PHOENIX - Despite their sudden influx of injuries, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he’s not likely to look outside the organization for outfield help before next week’s non-waiver trade deadline, believing at least some of his regulars will be back in early to mid-August.
Jayson Werth (fractured left foot) and Michael A. Taylor (strained right oblique) are both on the disabled list, with Werth transferred to the 60-day DL this morning. Chris Heisey (strained groin) was placed on the 10-day DL today. Ryan Raburn will miss at least three days while on bereavement leave.
But with Bryce Harper and Brian Goodwin healthy, newly promoted prospect Andrew Stevenson now here and available, and the others on the mend, Rizzo feels comfortable proceeding with his outfield as currently constructed.
“I think we have confidence in the guys we have, and as long as the core of our lineup is healthy and hitting on all cylinders, I think we can make it through until Jayson and Michael get better,” the GM said. “I don’t see that being too far of a distance.”
Rizzo didn’t provide a hard timeline for the injured players to return, but Werth will be eligible to come off the 60-day DL on Aug. 3. He’ll need more time than that because he still can’t run at full speed, but he has been taking batting practice with the club during this road trip.
Shortstop Trea Turner, meanwhile, is rehabbing his fractured left wrist in West Palm Beach and is on schedule, with an important test coming up in a few days.
“Trea’s doing well,” Rizzo said. “He’s doing all his activities down in Florida. He hasn’t done any baseball stuff yet, but we’re going to evaluate him when we get back to D.C on Tuesday. I think he’ll get another X-ray, and we’ll see how the break is healing.”
Taylor has not resumed baseball activities but is rehabbing with the club on the road.
“I think certain guys are closer than others, but bones heal at their own pace,” Rizzo said. “So we have two broken bones that have to be repaired. There’s no rush and there’s no timetable on those. You can’t rush them, and you can’t place a timetable on it, but it’s looking more and more like the first week or two of August we should start getting some guys back.”
Update: Outfield problem? What outfield problem? The Nats didn’t look like they had an outfield problem in the top of the first today. Goodwin led off the game with a homer off the batter’s eye in center field. Wilmer Difo (starting in left field and batting second) followed with a single, and Harper followed that with his own single. Ryan Zimmerman drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, then Anthony Rendon and Jose Lobaton turned in RBI singles to give the Nationals a four-run outburst against All-Star lefty Robbie Ray.
Handed that 4-0 lead, Stephen Strasburg labored in the bottom of the first but got out of it without allowing a run and keeping his pitch count to 22. He continued to labor a bit in the bottom of the second, issuing back-to-back, two-out walks to the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, but he got out of the jam unscathed. That said, he has thrown 51 pitches already, not ideal with a four-run lead.
Update II: Uh-oh, Strasburg has been pulled from the game after only two innings. There didn’t appear to be anything obviously wrong with him while he was out there; his velocity was fine, though his command was off throughout. The Nationals don’t provide in-game injury updates, so we’ll all be left to speculate for the next couple of hours until the game is over. Until then, it’ll be Matt Grace to take the first of what will be many legs out of the bullpen today.
Update III: Grace did yeoman’s work but tired in his third inning out of the pen. Two runs came across before Dusty Baker made the move to Joe Blanton, who came through big with a strikeout of Paul Goldschmidt and then a groundball from Chris Owings to end the fifth inning with a 5-2 lead intact.
Update IV: The good news: Difo homered in the top of the seventh to stretch the lead to 6-2. The bad news: Enny Romero, who had pitched well for 1 2/3 innings, had to be pulled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh with an apparent injury. And then, after Matt Albers entered, Jose Lobaton’s left knee gave out as he tried to get in position to catch a strike, requiring a visit from the trainer. Lobaton stayed in, Albers struck out Chris Herrmann, and somehow the Nats still lead 6-2 after seven innings.
Update V: The Nats won 6-2.