Ruiz's season likely over, McGee designated for assignment

Keibert Ruiz catchers gear gray

PHILADELPHIA – Keibert Ruiz’s season has likely come to an abrupt end after the Nationals placed their young catcher on the injured list with a testicular contusion that forced him to remain in a St. Louis hospital overnight after he was struck by a foul ball during the team’s series finale against the Cardinals.

Ruiz was discharged and was flying to Philadelphia late this afternoon to rejoin the Nationals, who formally placed him on the 10-day IL prior to tonight’s game against the Phillies. Manager Davey Martinez, though, said Ruiz has been instructed not to partake in any strenuous activities for three weeks, which leaves him almost no chance of making it back before the season ends in 26 days.

“We hope that he just continues to get better,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he’s doing. But with everything going on, the doctors said he’s not able to do anything strenuous for three weeks. So we’re just going to take it day by day and take it from there.”

Martinez generally was encouraged about Ruiz’s progress in the last day and didn’t sound overly concerned about his long-term well-being. Assuming his season is over, the 24-year-old will finish with a .251 batting average, 22 doubles, seven homers, 36 RBIs and a .673 OPS across 433 plate appearances.

Ruiz enters the day having caught 106 games, second only to the Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto this season. He has thrown out 18 basestealers while also picking off four runners, giving him 22 total runners thrown out (again, second only to Realmuto among all major league catchers).

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Cruz sitting, Fedde progressing, Clippard close to returning

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CHICAGO – Nelson Cruz is out of the Nationals lineup for today’s series finale against the Cubs, less than 24 hours after the veteran designated hitter had to come out of a game with a sore right shoulder.

Cruz took only two at-bats during Tuesday night’s 6-5 win over the Cubs, flying out to left in the top of the first and then striking out in the top of the fourth. As he watched those at-bats, manager Davey Martinez noticed the 42-year-old didn’t look comfortable swinging, so when his turn to bat came up again in the fifth, Maikel Franco pinch-hit for him.

Martinez described the soreness as emanating from the back of Cruz’s shoulder. He figured all along he’d sit Cruz for this afternoon’s series finale, though he got encouraging news this morning to suggest he could be able to pinch-hit at some point during the game.

“Especially with the quick turnaround,” Martinez said of the decision not to start Cruz today. “We played last night, and he had to come out of the game. I thought regardless of how he felt, maybe to give him a day (off) today would be good. I talked to him this morning and he said: ‘Let me get loose, let me get ready and I’ll be available to pinch-hit later.’ ”

Cruz had been hitting the ball a bit better of late, going 8-for-29 with two RBIs and three walks during an eight-game stretch prior to Tuesday. He continues not to hit for power, though, having produced a scant .225 slugging percentage over his last 31 games, with three doubles and zero homers since June 25.

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Nats to skip Corbin's next start, claim McGee off waivers

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CHICAGO – The Nationals will skip over Patrick Corbin’s next turn through the rotation but do plan to continue starting the struggling left-hander once he has a chance to work on a few things over the weekend.

Manager Davey Martinez said the club will use the off-day between this road series against the Cubs and the upcoming home series against the Padres to bypass Corbin’s turn in the rotation. He would then return to start Tuesday against the Cubs in D.C.

“For me, it is a tough decision, because he’s very competitive,” Martinez said. “And he takes the ball every five days. He’s trying to sort some things out, and some days he looks really, really good. And the last few outings, he couldn’t get out of the first inning.”

Three consecutive seasons of declining performance reached a low point Saturday in Philadelphia, when Corbin failed to record three outs for the second time in three starts. He currently owns a 4-16 record and 7.02 ERA, both the loss total and ERA figure worst in the majors.

Since earning Cy Young Award votes and helping the Nationals win the World Series in the first year of his six-year, $140 million contract, the lefty has gone 15-39 with a 5.98 ERA and 1.599 WHIP, making him statistically the worst starting pitcher in the big leagues over a three-year span.

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