The Nationals announced two minor, but noteworthy, roster moves before their second game of this weekend series against the Reds.
Yadiel Hernandez was transferred to the 60-day injured list, ending his season while he still recovers from a left calf strain. He was placed on the 10-day IL on Aug. 20 (retroactive to Aug. 19), but his calf was not healing at a rate in which the team thought he could be ready to play in any of the remaining 35 games.
So the Nationals decided to shut down the 34-year-old outfielder so he can start getting ready for next year.
“He's had a calf, and from past experience with these calves, it's going to take a little bit longer than we anticipated,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame press conference. “But those calves, you gotta be really careful. So we didn't think that he was going to be ready in time.
“What I'd like to see is that when Yadi leaves here for this winter that he's completely healthy. That he's running without all the baseball (things), but that he's running full tilt, can do some outfield stuff. This way he doesn't have to go home and worry about that. He just could have a normal winter and get ready for spring training.”
Hernandez played in 94 games with the Nationals, mainly as either the left fielder or designated hitter. He slashed .269/.312/.410 with a .722 OPS, 16 doubles, nine home runs and 41 RBIs.
Although he’s one of the older players, Hernadez is under team control through the 2026 season. The calf strain just put an end to his 2022 campaign, frustrating the older third-year player who waited a long time in the minor leagues to finally get a chance in the majors.
“Yeah, he was frustrated. As anybody gets, everybody always feels good until they have to do something baseball activity-wise,” Martinez said. “So I think at this point with the medical staff and everybody's just talking that we went through this last year with two players where we thought they were ready and it took him forever. Every time they tried to run, it was a setback. So for and for everybody else and for Yadi, we just want to make sure that this is not a lingering situation, that he's completely healthy. And that's how we explain it to him. And he was down because you know he loves playing. I mean, that's what he does. But I think he understood that we're trying to look out for him and his future. Like I said, you don't want to do any more damage to your calf because it's tough to come back from those.”
While Hernandez shifts to the 60-day IL, Seth Romero was returned from his rehab assignment, reinstated from the 60-day injured list and optioned to Double-A Harrisburg, filling the open spot on the 40-man roster.
Romero made a surprise rehab start with the Senators on Thursday, pitching two shutout innings of one-hit ball with five strikeouts. The Nationals are hoping to stretch him out so he can pitch in more games before the season ends.
“We're gonna get him out there and try to get him stretched out as much as possible,” Martinez said. “I know he threw two innings the other day and did well. So I think in his next outing he'll probably be anywhere between 45-50 pitches. So we'll see how that goes.”
The Nationals’ first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, Romero has disappointed during his professional career both with inconsistencies on the mound and troubles off the field.
Romero gave up four runs in 2 ⅔ innings over his first three major league appearances in 2020 while walking three and striking out five. He has a career 4.29 ERA, 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.91 strikeout-to-walk rate over parts of four minor league seasons.
But his issues off the field started when he was in college at the University of Houston. He was suspended from the team both as a sophomore and as a junior before finally being dismissed during the 2017 season.
Romero was invited to his first major league spring training in 2018 but was ordered to leave in early March for violating team policy. He would undergo Tommy John surgery in August to end his season and keep him out for all of 2019.
This past offseason Romero was arrested in Texas for driving while intoxicated.
Nonetheless, the Nationals are giving the 26-year-old left-hander another chance to develop into a major league contributor, something that Martinez says is entirely up to the young pitcher.
“For me, honestly, that's up to Seth Romero,” the skipper said. “He's very talented and he's had some issues. And we've all talked to him about it. But at this point, it's up to him. He can definitely help us along the road, but he's got to do the right things. As you know, I don't tolerate a whole lot of things off the field. So he's got to do the right things off the field as well as perform on the field. So only time will tell. He's still fairly young, which is good. But it all just depends on how Seth wants to move forward.”