Winker sits with left quad cramp, Thomas back in D.C. after rehab

Jesse Winker is out of the Nationals lineup today. Lane Thomas could be back in the Nationals lineup Monday.

Winker is sitting for the team’s series finale against the Mariners with a cramp in his left quad, an injury that forced his departure in the seventh inning of Saturday’s 3-1 victory.

“It basically was a cramp, but he’s still a little sore,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I talked to him this morning. He’s going to be available to pinch-hit today. I’d rather do that than have him go out there and something else happens. Let him get through the day, and then he can come off the bench and help us.”

Winker had an active day at the ballpark. He beat out a well-placed drag bunt for a single in the second inning. He singled to center and stole second in the seventh, then advanced to third on Keibert Ruiz’s bloop single to center.

Those final 90 feet, though, may have been too much for Winker, who didn’t look comfortable once he got to third base. The Nationals sent Victor Robles in to pinch-run for him in what at the time was still a 1-1 game. Robles would score the go-ahead run on Ildemaro Vargas’ grounder to short.

“He didn’t want to come out of the game yesterday,” Martinez said. “But we needed to score the run. But that’s typical with him. He just loves playing. He plays hard. I like it.”

If Winker indeed is feeling well enough to pinch-hit today and return to the lineup Monday, the Nationals won’t have any longer-term concern. But if he can’t do that, they could face an interesting decision Monday, but Thomas appears poised to come off the injured list.

Out since April 23 with an MCL sprain in his left knee, Thomas spent the week on a rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg. But after Saturday’s game was rained out, he drove back to D.C. and was back in the clubhouse at Nationals Park this morning.

Thomas was set to go through pregame drills, and if all went well, he would be cleared to fly with the team to Atlanta after the game.

“We’re going to put eyes on him today,” Martinez said. “He’s going to hit in the cage a little bit, hit off the velo machine and kind of go through his daily routine. And then we’ll make a decision probably tomorrow on what we’re going to do with him.”

If Thomas is activated off the 10-day IL, the Nationals will need to decide on a corresponding move to remove someone from the 26-man roster. Victor Robles, who is starting in center field today, has been a candidate to be designated for assignment for some time. Joey Meneses, who is batting third and serving as DH today, has been a candidate to be optioned to Triple-A Rochester.

The Winker quad issue, though, could come into play if it doesn’t heal as quickly as the club appears to believe it will. If he needed to go on the 10-day IL, it would buy the Nats some time before having to make a move with someone else.

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