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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Cade Cavalli landing on IL; plan for Josiah Gray; MacKenzie Gore

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Tuesday afternoon...

Bad News Nats:

Davey Martinez broke some unfortunate news before last night’s series opener with Oakland in the nation’s capital, explaining how Cade Cavalli felt tightness in his right shoulder in his post-MLB debut throwing session, then went for an MRI on the shoulder which revealed, “... a little bit of inflammation around the capsule.”

“But the labrum, tendons, the rotator cuff, everything’s very, very clean,” Martinez stressed.

“So we’re gonna be very, very cautious. We talked to Cade. Cade says he feels good today.”

Martinez was also pleased with the reaction he got from Cavalli in spite of the bad news.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“Once we told him what it was, he says, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get after it.’ That was his response. ‘I’m going to get ready, take this time to do some things that I want to do,’ as far as, like, he wants to go sit in the scouting reports with the pitchers. He wants to learn all that stuff. So he’s been great.”

He can’t throw for two weeks, but Martinez said there will be plenty Cavalli can do as they wait for the inflammation to subside.

“I encouraged the veterans to talk to him about it and let him know what’s to come,” the fifth-year skipper said.

“And these guys that have been here, they’re working. Our medical staff pushes them as much as they possibly could push them, so I told Cade, you know, he’s going to do a bunch of different things that we want him to do — strengthening-wise, whether it’s core, whether it’s his legs right now, getting the fluid — the inflammation out of his shoulder, and then we’ll go from there. But he understands that he’s got to work. He’s not going to just sit around and just do nothing. I know he can’t throw for two weeks, but there’s a lot of other things that he can do to get better and he’s willing to do that.”

Young Starters - Handle With Care:

In talking about how carefully they plan to proceed with Cade Cavalli, Davey Martinez talked about their thinking with Josiah Gray, whose turn in the rotation was skipped this time in an attempt to keep him going throughout the season without going too far over his inning total from previous seasons.

“We’re at the point now where we got to be very, very careful with him as well because this is the most innings he has thrown. So we’re gonna take a really good look at what happens in his next couple of outings and go from there,” Martinez explained, before laying out their thinking in terms of year-to-year increases in innings (and pitches) thrown.

“We’ve talked about this before,” Martinez said, “and we’ve gone back — back to my Tampa days, back to Chicago when we had young pitchers, it averages out to about to like a 20% increase, jump, in innings, and that’s kind of how we’re seeing things right now.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“With that being said, all of a sudden next year we’re vying for a playoff spot, Wild Card spot, whatever it may be, then we’ve got to look at other things, that’s why we always say how depth is very important when it comes to starting pitching, right. Because if you do have to shut somebody down because his innings are getting up there, that you have somebody to cover for two weeks or a month, whatever you deem necessary, so these are the little things that we definitely are looking at moving forward, because our pitching is so young that we have to consider a lot of these different things.”

Positive Ending:

If you’re looking for good news on the pitching front, MacKenzie Gore, who went on the IL with left elbow inflammation on July 26th, when he was still with San Diego, before he was traded to the Nationals in the deal which sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the Padres, is still building towards a potential return later this season, and skipper Davey Martinez said that the left-hander took another step in his rehab process.

“He threw his bullpen today, 35 pitches, and threw the ball really well once again, so he feels good,” Martinez said.

“So for me, the thing about it is, I don’t want these guys going into the winter, especially MacKenzie, knowing that he was on the IL, right? We want to see him — whether, who knows what we’re going to do, whether it’s maybe have him throw a sim game, but just make sure that he gets out there and throws it so he feels comfortable going into the winter saying, ‘Hey look, I felt great, now I can go ahead and do my winter program and be ready for Spring Training.’

Philadelphia Phillies v. San Diego Padres Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

“We’re going to spend the next few weeks of just watching these guys and watching them progress, and see where we’re at.”

Gore, 23, told reporters after the trade, he wasn’t too concerned about the elbow issue.

“It was just some discomfort, and then … It’s minor,” he said. “So yeah, everything’s fine. Just kind of building strength back and getting everything 100% and should be fine.”

The next step for the southpaw, as he builds towards a potential debut with Nationals at some point in September/October?

[ed. note - “The season ends on October 5th, we did not at all mean those sort of ‘October’ games.”]

“MacKenzie will once again throw another bullpen, he’ll go a couple of up and downs in his bullpen, try to get him probably up to 50 pitches, and then we’ll go from there,” Martinez said.