WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – After seemingly positive results in what was a major milestone in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, it was revealed today that Carter Kieboom has suffered a setback.
The 25-year-old, who played in his first major league game in 17 months on Thursday, is experiencing tightness in his right shoulder and has been slowed down by the team.
“Carter had a little setback. Now it's his shoulder,” manager Davey Martinez said this morning. “He's got some tightness in his right shoulder. I think because of the Tommy John, this is part of it. So we're gonna be really careful with him and kind of build up some strength in that shoulder and then go from there. It's all the throwing. He said he could hit. But I told him, 'Let's just back off a little bit. We got time, build up some strength in that shoulder and then we'll get you back out there as soon as the trainers deem ready.'”
Kieboom had been taking part in infield drills over the first few weeks of camp. While he was cleared to throw, he would do so strictly overhand, not yet using a sidearm motion. He even took a couple of days off from throwing completely, participating in the same drills without actually releasing the ball.
His hitting has not been affected by his recovery. He participated in Thursday’s game as the designated hitter and went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a run scored.
“He said it's kind of been lingering here and there,” Martinez said. “So one day he feels good, one day he thought he was just sore. And now he said it was pretty sore. So we said, hey look, we're just gonna back off. Let him just get some strengthening in there and get him ready.”
The setback, of course, is bad news for the third baseman, who is trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the organization and make the Opening Day roster. The good news, however, is that it’s an issue with his throwing shoulder instead of his elbow again.
“The good news is his elbow feels great,” Martinez said. “So now we'll address that and hopefully he'll be ready real soon. … Part of the issue that I said, because of his elbow, he's going to try to protect it. It might cause some other issues. The throwing in different angles, like I said, was going to be a kind of a (tell-tale sign). And that's exactly where we're at right now. All the throwing from different angles, his shoulder got sore.”
The Nationals will give Kieboom some time to rest and strengthen his shoulder and arm. When they feel he’s ready to return to the field, they’ll get him in some simulated games on the back fields of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in a controlled environment.
“Whenever we have sim games, I'm gonna give him a couple of days just to kind of calm it down a little bit,” Martinez said. “But I told him, I said, 'Hey, we're gonna have a lot of guys throwing. And then as soon as the minor leagues start playing games, which is fairly soon, we can get you in there. Because then we could do it under a controlled environment. If I put you in a game and something happened, I got to take you out. If you want three at-bats, we'll get you three at-bats. You want five at-bats, we can give you five at-bats.' So we'll see how that goes.”
* Israel Pineda has a displacement of the tip of his right pinky finger after getting hit by a pitch in yesterday’s game, per Martinez. That’s good news considering he almost got hit in the head.
The young catcher caught some on the back fields this morning, but the Nats are waiting to see how it affects his throwing and hitting.
If he does miss extended time, Drew Millas and Brady Lindsly are listed as backup catchers behind Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams.
* The Nats have planned out their rotation starting after tomorrow’s off-day:
Tuesday - MacKenzie Gore
Wednesday - Chad Kuhl (in Lakeland)
Thursday - Cade Cavalli
Friday - Patrick Corbin
Josiah Gray and Trevor Williams will pitch on the back fields in West Palm Beach on Wednesday while the team is in Lakeland facing the Tigers.