Wieters expected to miss significant time after hamstring surgery

Matt Wieters had surgery Wednesday to repair his left hamstring, the Nationals announced today, a major procedure that figures to sideline the veteran catcher until at least late in the season, if not through the remainder of the season.

The Nationals offered no timeline yet for Wieters' recovery, saying only that they "will provide more information when Matt returns to Washington, D.C. and is evaluated by our medical staff."

Hamstring surgery, though, is a major procedure and typically only performed on athletes who suffered a significant tear, perhaps even of the tendon that connects the large leg muscle to the bone.

Wieters-Walks-Off-Injured-Gray-Sidebar.jpgWieters injured himself last Thursday night in Arizona, rounding first base on a single to shallow center field. Just as he was about to hit the bag and made a wide turn in case he had an opportunity to stretch the hit into a double, Wieters' left leg buckled. He limped back to first base and immediately signaled for a trainer.

"The step before the bag, I just felt behind my knee ... kind of go a little bit," Wieters said after that game. "And it didn't get any better as I took more strides."

Wieters, who was able to stand and walk under his own power afterward, said he was hopeful the injury was confined only to the back of his hamstring but admitted his knee may have sustained some damage on the play as well. He was due to have an MRI taken of his leg the following day; the Nationals have not yet revealed the results of that test, nor said whether there was an injury to his knee.

"We're thinking it's probably hamstring, but it's kind of in the back of the connection point of where there's some other things running in there," Wieters said one week ago. "So we just want to make sure. Hopefully it is hamstring, and hopefully it's not too bad. And we'll see what steps are next."

Their catching corps suddenly depleted, the Nationals immediately turned to Pedro Severino to take over as their No. 1 backstop. The 24-year-old has started the team's last four games and overall has performed well, hitting .274 with a .386 on-base percentage and .743 OPS. Veteran pitchers have raved about Severino's improvement behind the plate and game-planning skills.

With veteran Miguel Montero (who opened the season as Wieters' backup) released after an 0-for-11 start to the season, projected Triple-A catcher Raudy Read serving an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug and longtime minor league backup Jhonatan Solano on the 60-day disabled list with bone spurs in his elbow, the Nationals were left scrambling to find a new No. 2 catcher.

The club wound up promoting 27-year-old Spencer Kieboom, who has a .261 batting average and .340 on-base percentage in seven minor league seasons, from Triple-A last weekend, though he has yet to appear behind the plate in a major league game. They also have 34-year-old Tuffy Gosewisch, owner of a .190 batting average in 137 career big league games, currently playing in Syracuse.

The Nationals expect to continue giving Severino ample opportunity to prove he's ready to be their No. 1 catcher, but they may have no choice not but to explore another veteran option to back him up and be available to step into a starting role if Severino struggles with more playing time.

Nats have some time to make catching decisions
Wednesday's games postponed, makeups on June 18

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