Gomes sits for third straight day, Sunday starter still TBD

Yan Gomes is out of the Nationals lineup for the third straight day with a tight right hamstring, and until the veteran catcher can comfortably squat behind the plate for an entire game without being hindered, he’ll remain out of the Nationals lineup.

“This is going to be a day-to-day thing with him,” manager Davey Martinez said in his Zoom session with reporters before today’s game in Philadelphia. “The position he plays, with him squatting and stuff, I just want to make sure that he can do that for nine innings.”

Gomes hasn’t been able to do that since Wednesday night, when he felt tight running the bases during a 5-3 win in Atlanta that was keyed by his eighth-inning homer. He already was scheduled to take Thursday afternoon’s series finale off, but when Alex Avila again started Friday night against the Phillies, the injury came to light.

Gomes-Swings-Gray-Sidebar.jpgNow Gomes is out of the lineup for the third straight day, though Martinez said there have been signs of progress in the last 24 hours.

“He went out there today and ran on it a little bit. He said he felt a lot better than he did yesterday,” the manager said. “He tried to run yesterday, he said he couldn’t really do it. So he felt better today, and hopefully by this afternoon with a couple more rounds of treatment, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

If Gomes can’t go Sunday, Avila would start three straight days for the first time since July 2020 with the Twins. Monday’s off-day before the Nationals conclude their road trip with a two-game series at the Rays provides an opportunity for some more time for Gomes to rest if needed.

When Gomes does return, though, Martinez may find himself needing to monitor his playing time a bit more closely. The 33-year-old has turned into a workhorse this season, starting 34 of the first 49 games he was on the active roster. Wednesday represented his fifth straight day catching.

“We’ll see how he feels once he gets back, but I want to be very cautious with him until he feels 100 percent,” Martinez said. “But he came into my office today and said: ‘After this, don’t be afraid to put me out there every day. I’ll be fine.’ He wants to play every day. I told him, ‘We’ll just keep an eye on it, and if you feel like you need a day, we’ll give you a day.’ And Alex is doing fine, too.”

* Erick Fedde will make his third attempt at a rehab start for Single-A Wilmington this afternoon after the last two nights’ games there were postponed. It’s become an agonizing wait for Fedde, who has been on the COVID-19 injured list since learning 2 1/2 weeks ago he had tested positive for the virus despite being vaccinated and remaining asymptomatic throughout.

The Nationals have been determined to give Fedde at least one full rehab start of five or more innings before they activate him, but this has disrupted their plans for a rotation that is now in need of a replacement for the injured Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg’s turn comes Sunday, so it won’t be Fedde making that start. The club has yet to officially decide who will be pitching, but Martinez reiterated it depends how the staff gets through today’s game.

If Joe Ross is able to provide innings and keep long relievers Austin Voth and Paolo Espino from appearing, the Nationals could go with a bullpen game Sunday, with one or both of those right-handers providing the bulk of the innings.

If Ross can’t go deep and one or both of those guys are needed today, the Nats are making plans to call up a fresh pitcher from Triple-A Rochester. Their options include left-hander Ben Braymer and right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who is not on the 40-man roster but could easily be added if the club transfers reliever Will Harris (who needs thoracic outlet surgery) to the 60-day IL.

“We’re going to play this game as normal and try to get a win, and then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do next,” Martinez said. “We have ideas, whatever happens, whether we go bullpen day or we’ve got some things we’re prepared for. But our focus is to win today.”

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