Meneses returns from paternity leave, Alu back to Triple-A

Joey Meneses was hesitant to leave Washington with the rest of his Nationals teammates following Monday’s win over the Mets, given what was going on in his personal life. Though Meneses’ wife, Mitzy Guzman, wasn’t due to give birth to the couple’s first child until later in the month, she went to the hospital that day with some discomfort, only to be sent back home when doctors told her nothing appeared imminent.

So Meneses went to Miami and played in Tuesday night’s loss to the Marlins, going 0-for-3 with a walk. Then his phone rang at 4 a.m., and he heard the news: Guzman’s water had broken, and she was going back to the hospital in labor.

Meneses scrambled to get on the first available flight back home Wednesday morning. He did not, however, make it in time to witness the birth of Joseph Meneses Guzman.

“Unfortunately, the baby was born around 12:30, and I didn’t get there 'til about 2 o’clock,” Meneses shared today, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “By the time I landed and got through the airport and everything, I got here a little later than I wanted.”

“That’s OK,” Meneses added in English with a wide smile. “He’s healthy and good.”

The Nationals officially added Meneses back to their active roster today. Major League Baseball rules allow players to take up to three days on paternity leave, but the 31-year-old slugger was ready to return, so he’s back in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Tigers, batting third and serving at designated hitter.

Meneses had been on a tear at the plate before leaving the club, batting .347 with an .801 OPS over his last 23 games. He was able to come to Nationals Park on Thursday and get some work in while the team was finishing up its series in Miami, hoping he doesn’t lose any positive strides he had made in recent weeks.

“I hope it doesn’t affect anything,” he said. “I felt good before the two days off at the plate. I felt very good, confident. And it’s only two days. I don’t think it’s a lot of time. So hopefully I can pick up right where I left off.”

With Meneses back on the active roster, Jake Alu was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Alu has spent the last week bouncing back and forth between rosters. Initially sent down on Monday when Corey Dickerson was activated off the injured list, he played in only one game for Rochester before rejoining the Nationals in Miami. Alu started Thursday’s game against the Marlins in left field and went 2-for-4.

* The Nationals are nearing a decision on Chad Kuhl, who has been on the 15-day IL with a right foot issue since April 30. Kuhl, who threw 65 pitches over four simulated innings Monday, was scheduled to play catch today, after which manager Davey Martinez planned to meet with the right-hander and pitching coach Jim Hickey to discuss the next step.

The Nats could have Kuhl go on a minor league rehab assignment and build up his pitch count more. They could keep Kuhl here and have him pitch another simulated game. Or they could decide he’s ready to be activated, at which point they have to decide whether to put him back in the rotation or move him to the bullpen so rookie Jake Irvin can continue to start.

“I’m going to sit down with Hickey, talk to (general manager Mike Rizzo) a little more about it, and see where we’re at,” Martinez said.

* Sean Doolittle (left elbow sprain) continues to pitch every other day at extended spring training but has not yet pitched back-to-back days, which the Nationals view as a necessary step before he’s ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment.

“I think after this one there’s a good possibility he will start next week trying to go back-to-back days, and we’ll see where he’s at,” Martinez said. “But so far, every time he’s thrown, he’s thrown the ball well with no pain. So that’s a good sign.”

* Victor Robles (back spasms) is progressing slowly, having reported soreness after taking swings.

* Victor Arano (right shoulder strain) felt sore after his last bullpen session in West Palm Beach, Fla., and will get an MRI.

Nats try to rally but can't overcome Irvin's rough...
Game 45 lineups: Nats vs. Tigers

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