LOS ANGELES - Though he was able to strike out Corey Seager after a mound visit from an athletic trainer Friday night, Matt Grace wasn’t able to avoid the disabled list today.
The Nationals placed Grace on the 10-day DL with a left groin strain, an injury the reliever said he had been dealing with for several days but became particularly noticeable during his seventh-inning appearance Friday at Dodger Stadium.
Not wanting to risk a more serious injury, and not wanting to be left with a short bullpen, the Nats decided to make the move now with Grace and recall Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. The right-hander, who had just been optioned on Monday, made the flight back west today and is in uniform and available to pitch tonight if needed.
Grace entered for the bottom of the seventh Friday night, tasked with protecting a 4-1 lead. He immediately got into trouble, allowing an infield single to Austin Barnes and then walking Chris Taylor. And after throwing a 2-1 pitch to Seager, he looked toward the dugout, with manager Davey Martinez and director of athletic training Paul Lessard walking to the mound to check on him.
After a long conversation, Grace was allowed to remain in the game, and he proceeded to strike out Seager on a 3-2 slider. But Martinez then returned to the mound and signaled for Sammy Solís out of the bullpen.
“He said he felt fine,” Martinez said. “It’s happened before, and he said he could work through it. But I was watching him, and he was really laboring. And I don’t want him to get hurt for a long period of time. So I decided he got that big out for us, let’s go ahead and do this.”
Grace has appeared in 10 of the Nationals’ first 20 games, but after allowing a run in only one of his first seven appearances he has been scored upon in each of his last three outings, retiring only seven of 14 batters.
“It was a gradual thing,” he said of the groin issue. “It had been going on for a little bit, but it was something I thought I could manage. It was just more nagging previously. I thought it was something I could throw through. But last night it was particularly more of an issue.”
Grace said he believes by going on the DL now, he won’t need to miss significant time.
“It’s not a huge deal,” he said. “It’s a small thing that could lead to some other things, too. And we’re trying to win games here.”
Anthony Rendon, meanwhile, could be available off the bench tonight after having made it through Friday’s pregame drills with only minor soreness in his left big toe. Rendon, who fouled a ball off the toe eight days ago, is not in the Nationals lineup for the seventh straight game.
Adam Eaton participated in pregame drills tonight and appears to be getting close to coming off the DL. The leadoff-hitting outfielder was eligible to return from a bone bruise in his left ankle on Wednesday.
“We should have Anthony to pinch-hit today, which is great,” Martinez said. “And we’ll know a little bit more with Adam after he goes out to the field today.”