Taylor playing catch, hitting off tee days after injury (Nats lose 7-1)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Only three days after his manager said he expected him to miss “a significant amount of time,” Michael A. Taylor was back playing catch and taking light swings this morning at the Nationals’ spring training complex, suggesting his sprained left knee and hip aren’t as seriously hurt as initially feared.

Mirroring the light workout he revealed he went through Sunday, Taylor stood on the synthetic “agility” field just outside the Nationals clubhouse this morning and played catch with a member of the training staff. He wasn’t wearing any wrap or brace on his knee, and through he wasn’t exerting full effort he didn’t appear to be hampered in any way.

Taylor also went back to the batting cages and took light swings off a tee before returning indoors.

It’s a surprising return to baseball activities only four days after Taylor appeared to seriously injure himself making a diving catch in right-center field against the Twins in Fort Myers. An MRI taken of his leg Friday revealed a sprained knee and hip, and manager Davey Martinez announced the outfielder wouldn’t be ready to open the season on the active roster and likely would be out much longer than that.

Taylor-Dugout-Fives-Flag-W-sidebar.jpg“He’s going to start treatment,” Martinez said Friday. “But I think he’s going to miss a significant amount of time.”

That prompted questions about the Nationals’ possible need to acquire more outfield depth to account for Taylor’s anticipating absence. Andrew Stevenson is the only other true outfielder on the 40-man roster, and Hunter Jones is the only other true outfielder still in big league camp.

But to date the Nats have not added one of the few remaining free agent outfielders still looking for work, a list that includes veterans Denard Span, Austin Jackson and José Bautista. Former Rockies All-Star Carlos González signed a minor league contract with the Indians over the weekend.

Taylor still has a ways to go in his rehab, so the Nationals will need to fill his spot on the opening day roster. But they may be more inclined to go with Stevenson as their fourth outfielder for the short-term and eschew the free agent market if they believe Taylor’s return will come sooner than anticipated.

Update: It was another shaky first inning for Patrick Corbin, who has had a few of these already this spring. An Anthony Rendon throwing error didn’t help, but back-to-back doubles by Brian Anderson and Peter O’Brien were more damaging and contributed to a 22-pitch opening frame for Corbin. True to nature, though, he has settled down since and retired eight of the last nine batters he’s faced. He’s at 44 total pitches through three innings. The Nats, meanwhile, got on the board in the bottom of the second with some unexpected small ball. Ryan Zimmerman legged out an infield single, then went first-to-third on Yan Gomes’ single to left-center, then scored on Stevenson’s safety squeeze. How about that?

Update II: Corbin’s afternoon didn’t end on a strong note. After mostly cruising through the second, third and fourth inning, he gave up five singles in the fifth, four of them in succession. Three more runs crossed the plate. So he’s done after allowing five runs (four earned) in five innings. He threw 84 pitches.

Update III: Justin Miller worked parts of two innings, which was a good sign for the reliever (who missed some time with a bad back earlier this spring). But he also allowed two runs on three hits, increasing the Marlins’ lead to 7-1.

Update IV: That’s a wrap. Nats lose 7-1.

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