Updates on Gray, Robles and Ruiz

As the Nationals prepare to welcome the Astros to D.C. for three games this weekend, when the organization and fan base are celebrating the five-year anniversary of their World Series win over Houston, there was some baseball news to attend to before the festivities begin.

Davey Martinez has three prominent players on the injured list, and each of them is progressing nicely and nearing a return.

Josiah Gray, who landed on the 15-day IL on April 9, retroactive to April 6, with a right elbow/forearm flexor strain, has been able to increase his throwing distance over the past couple of days.

“Josiah Gray played catch up to 60 feet the last two days,” the manager said ahead of Friday’s opener. “He feels good, so he will continue his progress.”

Gray is eligible to come off the injured list after this weekend, but the Nats will likely want to see him return to the mound a few times before returning him to the active roster. And they’re hoping that once this injury has been healed it will turn into better results for the right-hander, who allowed 13 runs and 15 hits in 8 ⅓ innings over his first two starts.

Rookie left-hander Mitchell Parker currently holds Gray’s spot in the rotation and is scheduled to start Sunday’s finale against the Astros after Monday’s impressive victory over the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Victor Robles has been on the 10-day IL since April 4 with a left hamstring strain, yet another injury affecting the speedy outfielder's lower body. His upper body activity – hitting and throwing – haven’t really been affected by the injury, which is instead hampering his best skill set on the field.

“Victor Robles threw and hit without pain,” Martinez said. “He completed hamstring strength. So hopefully, the next step will be we'll kind of get him out on the field and jog a little bit and get him going.”

Robles was hitless in his four games, but posted a .600 on-base percentage by drawing three walks in five plate appearances, which also led to two stolen bases and two runs scored as he used the speed that makes him so valuable.

The Nats outfield is currently occupied by Lane Thomas, Jesse Winker, Jacob Young and Eddie Rosario. The first two names are obviously safe. But the Nats will have to decide between optioning Young (.229 average, .575 OPS, six stolen bases, six runs scored and one outfield assist) back down to Triple-A Rochester or cut ties with veteran Rosario (.141 average, .411 OPS, zero stolen bases, three runs scored and zero outfield assists).

Finally, Keibert Ruiz is feeling better after landing on the 10-day IL with influenza, but still has to wait until after tomorrow to return with his roster move backdated to April 12. Martinez said the catcher lost 20 pounds while battling the sickness and the team is just trying to build his overall strength back up.

“Keibert Ruiz, who obviously everybody knows was sick, he's feeling a lot better,” he said. “He played catch. He took a little bit of BP. So we'll build some strength back up with him and then decide what we're gonna do with him after his 10 days.”

Riley Adams and Drew Millas have covered the catcher’s position admirably in Ruiz’s absence.

What still remains to be decided is when the recovering players will go on their respective rehab assignments. Gray will need to face live hitters with a couple of up-downs, and Robles will need to see live pitches while roaming the outfield.

But Martinez isn’t sure about Ruiz, who isn’t dealing with any other physical ailments after being sick.

“I think a lot of these guys are gonna have to have to go out,” Martinez said. “Ruiz is the one guy where I'm just gonna sit back and have some conversations. One with him, one with the trainers, and just see where we're at. He's missed time. He's a catcher. I'd like to see him go down and squat down a couple of games. But we'll talk about it with him in the next day or two.”

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