The Nationals returned from a five-game road trip and made a quick roster move before beginning a seven-game homestand tonight against the Pirates.
They recalled left-hander Sam Clay from Triple-A Rochester and optioned fellow southpaw Francisco Perez to Rochester, bringing in a fresh lefty arm for the bullpen. Perez’s demotion comes after he allowed three runs without recording an out in the ninth inning of yesterday’s finale against the Rangers, forcing manager Davey Martinez to call upon Tanner Rainey to close out the 6-4 win.
“Look, this game, as you know, we have to make tough decisions,” Martinez said of the move during his pregame session with the media. “But (Perez) had an outing yesterday, faced a couple of batters and got hit hard. So we just want him to go down and continue to get some work in. We brought Sam up, give him an opportunity. As you know, we're short on lefties in the bullpen. And we're always searching, we're always looking. So Sam has been pitching well down there. So we're gonna give him an opportunity to pitch up here. But that's not to say that we won't see Francisco again. He's gonna go down there and just continue to work.”
Clay went 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA, 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 21 relief appearances for Rochester. He tossed scoreless outings of relief in 17 of the 21 appearances with the Red Wings. The 29-year-old has given up five runs in four innings over five appearances with the Nats this season.
Perez, 24, posted a 7.27 ERA across 10 relief appearances for the Nats.
Back at Rochester, Aníbal Sánchez and Josh Rogers are getting ready to make rehab starts at the highest level of the minor leagues. The 38-year-old right-hander will start tomorrow for the Red Wings, while the 27-year-old left-hander will make his start later in the week. Both are scheduled to go around four innings and throw about 60 pitches.
“We got some other guys that are actually doing well,” Martinez said of his rehabbing pitchers. “Aníbal is going to pitch tomorrow in Rochester. Rogers is going to pitch in a couple of days in Rochester. So these guys are starting to come along. So that's kind of nice that we'll have some of these guys back here fairly soon.”
Both arms are going to be stretched out as starters and the Nationals will figure out where they fit on the roster once they are ready to join the major league club.
“We're going to stretch both of these guys out. We'll see what transpires from there,” Martinez said. “But as we all know, Aníbal, when he's good, he's a starting pitcher. But we got guys that are doing well now. And we're seeing some of our younger guys pitch well, so we'll have to see how things work out.”
Sánchez has been on the 60-day injured list with a cervical nerve impingement since April 11 (retroactive to April 8) and Rogers has been on the 15-day IL with a left shoulder impingement since June 3.
* Victor Arano threw a “light bullpen” session today while recovering from left knee inflammation. The 27-year-old right-hander has been on the 15-day IL since June 6 after taking a nasty fall while trying to field a ball the previous day in a getaway day win in Cincinnati.
“Yeah, he threw a light bullpen, which is nice,” Martinez said. “So he threw, I think, like, 18-19 pitches, but he's doing a lot better. So that's a great sign.”
Arano has a 5.01 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, one save and four holds in 23 ⅓ innings over 24 appearances for the Nats this season.
* Stephen Strasburg was in the Nationals clubhouse this afternoon, the first time we’ve seen him since he was placed on the 15-day IL with a stress reaction in his ribs on June 14 (retroactive to June 11). But his manager had no updates on his recovery or timeline for his return.
“No updates yet on Stephen,” Martinez said. “I saw him walk by, I didn't get a chance to talk to him, so I'll talk to him. But we haven't heard anything yet from the doctors.”
The Nationals are waiting to hear back from the doctors Strasburg has seen before putting a plan in place for his rehab. They’re also letting the 33-year-old take his time while working his way back.
“We want to know what's going on,” Martinez said. “And like I said, he's gonna have to go through some time where he needs to heal before we're gonna get him back on the mound. So 'til we know a definitive of what's absolutely going on, we're gonna let him take his time. Like I said, he's been through a lot. He worked really hard to get back. He pitched again in the big leagues and all of a sudden he got hurt again. So we want to make sure we know what's going on before we push him back.”