Detwiler seeing back specialist, Mattheus to be activated Friday

I saw Ross Detwiler in the player parking lot as I was driving up to Nationals Park this afternoon. Detwiler won’t be around the park too long before hopping on a plane for the West Coast.

Manager Davey Johnson said Detwiler is heading out to Los Angeles today to meet with Dr. Robert Watkins to get another opinion on the lower back strain that landed Detwiler on the DL back on July 7 (retroactive to July 4) and has bothered him since.

Detwiler threw a bullpen session Saturday, but was limited to 20-25 pitches because of the discomfort in his back. Pitching coach Steve McCatty wasn’t too pleased with what he saw from Detwiler, and the left-hander has been shut down since that throwing session.

“They’ve done a lot of tests,” Johnson said. “I think they want to get another opinion because they’re not sure why it keeps reoccurring. ... It’s a problem.”

Detwiler has made just five starts since May 15, with an oblique injury and now the lower back strain each leading to DL stints. The Nats had expected Detwiler to be healthy and ready to go coming out of the All-Star break, but this injury is clearly lingering, leaving the Nats feeling like they could still be without Detwiler for a while longer.

“That’s what we’re looking at,” Johnson said.

This injury further complicates issues at the back of the Nationals rotation, an area that was already a concern even going into the break.

Dan Haren allowed five runs and two more homers over five innings last night and now has a 5.79 ERA on the season. Taylor Jordan, tonight’s Nats starter, has pitched well in his four starts since getting called up, but he’s under an innings limit this season in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, and will be shut down at some point.

That leaves the Nationals looking for ways to fill out their rotation. Ross Ohlendorf has been very effective in his opportunities, posting a 2.03 ERA in eight games (one start), and he’s scheduled to start one of the games of Friday’s doubleheader. Asked if he would consider Ohlendorf as an option to receive more starts after Friday, Johnson responded in the affirmative.

“Yes, I would,” Johnson said.

On Friday, the Nationals will be able to take advantage of a relatively new rule that allows teams to expand their rosters to 26 on the day of a doubleheader, and they plan to activate reliever Ryan Mattheus from the DL to take that spot.

Mattheus has gotten bumped up to Triple-A Syracuse in his rehab assignment, and will work two innings for the Chiefs tonight. Assuming all goes well, Mattheus will rest for two days and then officially rejoin the Nats on Friday.

Mattheus has missed the last 55 games while on the DL with a broken right hand, suffered when he punched a locker in San Diego on May 19. The Nats will need to make a roster move after Friday’s doubleheader to get their roster back down to 25, but Johnson wasn’t willing to tip his hand on that topic just yet.

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