PHILADELPHIA – Some news and notes before the Nationals take on the Phillies in the second game of this weekend’s series at Citizens Bank Park …
* MacKenzie Gore is set to make a rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Rochester at Syracuse, his first game action since his acquisition from the Padres at the trade deadline.
Gore, who has been on the 15-day injured list with left elbow inflammation, is scheduled to throw three innings for the Red Wings, perhaps building up his pitch count to 45.
The Nationals are attempting to build Gore up enough to come off the IL before season’s end. Manager Davey Martinez said they’d ideally like for him to get up to five innings and 75 pitches, so that would suggest three minor league rehab starts and then at most two starts for the Nats in the season’s final days.
“The most exciting thing is that he’s throwing off the mound again. The ball’s coming out, and he looks like he’s good,” Martinez said. “Now it’s just a matter of facing hitters. We saw him do that a little bit, but now he gets to compete. I’m looking forward to watching him do that. My big thing is to make sure that when he leaves here this year, he’s healthy and he can go into the winter. And then we’ll build him up and get him ready for spring training.”
* Though they’ve gone with a six-man rotation this week on the road, the Nationals won’t need nearly that many starts when they return home next week. With off-days scheduled for both Monday and Thursday sandwiched around a two-game interleague series against the Orioles, there probably isn’t a need to use everyone in the rotation.
Martinez said plans are still being finalized, but he suggested Josiah Gray is likely to get more extra rest than other starters as they try to manage his innings down the stretch. The 24-year-old has now totaled 131 2/3 innings this season, surpassing his career high of 130 set in 2019 while a minor leaguer in the Dodgers organization.
“We’ll give some guys a little longer break than others,” Martinez said. “But we’re going to sit down and revamp our starters here, probably by tomorrow. We do have these days coming up. I want to make sure Josiah gets extra days, and then we’ll go from there.”
* Cade Cavalli is two weeks removed from being shut down with shoulder inflammation, which means he’s about ready to start throwing again.
Cavalli, who made his major league debut Aug. 26 before reporting shoulder soreness the next day, has been keeping himself in shape with non-throwing workouts since, and he’s traveled with the Nationals throughout this 10-game road trip. Barring any complications, he’s due to start some light throwing early next week, though there probably won’t be enough time left in the season for him to return to pitch in a game.
“We’ve got time, so we’re going to take it easy with him,” Martinez said. “He’s another guy who I want to make sure, when he goes home, he feels really good and he has a good winter and we get him ready for spring training.”
* Keibert Ruiz rejoined the club Friday after spending a night in a St. Louis hospital. The young catcher was placed on the 10-day IL with a testicular contusion, the result of an errant foul ball during Thursday’s game.
Ruiz remains at the team’s Philadelphia hotel and is unlikely to return to play this season.
“It’s going to take him a while,” Martinez said. “But he looked good, he felt good, he was upbeat. He was tired. So he came out to say hello to the guys, but then we sent him back to the hotel. He slept all night, he’s sleeping all day. He said if he’s feeling up to it, he might show up today.”