Just as Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth appear to be closing in on a return to action, the Nationals have to deal with two more players making their way into the training room.
Manager Davey Johnson told reporters last night that catcher Wilson Ramos reinjured his left hamstring in the Nats’ 3-1 loss to the Dodgers, and left-hander Ross Detwiler had back spasms knock him out of yesterday’s game after just three innings.
Ramos’ injury appears to be the more serious of the two, according to Johnson, but Detwiler’s status for his next start is uncertain.
Jhonatan Solano had missed some time with Triple-A Syracuse recently due to an ankle injury, but the 27-year-old catcher played yesterday for the Chiefs and appears to be the likely candidate to be called up to replace Ramos on the Nats’ 25-man roster yet again.
Solano saw action in three games (with one start) during Ramos’ previous stint on the DL this season, going 1-for-6.
Should Detwiler need to miss his next start, the Nats could slide left-handed reliever Zach Duke into his spot in the rotation. Craig Stammen is also a possibility, but Johnson has said in the past he’d prefer to leave Stammen in his current role, in which he’s incredibly valuable and effective.
If a DL stint ends up being needed for Detwiler, Chris Young could be called up to fill in, although the veteran right-hander has really struggled statistically in his five starts at Triple-A Syracuse, posting a 7.96 ERA and 1.961 WHIP.
Ross Ohlendorf is another option, although if he took Detwiler’s next scheduled start, he’d be working on an extra days’ rest. Ohlendorf has a 4.96 ERA at Syracuse.
Neither Young nor Ohlendorf are on the 40-man roster, although the Nats do have an open spot on the 40-man, should they need it.
The good news is that Harper might be able to return to the Nats’ lineup tonight after missing most of the last two games with bruises to his knee, shoulder and torso suffered in his collision with the Dodger Stadium wall on Monday. Harper did pinch-hit in the ninth inning last night, and he grounded out against Dodgers closer Brandon League.
Werth also should be able to return to action soon; he kicked off his rehab assignment at high-A Potomac last night, going 1-for-2 and playing four innings in right field. If all goes well at Potomac today and Werth’s right hamstring comes through OK, he should be able to come off the DL Saturday.
Even if Werth and Harper return, however, the Nats will still be lacking their full opening day lineup for a little while.
This offense is in a bad way right now - as evidenced by the 3-for-26 mark with runners in scoring position that they put up during the Dodgers series - and they need as many of their big bats in the lineup as possible.
Ramos smoked two balls last night, then he goes down yet again.
Unfortunately, that’s just kind of the way it’s gone for the Nats through the first quarter of the 2013 season.