Nats salute Soto and Bell, then get trounced by Padres (updated)

soto padres hi five

First came the video tribute, with plenty of highlights of Juan Soto and Josh Bell in Nationals uniforms, plus a taped message from Soto himself to D.C. fans, prompting a big round of applause. Then came the announcement of the Padres’ starting lineup, featuring Soto batting second and Bell batting fourth, each of them receiving more applause.

Then came the top of the first, with Soto stepping to the plate to a standing ovation, taking off his helmet and saluting the crowd. Two batters later, Bell got the same treatment and responded in kind.

It all made for a heartfelt reunion of former players returning to South Capitol Street, even if they were traded away only 10 days ago. And then ultimately yet another frustrating night of baseball for the Nationals and their fans, who watched as Soto, Bell and the Padres beat them 10-5 in a game that only looked somewhat close because of a bottom-of-the-ninth rally.

"You never realize it until you're there," Soto said of the emotions he felt throughout the game. "When I stepped to the plate and saw all my teammates and everybody's clapping, it was a pretty cool moment."

Emotional as they both were to leave the Nats at the trade deadline, the two sluggers were equally excited to join a San Diego club in the thick of a pennant race. Soto went so far as to verbalize that before the game, saying: “When you’re on a winning team, the level of your game just goes higher and higher.”

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Robles sits with hamstring cramp, rotation set for Mets series

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Victor Robles is out of the Nationals' lineup for today’s series finale against the Cardinals after his left hamstring cramped during the eighth inning of Saturday night’s 7-6 victory.

Robles hurt himself tracking down Brendan Donovan’s deep flyball to center field for the final out of the top of the eighth, a key play that maintained the Nats’ one-run lead after St. Louis loaded the bases earlier in the inning.

Due up third in the bottom of that inning, Robles was late to get to the plate and then quickly struck out, not looking comfortable in the process. Manager Davey Martinez then decided to remove him from the game, shifting Lane Thomas to center field and inserting utilityman Ehire Adrianza in left field for the top of the ninth.

“He’s OK,” Martinez said. “When I had to take him out of the game yesterday, I figured I’d give him a day (off) today. When he cramps up like that, it knots up pretty good. I talked to him last night and told him: ‘I’m just going to give you a day and get that right.’ ”

It was an eventful game for Robles, who hit his fourth homer of the season (his second in a week), made a diving catch in deep left-center field and also made an ill-advised throw only moments before he was injured.

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Fedde goes on IL, Abbott could take rotation spot

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The Nationals placed Erick Fedde on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation this afternoon, creating a ripple effect on the rest of their rotation as Tuesday’s trade deadline approaches.

Fedde, who was supposed to start tonight against the Cardinals, instead went on the IL (retroactive to July 27) after complaining of a sore shoulder following his last start, though he doesn’t believe the issue is serious enough to sideline him for long.

Paolo Espino, originally listed as Sunday’s starter, will pitch tonight instead, though he remains on full rest because of Thursday’s off-day for the team. Josiah Gray and Patrick Corbin also are having their starts bumped up a day, with Gray now slated to pitch Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals and Corbin going Monday against the Mets.

That leaves a rotation hole for Tuesday, with a starter needed to face the Mets. Manager Davey Martinez said that assignment will go to Cory Abbott, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester today, provided the right-hander isn’t needed out of the bullpen tonight.

The injury to Fedde (who is 5-7 with a 4.95 ERA in 19 starts) comes after he threw 99 pitches in only 4 2/3 innings Sunday at Arizona, after which he experienced shoulder soreness.

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Harvey optioned to Triple-A, Cruz sits again

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Needing fresh arms to get them through today’s first-half finale, the Nationals called up Cory Abbott from Triple-A and optioned Hunter Harvey to Rochester.

Abbott, who has been a starter in the minors, is available to pitch multiple innings in relief this afternoon, which is already a bullpen game. Erasmo Ramirez will start, going two or three innings before manager Davey Martinez begins summoning a parade of other relievers the rest of the game.

Harvey’s demotion has less to do with performance and more to do with the fact he still has options and his recent lengthy stint on the injured list with a pronator strain in his forearm. The right-hander gave up two runs while throwing 28 pitches during Saturday’s loss to the Braves, the first time he’s been scored upon in seven big league appearances this season (sandwiched around the IL stint).

“He’s been a guy that’s been injured,” Martinez said. “He’s got four days off (the All-Star break) down there coming up. We’re just going to give him a little breather and get him back. We want him to pitch multiple innings, work on his breaking ball a little bit more, and then we’ll get him back up here as soon as we can.”

The Nationals found themselves in this predicament due to Tuesday’s rainout against the Mariners. That created a doubleheader Wednesday, and thus a stretch of six games in five days to close out the season’s first half.

