Pregame injury updates from Colorado (Nats down 6-3)

DENVER - Some injury updates for you before the Nationals and Rockies wrap up their three-game series ...

* Anthony Rendon is out of the lineup for the fourth straight game with a bruised left elbow, but the Nationals remain optimistic about their third baseman and believe he’s on the verge of returning to action.

Rendon-Fields-Gray-Sidebar.jpgRendon, who hasn’t played since he was struck by a pitch Saturday night in Miami, has taken swings in the batting tunnel each of the last two days. He had seen enough improvement last night to let the coaching staff know he was available to play third base if needed, but he never did appear in the 6-3 victory.

“We just were reluctant to put him in, in case he had to dive or something,” manager Davey Martinez said. “But if we need him today, he’s available. He said: ‘If I can, I want to try to pinch-hit.’ So that would be great if he could do it.”

If Rendon doesn’t appear today, he would hope to make his return to the lineup Friday night against the Padres. That would be six days after the injury occurred. If the Nationals decided at that point he needed to be placed on the injured list, the transaction could only be backdated three days.

In other words, the Nats had better be confident Rendon’s ready to go Friday.

* Ryan Zimmerman is also out of the lineup after landing hard on his heel making a leaping catch at first base last night, but Martinez said he had planned to give the veteran today off all along. With a quick turnaround to today’s matinee and then an off-day at home, Martinez thought it would be a good idea to give Zimmerman a full 48 hours off.

Matt Adams, who drilled a double off a left-hander last night, gets the start at first base today against Rockies right-hander German Márquez.

The play occurred in the bottom of the fifth, when Zimmerman had to leap to catch a high throw from Howie Kendrick, then had to watch his landing as Mark Reynolds slid into first base. He was limping a bit afterward, and though he took two more at-bats and reached base both times, he didn’t run the bases at full speed.

“He’s said his heel’s bothering him a little bit, but he said he thinks in two days he’ll feel fine,” Martinez said. “He told me he’s available to pinch-hit or whatever we need him for.”

* Max Scherzer, for now, is on track to start Friday night. Martinez didn’t have official confirmation of that when he met with reporters pregame, though, because Scherzer hadn’t yet thrown a planned 20-pitch bullpen session to test his left rib cage.

Scherzer strained that rib cage dodging a foul ball in the dugout Sunday at Miami. He threw 20 pitches off the mound yesterday and said things went well, but he wouldn’t know for sure he was good to make his next start until he threw again today and saw how his side reacted.

For now, the Nationals have Scherzer listed as Friday’s starter, with Stephen Strasburg on Saturday and Jeremy Hellickson on Sunday. The Padres are sending three left-handers to the mound this weekend: Matt Strahm, Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi.

* Justin Miller is beginning a rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac today. The reliever, out since April 13 with a lower back strain, will need to appear in back-to-back games before the Nationals activate him off the injured list, according to Martinez.

Update: It’s been a wild one already at Coors Field today. Only three innings in, we’ve already seen seven combined runs, a homer, a bunch of extra-base hits and some shaky defense. The Nats jumped out to a 3-0 lead, thanks to second-inning doubles by Adams and Jake Noll (his first career major league hit) and a two-run homer by Juan Soto in the top of the third. But Aníbal Sánchez gave up four runs in the bottom of the inning, though not without some help. The Rockies racked up three hits and three walks (one intentional) during the frame, but there were three balls misplayed to varying degrees as well. Soto took a bad route on Trevor Story’s leadoff drive to left-center, turning it into a triple. Noll, Soto and Wilmer Difo saw David Dahl’s blooper into shallow left field fall in for a double that could’ve been the third out of the inning. And in the biggest misplay, Adam Eaton broke in on Raimel Tapia’s smoked liner to right and couldn’t recover to make a leaping catch. The ball sailed over his head, and three runs scored, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead after three eventful innings.

Update II: The bottom of the third was bad for the Nats, but so was the bottom of the fourth. Sánchez was rocked around more, giving up two more runs, one on a Charlie Blackmon homer on an 0-2 curveball that didn’t come close to hitting its intended target. Sánchez wound up facing 17 total batters in the third and fourth innings. And though he did retire the side in the fifth, he’s probably done now at 98 total pitches and with the Nats trailing 6-3.

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