Davey Johnson is feeling much more spry today than he did Sunday, when he spent the final two innings of the Nationals’ win over the Phillies on a training table with back pain.
Johnson got a couple of shots in his back yesterday to numb the affected area and then an injection of cortisone, and that seems to have done the trick. The 70-year-old skipper was all smiles and even said he might be closing in on throwing batting practice sometime soon, a goal of his from earlier in the season.
While Johnson’s health has improved, Bryce Harper seems to be dealing with a bout of the flu, which has knocked him out of the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Giants.
“He hasn’t been able to eat,” Johnson said. “Said he slept all day yesterday and hasn’t been able to eat much. That was the report I got from (head athletic trainer) Lee Kuntz.”
Harper did take batting practice with the Nationals a bit ago, so it’s possible he’ll try and talk his way back into the lineup.
Tonight’s Giants starter, left-hander Madison Bumgarner, dominates most left-handed hitters, but Harper has actually gone 3-for-9 with a homer off Bumgarner. Johnson had originally intended to have Harper in the lineup, but with Harper feeling ill, Johnson went with the right-handed-hitting Scott Hairston.
Hairston, who has had good success in his career against lefties, is 0-for-11 in his career against Bumgarner.
Jayson Werth had to leave Sunday’s game after six innings due to a bruised right knee, but as the Nats expected, Werth is feeling good enough today to play.
“He looked like his cheerful old self today,” Johnson said. “He knew he was in the lineup.”
Meanwhile, Ross Ohlendorf was scheduled to throw a side session today after making a rehab start with Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday. Assuming all goes well during the mound work here at Nats Park, Ohlendorf will head out and make another rehab start later in the week, either Thursday or Friday.
The Nats intend to have Ohlendorf stick a little closer to home this time instead of having him venture all the way up to Syracuse. Double-A Harrisburg opens a series at home Friday and high Single-A Potomac is at home through Friday.
After being shut down from all workouts for the last few weeks, Ross Detwiler (herniated disc in his back) did some running in the outfield this afternoon. The Nats will monitor Detwiler carefully to see how he bounces back from this activity, and Johnson said he thinks it might be another 10 days before Detwiler can pick up a ball again.
“I think he’s still got about another week before we let him do any baseball activities,” Johnson said. “He’s doing some running. We’ll see how the back responds to that.”
The Nationals still hope that Detwiler will be able to return and make at least a start or two before the end of the regular season, regardless of whether they’re in contention for a playoff spot or not.