Glover reveals shoulder injury, leaving his return uncertain

It doesn’t appear Koda Glover will be pitching for the Nationals anytime soon. And that could dramatically impact the way general manager Mike Rizzo approaches next month’s trade deadline.

Glover revealed today he has “severe inflammation of the rotator cuff and two strains” in his right shoulder, an injury he admits he had been dealing with prior to landing on the disabled list 2 1/2 weeks ago with lower back stiffness.

Koda-Glover-throw-gray-sidebar.jpgThere is no concrete timetable for Glover’s return, but the reliever hasn’t been cleared to start throwing yet and said that even though his back is no longer a problem, he still has pain in his shoulder.

“It’s obviously frustrating,” he said. “You want to play. It’s what you wake up to do. It’s your job. But it’s one of them things where it’s kind of out of your control. I’m just doing what I can to get healthy and be back as soon as possible.”

The Nationals had not revealed Glover’s shoulder ailments previously, listing only the back stiffness as cause for his placement on the 10-day DL on June 11. The club had not provided any substantial updates since, with manager Dusty Baker on Tuesday saying only that the pitcher had not yet resumed throwing.

Approached by reporters in the clubhouse prior to batting practice this afternoon, Glover shared the details of his multiple ailments and how they came about.

The 24-year-old rookie said he first started feeling a problem in his shoulder prior to the Nationals’ West Coast trip that began Memorial Day in San Francisco. He pitched through that, recording three saves with 3 2/3 scoreless innings of work during that long road trip, sandwiched around a five-run implosion in Oakland on June 4.

“I guess my pain tolerance is pretty high,” he said. “I didn’t really know what was sore, what was hurt. Nothing was really hurt, I thought, so I just kept pitching. Over time, I guess it just broke down, so my body broke down with it, the overcompensation.”

After the Nationals returned home, Glover began to have a stiff back; he now admits that was a result of overcompensating for his shoulder pain. He blew a save June 10 against the Rangers, then the following day was placed on the DL after reporting he threw out his back in the shower.

“Before the back went out, I had felt it in the shower, went to the trainers, got worked on, and they loosened it up enough to where I was able to go out that day,” he said. “And I think pitching that day just made it worse. Knowing that my back went out, the next day I couldn’t even lift my arm. So now we’re dealing with the shoulder.”

Glover said he underwent an MRI on his shoulder, which showed “severe inflammation of the rotator cuff and two strains, and a couple of this and that.”

“It’s not really a huge deal,” he added. “But the inflammation, we’re still waiting for it to go away. I’m just glad I’m able to move my arm.”

Glover’s brief major league career has been plagued by physical ailments as much as it has featured dominant late-inning performance on the mound. Drafted in 2015 out of Oklahoma State, he appeared in only 59 minor league games over parts of two seasons before the Nationals promoted him to the majors last summer.

Glover had to be shut down last September due to a labrum tear in his left hip, preventing him from pitching in the postseason. He also spent time on the DL earlier this year when the hip acted up, though upon returning from that injury he ascended to the Nationals’ closer job, getting eight saves in nine opportunities.

Now the club can’t say for sure when he’ll return, leaving Rizzo in an even tougher position than he had already found himself. With one of the majors’ least effective bullpens, Rizzo’s task is to remake the unit in midseason via a combination of trades, bargain-basement signings (Francisco Rodriguez), promotions from the minors (perhaps Erick Fedde and Wander Suero) and the return to form of at least some members of his current bullpen.

If Glover could be counted on to be one of those in-house options to hold down a late-inning role, the Nationals might not feel the need to make multiple trade attempts before the July 31 deadline. Now, they may feel compelled to do more, with other clubs well aware of the dilemma that leaves them in this desperate situation.

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