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Cavalli's finger issue not believed serious; Abbott recalled


Cade Cavalli’s removal from Tuesday night’s start for Triple-A Rochester was for precautionary reasons, and the Nationals’ top pitching prospect appears to have avoided serious injury.

Cavalli came out of Rochester’s game against Omaha in the fourth inning after throwing a pitch and immediately motioning to the dugout. Red Wings manager Matthew LeCroy told Rochester-based reporter Dan Glickman the issue was with a finger on Cavalli’s throwing hand.

“He had a little thing on his finger,” LeCroy told Glickman. “It wasn’t really a blister, it was a little small piece of skin that got pulled off his finger. He wanted to keep going, but we thought it would be best not to. I think we got it at the right time, so I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.”

Cavalli had been dominating for a second straight start, allowing one unearned run while striking out six through 3 2/3 innings. This after he carried a perfect game into the sixth inning of his previous start. Over his last seven starts, the 2020 first round pick sports a 2.15 ERA, 0.850 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings.

Cavalli, along with Single-A Wilmington infielder Darren Baker, was selected to represent the Nationals in Saturday’s All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium. His status for that exhibition is unclear at this point.

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Abbott is latest fresh arm to get called up

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Needing a fresh arm to help get them through today’s day-night doubleheader, the Nationals recalled right-hander Cory Abbott from Triple-A and optioned reliever Andres Machado to Rochester.

Abbott was today’s scheduled starter for Rochester in Scranton, so he’s available for length should the Nats need it either in relief of Game 1 starter Joan Adon or nightcap starter Paolo Espino.

“The biggest thing was bringing up a guy who could give us multiple innings if need be,” manager Davey Martinez said.

Abbott, 26, has big-league experience, pitching seven games last season for the Cubs, allowing 13 earned runs on 20 hits and 11 walks over 17 1/3 innings. The Giants acquired him in April, then the Nationals claimed him off waivers in May and sent him to Triple-A to pitch as both a starter and reliever.

In six games spanning 13 innings for Rochester, Abbott allowed 13 runs on 17 hits, walking nine but striking out 18.

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Nats face dilemma picking spot starter for next week

rogers throws gray@COL

The late postponement of the game made for an annoying Friday night for everyone who had already gathered at Nationals Park and had to turn around and head home. It also created a new annoyance for the Nats, who must figure out how to fill out their rotation over the next week to account for today’s doubleheader.

Teams have the ability to promote a 27th player from the minors for doubleheader games and often elect to call up a spot starter for one of the two games. In this case, the Nationals elected to promote reliever Andres Machado and have him available for both games.

Machado opened the season in the Nationals bullpen and posted a 2.45 ERA in 10 appearances, but was optioned to Triple-A Rochester once rosters had to be reduced from 28 to 26 at the end of April. He had less success with the Red Wings, allowing five runs and nine hits in seven innings since the demotion, but his experience and ability to provide more than one inning if needed made him the choice for today’s promotion.

“He’s been throwing the ball well,” manager Davey Martinez said. “Based on what we think (the Rockies’) lineup will be, and the righties they have, if we needed someone, we wanted to get a right-handed pitcher up here that can give us multiple innings.”

Aaron Sanchez, who had begun to warm up before Friday night’s game was postponed, said he was good to start today’s first game. Joan Adon will pitch tonight as originally planned. And Josiah Gray will remain on a normal schedule and start Sunday’s series finale.

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Doolittle moved to 60-day IL after receiving PRP injection


DENVER – The Nationals transferred Sean Doolittle to the 60-day injured list this afternoon, revealing the left-hander recently received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his elbow, which will prevent him from throwing for another six weeks. They then used that new opening on the 40-man roster to claim right-hander Cory Abbott from the Giants and immediately option him to Triple-A Rochester.

The move of Doolittle from the 10-day to the 60-day IL ensures he’ll be out until at least late June, but last week’s PRP injection ensured it would probably take that long for him to recover anyway.

“He opted to do that, get it over with, get it done right away,” manager Davey Martinez said before tonight’s game against the Rockies. “Now he’s just going to rehab. He said he feels really good, which is great. We’re just going to rehab him and get him back.”

Doolittle was off to a red-hot start in April after rejoining the Nationals on a one-year, $1.5 million contract this spring. He did not allow a run over his first six relief appearances and only allowed a batter to reach base for the first time in his most recent outing.

But the 35-year-old experienced pain in his elbow during that last appearance and informed club officials. He promptly was placed on the 10-day IL, with hopes he’d be OK to resume throwing after rest and rehab for a couple weeks. All the while, though, he admitted he knew there remained the possibility the sprain was more serious and could require a significant amount of time off or even major surgery.

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