SAN DIEGO - Just when the Nationals appeared to have to solved their bullpen woes, one of their recently acquired arms has gone down with an injury.
Ryan Madson was placed on the 10-day disabled list today with a sprained right index finger, an injury that is not believed to be serious but will nonetheless sideline the club’s new setup man for the time being.
Shawn Kelley, who already had been close to returning from a long rehab assignment, was activated off the DL and is available out of the bullpen for tonight’s game against the Padres.
Madson had not pitched since Saturday night, when he tossed a scoreless eighth inning against the Giants, the ninth time he posted a zero in as many appearances since his mid-July acquisition from the Athletics. He began to warm up Sunday night in anticipation of pitching the eighth but had to cut his throwing off after feeling something in his index finger. Brandon Kintzler wound up taking over.
Dusty Baker initially said he believed Madson had a blister, but after the veteran reliever was unavailable again Tuesday, the manager acknowledged there was a different issue. After Wednesday’s game, the club decided not to wait any longer and put Madson on the 10-day DL.
“It just popped up the other day,” Baker said. “We called down to the bullpen, cause he was going to be in that game that Kintzler came in to be setup man. These things happen. It just popped up. We don’t know how. He doesn’t know how or why or when or anything.”
The transaction was backdated to Monday, so Madson will be eligible to return one week from today. The Nationals believe he could be ready then.
“It turned out to be a little more than a blister,” Baker said. “He has soreness in his index finger in his throwing hand. So we thought it would be best, since we can (backdate) the DL for three days. Hopefully, he’ll be better in a week. We hate to see them keep going down, but it’s better now than later.”
Kelley had been out since June 17 with a right trapezius strain, the second injury that sent him to the DL during what has been a difficult season for the veteran reliever. He wound up making eight rehab appearances for Triple-A Syracuse, compiling an 8.10 ERA but allowing only one run over his final five games.
The Nationals’ primary setup man in 2016, Kelley struggled mightily when healthy earlier this season, with a 7.00 ERA and nine homers surrendered in only 18 innings. He said he physically feels much better know and believes the work he got during an extended rehab stint has prepared him to jump back into the big league mix.
“Almost like a spring training again, because it had been so long,” he said. “So it was good, especially early to know that I didn’t need to do much those first couple outings. That I could actually go out there and work on some things and make sure I felt good. And I started to ramp it up there towards the end.”
More injury updates ...
* All signs continue to point to Stephen Strasburg returning from the DL to start Saturday’s game against the Padres, though the club isn’t officially announcing it yet. Strasburg, out since July 24 with a nerve impingement in his right elbow, has been going through his typical between-starts routine since throwing five innings for Single-A Potomac on Monday. Asked today if the right-hander was good to go for Saturday, Baker replied: “Right now, he is. I’ll let you know Saturday.”
* Bryce Harper made the trip with the club and was in the clubhouse this afternoon, still walking with a slight limp but hardly incapacitated following his scary knee injury Saturday night. Harper, who avoided ligament or tendon damage but was diagnosed with a significant bone bruise, felt well enough to travel and is able to work with the club’s trainers on-site during the road trip. He’s also a valuable resource for his teammates. “He’s not cleared to do much, but he’s part of this team,” Baker said. “And I believe, especially with guys that don’t feel sorry for themselves that can contribute to helping guys, he’s still part of the team. ... So he’s helped already, just having him around. He’s part of the team. It’s like one of your brothers is down. When one of your brothers goes down, you don’t just discard him until he gets well. He’s still your brother, and he’s still a big part of this team.”
* Enny Romero began a rehab assignment for Syracuse tonight, retiring the side in the top of the sixth on 14 pitches, striking out one. The left-hander has been on the 10-day DL since Aug. 3 with forearm tightness.
* Koda Glover is progressing while rehabbing at the club’s spring training complex in West Palm Beach. The right-hander, out since June 11 with what he later revealed to be damage to his rotator cuff, tweeted late Wednesday: “Great report from the doc! Gonna ramp up to get BACK!!” Baker said he hadn’t heard anything new in the last 24 hours but said he talked to Glover last week and learned he was throwing up to 100 feet on flat ground and was “feeling a lot better.”