JUPITER, Fla. - The ingrown toenail bug has returned to wreak havoc on the Nationals clubhouse for the second time this spring.
OK, so that may be overdramatizing the situation a bit, but for the second time this month a key member of the Nats lineup had to undergo a procedure to remove an ingrown toenail. Earlier this spring it was Bryce Harper. Now it’s Trea Turner, who was scratched from today’s lineup against the Marlins and may need another day or two to heal before he can return to action.
“That’s been the trend of spring,” manager Davey Martinez said.
Harper dealt with this ailment three weeks ago and ultimately sat out three games (though one of those was a long road trip to Braves camp he wouldn’t have made even if healthy). He has been perfectly fine since his return.
Turner was originally listed in today’s lineup against the Marlins, but he departed FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in street clothes this morning and left for his appointment to have the toenail removed.
Martinez said it’s possible Turner will return to play Tuesday, but he may need to wait until Wednesday.
Meanwhile, even though the Nationals aren’t officially declaring Daniel Murphy out for opening day, they are making plans to account for his expected absence to begin the season.
Murphy, who had microfracture surgery on his right knee in late-October, continues to take batting practice and field ground balls during workouts but does not appear to be close to appearing in a game. And the club doesn’t intend to rush him back before he’s 100 percent ready.
“I just think that we have to be really careful with him, because of his legs,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “There’s not a hitter in baseball that utilizes his lower half more than him. That’s his whole key to hitting. It’s like a pitcher with a bad ankle. He’s got a bad ankle, so what does he do? He changes his mechanics and blows an elbow. So a hitter that’s not using his legs when he’s used to using his legs, I don’t want him compensating for something else and either changing the way he hits or injuring something else.”
Assuming Murphy opens the season on the disabled list, the Nationals are confident in either of their backup options: Howie Kendrick and Wilmer Difo. Martinez suggested both will get significant at-bats.
“They’ll split time,” he said. “I don’t want to kill any of these guys, but we’ll look at the matchups and information. They’re a big part of our success, so they’re going to get playing time.”
Martinez did say Kendrick likely will get all his work at second base for the time being, not in the outfield until Murphy is back.
Update: Max Scherzer’s second-to-last start of the spring was not one to brag about. The Marlins blasted the back-to-back Cy Young Award winner, scoring six runs in the first four innings behind three homers and another long drive that bounced off the center field fence. Garrett Cooper, Derek Dietrich and Brian Anderson all got Scherzer, with Miguel Rojas adding the aforementioned triple off the wall. On the bright side, Scherzer at least finished his afternoon on a high-note, striking out the side in the fifth to end with a pitch count either of 83 (according to the scoreboard) or 90 (according to the official scorer).
The Nationals have scored one run through six innings, that coming via an Anthony Rendon double and Moisés Sierra RBI single in the fourth. The most encouraging development of the day was Adam Eaton, who reached base in all three of his plate appearances (one walk, two singles) and twice got a chance to run the bases and slide (once feet-first, once head-first). In two Grapefruit League games, Eaton is now 3-for-4 with a walk.
The Nats trail 6-1 in the sixth.
Update II: The wind is blowing out today, and so is the ball. Though only when the Marlins are batting. Shawn Kelley gave up two homers in the bottom of the seventh, an eerie reminder of last season. That’s five homers by Miami hitters today. They lead 9-1.
Update III: The Nationals fall to the Marlins 9-1. They’ve lost the last two days in Jupiter by a combined score of 19-1.