The last mention of Carter Kieboom before Friday night, was in Davey Martinez’s pregame press conference last Friday (the 13th), and it was just the manager saying he had nothing new to report on the 24-year-old, 2016 1st Round pick, who was shut down early in Spring Training with a flexor mass strain in his right elbow.
“Nothing,” Martinez said when asked if there was any update. “Carter, still we have nothing on him yet, so we’ll see what happens.”
Kieboom put up solid numbers on the way up through the Nationals’ system, but struggled in limited exposure in a total of 106 major league games played so far, since debuting in 2019, with a .197/.304/.285 line in 414 plate appearances over the past three years, and the hope was he would turn things around this year, and claim the third base job in D.C., but he will now miss the entire season with an announcement by Martinez last night that the infielder will need Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right (throwing) elbow.
Kieboom and the club were hoping he could avoid surgery, but it didn’t work out that way.
“We tried to do it conservatively,” Martinez told reporters before the start of a three-game set in Milwaukee, “which he wanted to try first, and he felt really good. And then he started throwing and tried to really get it going, and he said the pain came back. At this point, we thought it was best, and he thought it was best, that he does have the surgery to fix it. This way, he comes back and there’s no other issues.”
Kieboom struggled at the plate in the big and minor leagues last season, with a .207/.301/.318 line in 62 games and 249 plate appearances in the majors, and a .237/.376/.385 line at Triple-A Rochester.
He put up a .303/.409/.493 line at Triple-A Fresno in 2019, before struggling (.181/.309/.232) over 44 games and 165 PAs with the Nationals in 2019-20, and now the latest setback has to be frustrating, but his manager said he needs to approach it as another challenge he needs to overcome.
“I talked to him for the few days he came to D.C. to get the MRI and I told him, ‘Hey, you’ve got to keep your head up,’” Martinez said. “‘I know this seems like the end of the world, but now it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge for you to get back and be healthy and work on some other things as well. And when you come back, you’re going to put this all behind you, and you’ll be ready to play baseball.’”
Kieboom was ramping up after the injury this spring, but as Martinez said, he felt pain in the arm again and shut it down.
“He just couldn’t — he felt better,” Martinez said, “... and then he went to throw a ball, he said he felt something, and we went to go get some more MRIs and they opted to do the surgery, which kind of stinks for him, but hopefully after the surgery we get him back rehabbing and I know it’s a long process as well, but that he has no other issues with his elbow.”