Looking back on a wild holiday weekend

No, I’m not talking about my trip to Vegas, which was lots of fun but will not be discussed in this space.

I can tell you that I’m back on the East Coast in one piece, sunburn-free and with more money than when I left. So that’s all good news.

Not much went down Nationals-wise while I was away, unless you count an injury to the Nats’ top pinch hitter, a change in the starting rotation, a sweep of a hot division rival, another (yes, another) Nats catcher being knocked out of a game due to injury, the demotion of a talented power-hitting prospect, the promotion of a scorching-hot outfield prospect and the imminent call-up of a guy who will be the fifth catcher to wear a Nationals jersey this season.

Yeah, it doesn’t really seem like I missed anything.

The hamstring injury to catcher Jesus Flores and the groin injury to infielder Chad Tracy have forced the Nationals to shake up their roster a bit recently. They moved Tyler Moore back to Triple-A Syracuse, where he can get much more consistent at-bats and continue to gain experience in left field. And they added outfielder Corey Brown, who has been on an absolute tear lately at Syracuse, hitting 12 home runs already this season, including one in five consecutive games just prior to his promotion.

With Flores’ situation still a little uncertain, the Nats will also add catcher Jhonatan Solano today, giving them three catchers on the active roster. Flores’ injury doesn’t appear serious, the Nats say, but they can’t take any chances with just one healthy catcher and will add Solano, who has been limited to just 13 games this season at Syracuse because of a back injury.

Even the catchers with the Nats’ minor league affiliates are having to fight off the injury bug.

Maldonado Swings Tall.jpgIt’s both really interesting and really a shame that after a spring in which we talked so much about how strong the Nats were at catcher with Flores and Wilson Ramos, the only two catchers likely to be available tonight will be Solano and Carlos Maldonado.

Meanwhile, today will be a big day for Tracy, who is in Philadelphia to undergo an MRI on his injured groin. The Nats are hoping that the guy who leads the majors in pinch-hit RBIs didn’t do anything to severely aggravate the double hernia surgery he had done this winter, and that his absence from the team will be a matter of weeks, not months.

Today will also be a big day for Michael Morse, who will begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac after getting some at-bats at extended spring training over the last few days. The target date on Morse’s return to the Nats appears the same - he could be back in the lineup as soon as Friday or as late as June 8, barring any further issues with that pesky strained lat.

One final thought on what transpired this weekend - I was really impressed with Ross Detwiler’s reaction to the news he was being bumped from the Nats’ starting rotation in favor of Chien-Ming Wang. Detwiler will now return to the bullpen, where he saw time last season, while Wang takes over as the No. 5 starter, a spot he appeared destined for prior to a left hamstring injury suffered midway through spring.

Dewtiler obviously wasn’t thrilled with the Nats’ decision (what competitor would be?) but he told reporters he accepted it, knowing he hadn’t pitched well lately and Wang’s past success gives the veteran an edge.

This quote from Detwiler spoke volumes to me: “The way I look at it, I’m going from the best starting rotation in the big leagues to the best bullpen.”

That’s a mature way to handle the move, and Detwiler’s positive outlook will surely be rewarded when he returns to the rotation later this season, either to replace an injured starter or to take over for Stephen Strasburg once the ace hits his innings limit and is shut down.

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