL with what the team described as a left elbow sprain.
Sean Doolittle says his elbow felt a little sore in Pittsburgh, but nothing alarming. Was much worse yesterday, and velocity was down a couple mph. Got an MRI and got results last night. For now, the plan is rehab and reevaluate in 10 days or so. That will determine next step.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) April 20, 2022
The Nationals also optioned outfielder Donovan Casey back to Triple-A after he was called up but never got in a game for what would have been his MLB debut.
To take the place of the lone lefty in the Nationals’ relief corp, the team called up Sam Clay and Francisco Pérez from Triple-A (after Pérez was the 29th man for the doubleheader with the D-backs yesterday.
Clay, a 28-year-old reliever, signed a big league deal in D.C. in 2020-21, after he was in the minors in the Minnesota Twins’ system for six-plus years, after they drafted him in the 6th round in 2014, without ever making it to the majors.
In his first taste of MLB action, Clay put up a 5.60 ERA, a 4.61 FIP, 22 walks, and 34 Ks in a total of 58 appearances and 45 innings pitched, over which he had a .296/.383/.409 line against.
Early this season with the Nats’ top minor league affiliate, Clay has 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings on the mound, with a 2.99 FIP, three walks, and six Ks in five games.
Pérez, 24, made his major league debut with Cleveland last season, and was selected off of waivers by Washington this past November.
In five appearances at Triple-A, he’s yet to allow a run in five appearances and 5 IP, with one save, one walk, and seven Ks so far this season.