Hellickson shut down with sore shoulder (Nats up 14-4)

ATLANTA - The Nationals have shut down Jeremy Hellickson from throwing after the right-hander was continuing to experience shoulder soreness while on the injured list.

Hellickson, who went on the IL on May 21 with a strained right shoulder, was already throwing long toss that afternoon and believed he could keep himself sharp during what he hoped would be a brief stint off the active roster.

Jeremy-Hellickson-Delivers-Gray-at-Phillies-Sidebar.jpgBut the right-hander wasn't responding to the throwing sessions as well as he wanted, so the club decided to shut him down and have him rehab back in Washington.

"It was the bouncing back (after starts) that got him," manager Davey Martinez said. "I thought by letting him throw and adding a long-toss program that it'll help him. And he just said that his shoulder just hasn't bounced back. So we just shut him down, and we want him to strengthen his shoulder so he can come back and help us."

A timetable for Hellickson to return is unclear, but what is clear is that Erick Fedde will remain in the Nationals rotation for the time being.

Fedde, who has impressed in his first two starts of the season, already is slated to take the mound again Saturday in Cincinnati (against former Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark).

Meanwhile, reliever Justin Miller remains in Washington as well rehabbing from a rotator cuff strain in his right shoulder. Miller threw from 90 feet on flat ground today, according to Martinez.

Update: If you were asked to draw up a best-case scenario for the first two innings of this game, you probably couldn't have drawn up something much better than this. The Nationals batted around in both the first and second, scoring four runs each time. And they did it with only one extra-base hit (Anthony Rendon's two-run triple off the right field wall). These rallies were the product of a bunch of solid singles up the middle, something Martinez has been preaching for a while now. Everybody contributed in some way, knocking out Kevin Gausman, who retired only three of the 13 batters he faced. And Aníbal Sánchez is off to a rousing start as well, retiring all six batters he has faced so far, striking out a pair. It's 8-0 Nats after two innings.

Update II: You truly never know what you're going to see at the ballpark on any given night. Like, the Nationals holding a 14-0 lead after five innings. With Sanchez having retired all 15 batters he has faced. Yes, that's exactly what has happened so far tonight. The Nats got a homer from Juan Soto in the fourth, then a three-run double from Howie Kendrick and a two-run homer from Matt Adams in the fifth to turn this into a complete rout. Sánchez, meanwhile, hasn't had too many close calls through his five perfect frames. He's got five strikeouts. His pitch count is going to be an issue at some point, but right now he's very comfortable at 63.

Update III: Sánchez finally gave in during the bottom of the sixth. After retiring 16 straight batters, he allowed a single to Ozzie Albies, then walked Charlie Culberson. But the veteran got out of the inning without any more damage, and so he earned some well-deserved handshakes after six innings of one-hit ball on 80 pitches. The Nats bullpen, of course, still needs to finish this off. And Kyle McGowin didn't exactly do much to help the cause when he opened the bottom of the seventh allowing three straight singles before a grand slam to Austin Riley. Yep, it's now 14-4 after seven.

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