With the additions of new names and faces over the past week, the Nationals are still waiting for the returns of some familiar folks, hopefully sooner rather than later.
On the field, the Nats are still without Kyle McGowin, who has been on the 10-day injured list since July 11 with right biceps fatigue. The right-handed reliever took a big step in his return this afternoon by throwing off the mound in the bullpen and then to live hitters on the field at Nationals Park.
"He threw 24 pitches. He threw the ball well," manager Davey Martinez said of McGowin's workout during his Zoom session with reporters prior to today's series finale against the Phillies. "He says he feels good, so we'll see how he feels after coming out of this today. But he might be ready to go out for a rehab assignment here shortly."
McGowin has a 4.56 ERA, 1.208 WHIP, 29 strikeouts and four walks in 25 2/3 innings this season. While the Nationals would like to see an improvement on the bullpen's collective 4.72 ERA that currently ranks 12th in the National League, it's more important for them to see McGowin back healthy and showing what he can do for the last month-plus of the season.
A trade acquisition from the Angles for Danny Espinosa back in 2016, McGowin isn't eligible for arbitration until 2024 and not a free agent until 2027. Though he turns 30 in November, it would benefit the Nationals to know whether or not they have another reliable arm in the bullpen under a team-friendly contract for the next several seasons.
Meanwhile in the dugout, after yesterday's non-update, Martinez did have new news on his coaching staff today: They will be cleared to leave Philadelphia on Sunday and will meet the team on Monday's off-day in New York for next week's series against the Mets.
"We do, actually," Martinez said when asked if he had a coaching staff update today. "They'll be cleared on Sunday. So they'll fly out or train Sunday night and meet us in New York on Monday."
Crazy how things can change in 24 hours.
Bench coach Tim Bogar, pitching coach Jim Hickey, third base coach Bob Henley, first base coach Randy Knorr, assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler and four other members of the club's traveling staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week while the team was in Philadelphia.
Before today, they were still waiting to be cleared to rejoin the team by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the two Nationals players, five coaches and four other staffers who tested positive for the virus, all but one of them were vaccinated, per Martinez.
That means the minor league coaches who have filled in with the big league team - Double-A Harrisburg pitching coach Sam Narron, outfield and baserunning coordinator Gary Thurman, Triple-A hitting coach Brian Daubach and Gulf Coast League pitching coach Michael Tejera - will be able to return to their regularly assigned positions at the different affiliates. Also, Henry Blanco, who has been the third base coach, will return as the bullpen coach and Jordy Mercer can have his ceremonial bench coach title removed and focus on healing a left calf strain and returning from the injured list.