The Nationals received good news on two of their top pitching prospects this afternoon that involved both of them throwing a baseball in different ways.
After having been shut down for two weeks with right shoulder inflammation, Cade Cavalli was cleared to pick up a ball and resume throwing by team doctors and the medical staff.
His follow-up exam yesterday revealed that he was healthy enough to play a game of catch today at Nationals Park.
“Very good. He's actually playing catch as we speak,” manager Davey Martinez said of Cavalli’s follow-up exam and resumption of throwing. “It went really well. Inflammation’s gone. He said he feels great. Doctor evaluated him. Our medical staff put him through the gamut yesterday and today, so he's out there playing catch. So we'll see how he feels. This is great news for us. But with that being said, we still got quite a bit of ways (to go). But it's nice to see him out there throwing again.”
Cavalli was shut down after reporting unusual soreness in his right shoulder after his Aug. 26 major league debut. It was alarming news for the Nats after their top pitching prospect had finally earned the opportunity to debut in the bigs. At the time, the belief was that Cavalli would be done for the year out of extreme precaution and with only a month left in the season.
Today’s news means that the young right-hander can begin to ramp up his throwing program again with the goal of getting him back on the mound before beginning his offseason work, even though that likely won’t come in an actual game.
“We're going to try to, if everything goes well, try to get him on the mound,” Martinez said. “Whether that's a bullpen or if he feels really good, maybe a little sim game or something like that. But I definitely want to see him, if we can, throw some maybe one up-down, two up-downs on the mound and then send him home.
“I don't think he's going to be able to go out there and compete, because we want to make sure that when he leaves here, he's healthy, and we put him on a program this winter and get him ready for spring training. So I haven't talked to him yet about that. I want him to keep building. I'm sure that once he gets going, he's probably gonna say that he would like to go out there. But we got to be really smart. We got to be really smart with these guys. So we'll see how he progresses over the next week or two, and we'll go from there.”
Even if Cavalli doesn’t make it back to pitch in a major league game, MacKenzie Gore is still on track to make his Nationals debut before season’s end.
Gore tossed a bullpen session today after making his first rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Rochester, throwing 36 pitches over 1 2/3 innings. If everything goes well while continuing his rehab from left elbow inflammation, the left-hander is scheduled to make a second rehab start Friday with Rochester.
“MacKenzie threw his bullpen today,” Martinez said. “I haven't heard how he feels. But assuming that he feels good, he'll go out Friday and pitch in Rochester.”
Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz is out of the lineup for tonight’s two-game finale against the Orioles. The 42-year-old designated hitter was removed from last night’s game in the fifth inning with a left eye issue that also affected him over the weekend in Philadelphia.
Doctors diagnosed Cruz with eye inflammation and gave him drops to hopefully clear it up in time for this weekend’s series against the Marlins.
“He's got inflammation in his eye,” Martinez said of Cruz. “They gave him some drops, so hopefully it'll help him over the next 24-48 hours. It's a weird thing. I mean, he went and saw an eye specialist, and it's just inflammation. So we'll see how he feels after he takes these drops, but he's gonna be day-to-day.”
Luke Voit is the DH and Joey Meneses is playing first base with Cruz out of the lineup tonight as the Battle of the Beltways concludes.