Zimmerman to IL with foot injury, Rendon out again (tied 6-6)

Ryan Zimmerman is now on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. Anthony Rendon isn’t there yet, but if his elbow doesn’t heal real soon he may wind up off the active roster as well.

All of which leaves the Nationals with a makeshift lineup for today’s series finale against the Padres, a short bench and an extra bullpen arm in the form of Erick Fedde.

The official roster move made this morning: Zimmerman was placed on the 10-day IL with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, with Fedde recalled from Double-A Harrisburg. That gives the Nats an eight-man bullpen, with Fedde (who started for Harrisburg five days ago) available to pitch in long relief if needed today but unsure of his status beyond that.

zimmerman-receiving-throw-pickoff-gray-at-rockies-sidebar.jpgThe placement of Zimmerman on the IL comes five days after he landed hard making a leaping catch of Howie Kendrick’s high throw to first in Colorado, trying to elude a sliding Mark Reynolds in the process. Zimmerman, who was limping after the play but remained in the game to take two more at-bats, sat out Wednesday’s series finale but returned to play Friday and Saturday.

“He was dealing with it for a couple days, but yesterday it got really bad,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He went and got an MRI this morning, and it revealed some inflammation. He’s got plantar fasciitis.”

No timetable was offered for Zimmerman’s return, but Martinez said he’ll get treatment and the team will “keep him off his feet for 10 days.” For comparison’s sake, Zimmerman missed nearly seven weeks in 2015 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. This injury is to the other foot.

Rather than call up another position player on short notice to take Zimmerman’s spot, the Nationals elected to bring Fedde up from Harrisburg and give themselves an extra reliever for now. But with Rendon also sidelined yet again, the Nats are left with a three-man bench for today’s game: catcher Yan Gomes, infielder Wilmer Difo and outfielder Adam Eaton.

Rendon is out of the lineup for the sixth time in seven games, still feeling the effects of a pitch that struck him in the left elbow last weekend in Miami. The Nationals continue to diagnosis the injury as merely a contusion, which Martinez reiterated today, but his inability to play other than four plate appearances taken Friday night has cost the team.

Why wasn’t Rendon placed on the IL last week?

“It was one of those things where he had a contusion. It kind of went down,” Martinez said. “He played a day, and then the next day it swelled back up. It’s in a bad, bad spot. You have that little joint right there. He thought he was good, and then he came in the next day and took one swing and his elbow blew up a little bit.”

Trouble is, even if the Nationals put Rendon on the IL now, they can only backdate it to April 27 (the day after he last played). That would make him ineligible to return until May 7. Had they placed him on the IL on April 24 (then backdating it the maximum three days allowed), he would have been eligible to return May 1.

“We’re going to have to re-evaluate where he’s at,” Martinez said when asked what happens if Rendon still can’t play Monday. “Hopefully, today we don’t need him and he can (take the full day off) and we can get it to calm down.”

Rendon is hitting .356 with six homers, 18 RBIs, a .442 on-base percentage and 1.182 OPS in 20 games.

“We just want to make sure he’s right,” Martinez said. “He started off April really good, which he even said: ‘I never have good Aprils.’ We want to make sure when he comes back, he’s still doing real good.”

Update: They’ve played three innings here so far, and I guess it’s safe to say a lot has happened already. The Padres jumped out to a 6-0 lead on home runs by Greg Garcia and Eric Hosmer, plus some shaky defense and a whole lot of loud contact off Jeremy Hellickson, leaving many in the crowd here booing. But then the Nats stormed back to score four runs in the bottom of the third, with Juan Soto delivering a three-run blast to re-energize the crowd. The real dilemma, though, came when the Nats loaded the bases with two outs and the pitcher’s spot up for the second time in the inning. As Fedde warmed in the bullpen, Martinez stalled as long as long as he could before finally sending up Eaton to pinch-hit. Eaton wound up striking out, and that leaves the Nats with only two healthy bench players the rest of the way in what already is a wild ballgame.

Update II: And the Nats have completed the comeback. This game is now tied after five wild innings, thanks to some power from the kids. Soto already homered earlier. Then Victor Robles hit one off the top of the left field wall in the fourth. And then Carter Kieboom hit one to left in the fifth. That’s three homers by guys 21 or younger. Not bad. And with Fedde looking sharp so far out of the bullpen, this is a whole new game. It’s now 6-6.

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