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Washington Nationals’ Cade Cavalli and the long road ahead…

Cade Cavalli took a moment to feel sorry for himself then moved on to rehab mode quickly…

Nationals spring training Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“He was going to be that fifth starter,” Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez told reporters after Washington’s top pitching prospect, Cade Cavalli, suffered, “a grade three sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament which will require Tommy John surgery,” as the club announced late last week.

Cavalli, 24, and a 2020 1st Round pick by the Nats, acknowledged his obvious and understandable disappointment with the injury, which will cost him all of his 2023 season, but he said he quickly moved on to accepting reality.

“I gave myself a little bit of time to cry and to hurt,” Cavalli said, as quoted by’s Jessica Camerato. “But during that meeting with them, it was just like: It is what it is, and it’s time. It was a little flip switch, and I’m ready. I am. I’m ready to rock. I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be better, I promise.”

“It’s adversity,” Cavalli added, “and you’ve just got to love on the adversity.”

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at New York Mets Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Getting as close as he did to his goal of becoming a regular starter in the majors only to have an injury which will keep him off the mound this year was a tough blow, but the starter said he just has new challenges now.

“I think that’s the only way you can [view it],” Cavalli said.

“The way I live my life is, I try to manage everything with a neutral mindset and I want to try to make the next best choice ahead. I think that the next best choice ahead for me is get that surgery and do whatever it takes, and do whatever the doctor and our staff tell me. Whatever that plan is, I’m going to go execute it.”

Knowing what a competitor the pitcher is, GM Mike Rizzo told reporters he was confident Cavalli would attack rehab as hard as he prepared for the ‘23 season.

“I do know one thing,” Rizzo explained.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at New York Mets Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

“He’s going to rehab with the same ferocity and attitude that he pitches with. Although he was a little emotional at the beginning, and that’s normal, I think it’s safe to say this guy is going to be a rehab machine and really get after it, and really make himself better when he comes back.”

“It’s frustrating for him,” Rizzo said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “He’s a competitor. And he was on the verge of his first major league Opening Day and being a big part of what we’re doing here, and now he’s got to take a step back and rehab, and the isolation and the loneliness that that entails. The strong survive it and come out the other end better for it. I believe he’s one of that group, and I’m looking forward to watching him progress through his rehab and watching him come out the other side of it and really get after it again.”