Flurry of rehab appearances for injured Nats relievers

It’s purely a coincidence of timing that so many injured Nationals relievers were ready to begin rehab assignments within days of each other. Intentional or not, the team is more than happy to monitor a bunch of these assignments, knowing each pitcher is getting close to returning to the active roster.

Mason Thompson and Carl Edwards Jr. got the process started, each tossing a scoreless inning of relief Thursday. Tanner Rainey will make his rehab debut tonight, hours after Thaddeus Ward pitched in West Palm Beach.

Thompson tossed a 1-2-3 inning for Double-A Harrisburg, striking out one and throwing seven of his nine pitches for strikes. The right-hander, out since Aug. 2 with a left knee contusion, is scheduled to return to make another appearance Sunday, ideally building up to 20-to-25 pitches.

Edwards also threw a perfect inning of relief, with six of his 12 pitches for strikes with Single-A Wilmington. The right-hander, out since June 20 with shoulder inflammation, is going to need more time on his assignment considering how long he’s been out. He’s next scheduled to pitch Saturday.

“He’s been out a little longer,” manager Davey Martinez said. “For me, it’s like spring training all over with him. I want to get him this outing tomorrow, see how that goes, and then possibly two or three more after. … But he said he felt way better yesterday.”

Nobody has waited longer to make a rehab appearance than Rainey, who has finally reached the final stages of recovery from last August’s Tommy John surgery. The right-hander is scheduled to start for Single-A Fredericksburg tonight, a milestone moment for him that he hopes sets him up to rejoin the Nationals bullpen sometime next month.

Ward made his second rehab start today in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League, tossing three scoreless innings with five strikeouts on 48 pitches. The right-hander, out since July 3 with shoulder inflammation, is attempting to build his arm up to be able to throw four-plus innings, the Nats wanting him to be available either for long relief or even to make spot starts in September if they decide to shut down young starters MacKenzie Gore and/or Jake Irvin.

The only negative news on the injury front involves Rico Garcia, who reported soreness in his shoulder while rehabbing in Florida. The right-hander, out since July 29 with biceps tendinitis, will be backed off and work on strengthening his shoulder before starting to throw again.

UPDATE: Rainey faced five batters in his debut for Fredericksburg, allowing two runs on three hits. He threw 13-of-18 pitches for strikes.

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