Wieters placed on 10-day DL, Kieboom promoted (updated)

PHOENIX - The Nationals, as expected, placed Matt Wieters on the 10-day disabled list today with a left hamstring strain, though the club has not yet announced what this morning's MRI of the catcher's injured left leg revealed.

Wieters hurt himself rounding first base during the top of the second inning of Thursday night's 2-1, 11-inning win over the Diamondbacks, his left leg buckling. Afterward, he said he was hopeful the injury was confined to his hamstring, though the MRI was scheduled to examine both the hamstring and his knee.

Needing immediate catching help for new starter Pedro Severino, the Nationals promoted Spencer Kieboom from Triple-A Syracuse. To make room for Kieboom on their 40-man roster, they transferred outfielder Adam Eaton (who had arthroscopic ankle surgery Thursday) to the 60-day DL.

Manager Davey Martinez said results of today's MRI will be sent to the Nationals' medical staff, which will examine Wieters in person after the club returns to Washington early next week. For now, they are referring to his injury as a strained hamstring, but they won't know if his knee sustained any damage until the follow-up exam.

"He's got some swelling," Martinez said. "So they have to wait until the swelling goes down, and then we'll see what happens."

Spencer-Kieboom-far.jpgThis is Kieboom's second career promotion to the majors, though the first one was fleeting. When Wilson Ramos tore his ACL during the final week of the 2016 season, the Nationals called up Kieboom to serve as their No. 3 catcher. He wound up getting one plate appearance, drawing a walk, but he never played an inning in the field.

More opportunities should present themselves to the 27-year-old this time around, with Severino taking over as the Nats' No. 1 catcher but requiring the occasional day off (perhaps as soon as Saturday, given the quick turnaround to a 1:10 p.m. local start).

"I talked to (Syracuse manager) Randy Knorr today, and he said he's catching really well," Martinez said of Kieboom. "He took ownership of handling the pitching staff down there. We want him to come here and get to know our pitchers, because he's going to have to be used, and keep doing what he's been doing."

A fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft, Kieboom has been a familiar face in the Nationals clubhouse during spring training. He got the news Friday night, after a 4-for-4 performance for Syracuse that raised his season batting average to .250 and perhaps helped him earn the promotion over 34-year-old teammate Tuffy Gosewisch, who has 137 games of major league experience but a .499 career OPS.

Kieboom, who flew from Syracuse to Phoenix (via Detroit) this morning, was comforted to know he has already established a relationship with most of the Nationals' pitchers and many others on the roster over the years, despite his lack of big league service time.

"I've been around these guys, most of them, for four spring trainings," he said. "The first two, you kind of get to know everybody. The third, you start knowing everybody. And then on. It's good. You feel like you're part of the team, and it's good. That's the only way to put it. It feels good, normal."

Though Kieboom will get some time behind the plate, the primary job now falls to Severino, who has impressed when he's been given a chance so far this season. The 24-year-old enters tonight's game batting .267 with eight RBIs and a .392 on-base percentage over 21 games.

"He's been doing awesome," Martinez said. "I know he shares time with Wieters, but he's been really good the times he's had a chance to play. Now he's going to get some more time to play. I just want him to continue doing what he's doing."

The transfer of Eaton from the 10-day to the 60-day DL comes one day after he had arthroscopic surgery Thursday to remove a flap of cartilage that had been causing pain in his ankle for the last month. Because the original stint was backdated to April 9, he'll now be eligible to return June 8. Though the Nationals offered no timetable for his return, it seemed unlikely he would have been ready before that date anyway.

Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman is out of the Nationals' lineup for the second straight game due to a sore back. Martinez said the first baseman tried to get loose to be available to pinch-hit Thursday night but was unable to. The team is viewing his status at this point as "day-to-day."

Nationals select Spencer Kieboom
Game 40 lineups: Nats at Diamondbacks

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