Garrett taking ABs in scrimmages, still aiming for Opening Day

FORT MYERS, Fla. – When camp opened, manager Davey Martinez was adamant Stone Garrett had a realistic chance of making the Nationals’ Opening Day roster and completing his comeback from the gruesome leg and ankle injury he suffered in August. As the calendar turns to March and Garrett has yet to make his game debut this spring, has that outlook changed?

Not at all, Martinez insisted today.

“I’m still optimistic that he can do it,” the manager said prior to today’s exhibition game against the Red Sox. “He’s working really hard. Probably the next 10-12 days are going to really determine where he’s at. They’re pushing him, and he wants to be pushed.”

Garrett, who broke his left fibula and injured his ankle making a leaping catch at the wall Aug. 23 at Yankee Stadium, has been participating in most morning drills this spring but has not appeared in a Grapefruit League contest yet.

The 28-year-old outfielder did recently start taking at-bats and running the bases in minor league intrasquad scrimmages, which have started up on the back fields behind CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches.

“He’s been going back there and playing these little scrimmage games,” Martinez said. “He’s been getting at-bats, and he’s done well. He’s running the bases a lot better. The next step is to get him in an actual game and on his feet for three or four innings. But he’s doing well. He’s running better. And he’s hitting the ball.”

If Garrett can start playing in the field in addition to taking his at-bats in a controlled environment on the back fields, the Nationals will eventually determine if he’s ready to play in major league games later this month.

“I want him to play down there, get comfortable (first),” Martinez said. “If he has to come out for half an inning, go back out there, I’d rather see him do that than try to get him in a game here for now.”

With three weeks to go before the team heads north, Garrett does face a bit of a time crunch to start appearing in real games, building up to a full nine innings. It’s possible, though, the Nats could open the season with him only serving as designated hitter until he’s ready to play the field.

If the club ultimately decides Garrett needs more time, he’d open the year on the 15-day injured list and play in minor league rehab games before he’s activated. That would probably guarantee a roster spot for veteran outfielder Jesse Winker (who is in camp on a minor league deal) and perhaps either Jacob Young or Alex Call as a fourth outfielder. Or, if the organization believes it’s worth the risk, top prospect James Wood could theoretically make the team.

* The Nationals made a slight change to their upcoming pitching plans, flipping Trevor Williams and Zach Davies in the rotation order.

Davies, who last pitched Tuesday, will start Sunday against the Marlins. Williams, who reported to camp late after the birth of his fifth child, will make his debut Monday against the Cardinals.

* Mason Thompson had successful Tommy John surgery Friday in Dallas. The reliever, who needed elbow ligament replacement for the second time in his career, is scheduled for a follow-up visit in 10 days.

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