No two players recover from the same injury in the same amount of time. Sometimes, one player doesn’t recover from the same injury suffered twice in the same amount of time.
At the moment, though, it’s taking a few members of the Nationals organization longer to return from the injured list as anyone probably hoped when the season began.
Atop that list is Corey Dickerson, the veteran outfielder who strained his left calf April 1 and doesn’t appear close to coming back.
Dickerson, signed over the winter for $2.25 million to be the Nationals’ starting left fielder, hurt himself in the second game of the season and hasn’t made it back yet. Though he has been able to hit and playing with no issues, he has not been cleared to run yet.
“This is recurring for him: He did it last year,” manager Davey Martinez said. “This is the same spot. So we want to make sure it’s completely gone.”
Indeed, there is some pertinent history with Dickerson: He suffered the same calf injury last summer while playing for the Cardinals but was back on the active roster after one month. That won’t be the case this time.
The Nationals don’t appear eager to force the issue this time.
“I learned my lesson. Remember Alex Avila? He had the calf, and it took him a couple months before he could get back,” Martinez said, referencing the veteran catcher who hurt himself playing second base in an emergency in 2021. “The calves are tricky. I’ve been getting updates on him from our medical staff every other day, and it’s a tricky injury. One jump, one wrong turn and … you know. They want to make sure when he comes back, it’s gone. It’s fully healthy, and he won’t have any more issues with it.”
There is a valid question about Dickerson’s role whenever he does return. He may not be assured of everyday playing time in left field, given how Alex Call has performed in his place. Call entered Monday’s game with a .363 on-base percentage and has taken over leadoff duties most days.
Carter Kieboom has been waiting much longer than Dickerson to return from injury, but he’s finally ready to start playing in games again. The third baseman, who had Tommy John surgery almost one year ago, is scheduled to begin a long-awaited rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on Wednesday.
It’s been a long path back for Kieboom, who first injured his elbow in March 2022 and tried rest and rehab, but ultimately needed to have the ligament replaced via Tommy John surgery. He was hopeful of being ready for Opening Day this year, but he had to be shut down in spring training when his shoulder began acting up and has been slowly ramping back up since.
Kieboom finally seems to be able to withstand the daily rigors of game play. He’s due to play all nine innings at third base today at extended spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla., then depart for Harrisburg to begin his rehab assignment.
The organization’s first-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Kieboom probably won’t be put back on the major league roster as soon as he’s deemed healthy. With Jeimer Candelario now playing third base every day, the Nationals are likely to have Kieboom continue to get at-bats in the minors, hoping to rediscover the swing that made him a top prospect years ago.