WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Nationals have been anxiously awaiting the results of Derek Hill’s MRI on his right hamstring. The 27-year-old outfielder had to depart Wednesday’s game against the Yankees in Tampa after pulling up while running to first base trying to beat out a grounder to third.
Hill wasn’t able to get his MRI until Thursday night and the Nationals had to wait all day Friday for a doctor to read it, which caused the delay in the results. And the news wasn’t good: Somewhere between a Grade 1 and Grade 2 right hamstring strain that will set him back for an undetermined amount of time.
“He's got a, I'd say, between a (Grade) 1 and 2, so let's call it 1.5 strain with his right hamstring,” manager Davey Martinez said this morning. “There's really no timetable. Actually, I can say he's been kind of doing limited stuff, but they're working on it. So hopefully, he'll be back sooner than later.”
Hill has been competing for the fourth outfielder’s spot with Alex Call and Stone Garrett, and his chances of making the club have now taken a serious hit. As unfortunate as that is for him, the Nationals are going to be cautious before allowing him to return to the field.
"We want to make sure that he's healthy," Martinez said. "And I will talk to him today and reiterate that: 'Look, I love what I saw so far. I really did. So let's get you healthy. I don't know how long it's gonna take, but let's get you healthy. And we'll get you back out as soon as you can.'"
Despite the diagnosis and lack of a timetable, the Nationals are remaining optimistic Hill can return before the end of spring training.
“It's actually best-case scenario because it was the belly of the muscle,” Martinez said. “It wasn't low, where it's about your knee, which obviously takes a lot longer, or up in your glute area, which takes a long time. So we're very optimistic that he could come back here, hopefully, soon. But like you said, time will tell how he heals.”
The Nats actually had some good news today in that there was no health news to report on Carl Edwards Jr. After the right-hander was charged with four runs on three hits and two walks while only recording one out in the fifth inning of yesterday’s game against the Mets, Martinez expressed some postgame concern because Edwards’ velocity was down.
But a conversation with the reliever after arriving back from Port St. Lucie revealed the reliever feels fine physically.
“We talked to him last night and our trainer talked to him last night,” Martinez said. “He said he's fine. He said nothing's wrong. Just takes him a little while to get going in spring training. And I do remember last year when he was here, he came early to that early camp. So before we got into any games, he was already throwing quite a bit. But we're gonna keep a close eye on him to make sure that he's building up and getting ready for the season. He really reiterated yesterday he was fine.”
Edwards’ fastball was averaging 92 mph yesterday and only topped out at 94. It averaged 94 mph last year. His curveball averaged 77 mph yesterday, but averaged 80 mph last year. And his changeup averaged 87 mph yesterday while averaging 90 mph last year, but Martinez says that Edwards is actually working on slowing down his changeup.
“I think he's trying to be a little bit quicker with his delivery,” the skipper said. “And I told him, 'You don't have to be any quicker, you're quick enough.' And he's trying to take a little bit more off his changeup. So I don't know if that has anything to do with it. But I told him, I said, 'Hey, what you did last year worked great. So why are you gonna mess with that? Just go out there and attack the strike zone.'
“The biggest thing with him was that he threw strikes and he was ahead of hitters. When he's ahead of hitters, he's really good. When he falls behind hitters, it's when he gets himself in trouble. But we'll see. Hopefully, his next outing will be a little bit better. But I definitely want to keep an eye on him.”
* Aníbal Sánchez is visiting Nationals camp today, and before anyone gets too worked up about it, he is not here to sign with the team.
Sánchez, of course a member of the 2019 World Series champion team known for his “butterfly” changeup, was seen catching up with Martinez and former teammate Matt Adams outside the Nats clubhouse this morning.
With a smile on his face, as always, Sánchez was sharply dressed in all white, looking more like he was going to soak in a day of baseball here in West Palm instead of preparing to play some.