WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A little after 8 a.m., Nick Lee walked into the Nationals clubhouse at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, popped his backpack off his shoulder and onto the chair in front of his locker stall, and stored his keys in his lockbox.
If not for the fact that his left arm was wrapped in a bandage and encased in a black sling, there was no hint that today was any different than any other in spring training.
Lee is recovering from what manager Dusty Baker called a non-displaced fracture of his left elbow.
“He’s supposed to go north today to see our doctors and to make an evaluation exactly what they’re going to do for him,” Baker said.
One pitch after surrendering a game-tying homer to the Cardinals’ Patrick Wisdom in Jupiter on Sunday, Lee walked off the mound at Roger Dean Stadium, head athletic trainer Paul Lessard by his side.
“We knew it was something because of the way he was kind of grimmacing the other day,” Baker said. “But we didn’t know the severity of it. Fortunately, it’s not any ligament damage or anything like that. There’s a clear fracture. It’s straight across. Like I said, I’m not a doctor, but they said that that was probably as good as it could get.”
Asked Tuesday to explain how his arm felt after throwing his final pitch Sunday, Lee said, “It’s hard to explain. It didn’t feel right. It was like halfway through the throw and my arm felt like Jell-O toward the end.”
There was hopeful news after the initial MRI, Lee said.
“They said that structurally, it’s OK,” he said. “I’m happy about that. It could be worse.”
But more tests are ahead. Lee said he was scheduled to get a second MRI this morning, and that he hoped to have a better idea of what he was facing in terms of a recovery period once those diagnostic results were digested.
Still, his spring training appears to be over, and his 2017 season is in jeopardy.
“I’ll be out for a quality amount of time,” Lee said. “It could have been worse. So it sounds - I’m not a doctor. They’re throwing all these words at me I’ve never heard.”
A teammate walked by Lee in the hallway outside the Nationals clubhouse and asked for a status update. Lee gave him a thumbs-down signal.
Lee, 26, was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and started working out of the bullpen full-time in 2015. Last season, he was 3-1 with a 4.32 ERA and two saves in 45 appearances for Double-A Harrisburg.