Mercer returns from IL, Sanchez designated for assignment

The Nationals got another veteran back on their roster for the season’s final weeks, activating infielder Jordy Mercer after a lengthy stint on the 10-day injured list before tonight’s series opener against the Marlins.

Mercer, who hadn’t played since straining his left calf muscle July 20 against Miami, returns to the active roster after a brief rehab appearance with Double-A Harrisburg last week. The 35-year-old played in three games for the Senators, going 3-for-9 with two walks and three strikeouts.

Thumbnail image for Mercer-Swings-Blue-Sidebar.jpgA member of the Nationals’ opening day roster, Mercer played in 37 games before suffering his injury, hitting .267 with five doubles, one homer, four RBIs, a .315 on-base percentage and a .676 OPS while playing all four infield positions (plus serving as a fifth infielder - but officially as the left fielder - for one batter at the end of an 11-inning loss to the Yankees on May 8).

Mercer’s versatility also extended to the dugout after he suffered his injury. With a majority of the Nationals coaching staff in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 in late July and early August, he actually served as manager Davey Martinez’s honorary bench coach for several days, taking the lineup card to the plate for the pregame meeting with umpires.

To make room for Mercer on the active roster, the Nats designated fellow infielder Adrián Sanchez for assignment, a tough development for the organization’s second-longest tenured player.

Sanchez, 31, had been on the big league club since Mercer got hurt and played in 16 games, batting .257 with two doubles, one RBI, a .316 on-base percentage and a .630 OPS. He started at third base Sunday in Pittsburgh and went 2-for-4 with a double.

Because he’s out of options, Sanchez had to be designated for assignment, which removes him from the Nationals’ 40-man roster. He could now be claimed off waivers by another team or outrighted to Triple-A, though as a veteran, he could refuse the assignment and become a free agent.

Only Ryan Zimmerman has been in the organization longer than Sanchez, who signed with the Nationals as a 16-year-old from Venezuela in January 2007. He spent a decade in the minors before finally making his big league debut in 2017, then spent the next three seasons shuttling back and forth between Washington and the club’s minor league affiliates.

Sanchez missed the entire 2020 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon. He became a free agent last fall but quickly re-signed a minor league contract with the Nationals and played this season at Triple-A Rochester before his late July call-up.

The Nationals also returned right-hander Steven Fuentes from a rehab assignment, reinstated him from the 60-day IL and optioned him to Rochester. Fuentes had been out since early July with a shoulder strain.

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