Kendrick, Taylor will start spring opener; Gomes sent home sick

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - If there was any concern about the injuries Howie Kendrick and Michael A. Taylor spent the winter rehabbing from preventing them from participating fully in spring training, those fears should be quashed.

Both Kendrick (returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon) and Taylor (who suffered hip and oblique injuries this winter in the Dominican Republic) will be in Saturday night’s starting lineup for the Nationals’ Grapefruit League opener against the Astros.

The Nats weren’t overly concerned about either player’s ability to be ready for opening day next month, but they reported for spring training with at least some question about both players’ statuses for the early portion of camp. Both players have since answered those questions.

Kendrick, who only began running three weeks ago following surgery last May for his Achilles rupture, has impressed teammates, coaches and onlookers with his ability to participate in every drill and look as though nothing ever happened.

Kendrick-Chases-Grandal-Red-sidebar.jpgManager Davey Martinez admitted he didn’t expect this from Kendrick right out of the chute, but he has become convinced over the last week that the veteran utilityman is good to go and thus will start at second base in the spring opener.

“I watched him run the bases today,” Martinez said. “It’s the first day we ran the bases, and he was getting after it. There was no hesitation. There was no limping. He was in full force. And he made a point to tell me again that he was ready. So I just said: ‘OK, good. You’re playing second base Saturday.’ So he’s all excited about getting back on the field.”

Taylor revealed to reporters this morning he suffered a hip pointer and then an oblique strain while playing winter ball in the Dominican in early December. The Nationals, who knew about the injuries, have watched him closely early in camp. But Taylor has been a full participant and is ready to play in games.

“He’s good,” Martinez said. “As a matter of fact, I saw him today and he looks really good. To give you a heads up, he’ll play center field Saturday.”

The Nationals have thus far had a very healthy camp. All pitchers have been fully participating. No position players are being held back.

The only real news on the health front today was that Yan Gomes was sent home sick. Gomes, who believes his illness was the result of something he ate and that he’s not contagious, should be back in camp Friday. And Martinez said he’s scheduled to start behind the plate Saturday night, catching Max Scherzer.

Kurt Suzuki’s spring game debut won’t come until Tuesday when the Nationals host the Cardinals. The veteran catcher isn’t dealing with any injuries, but he told Martinez he’d prefer to wait a few days before making his first appearance. He’ll be paired up with right-hander Aníbal Sánchez, his batterymate with the Braves last season.

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