Nationals Baseball: Injury Update

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Injury Update

As we hit the half-way point of March, everyone is coming around to the "it's getting late early" viewpoint regarding the Nats injuries.  Not much has changed for the guys that we talked about before but a couple new things have sprung up that we need to talk about.

For reference - the Nats have a day off today and 12 Spring Training games remaining. This includes a game against the Twins on the 27th at Nationals Park. Opening Day is early this year - Thursday the 29th.

First the easy updates that require no rethought about timing, the good and expected news:

Matt Adams - foot blister
What you wanted to see - Him playing by Saturday
What you saw - Him playing on Sunday and has been playing since.

Bryce Harper - ingrown toenail
What you wanted to see - Him playing before Monday
What you saw - He played on Saturday and has been playing since.

and the bad and expected news :

Koda Glover - recovering from shoulder issues
What you wanted to see - On the mound sometime during Spring.
What you saw - No update.

Joe Ross - recovering from Tommy John
What you wanted to see - Probably just 90 feet before Spring is out. I think that would be enough. We're still far out here so there's a lot of leeway.
What you saw - No update

Now the more detailed updates

Adam Eaton - recovering from a torn ACL.
What you wanted to see - As soon as he plays a game it's good. Until then you'd like to see some sort of ramping up and at least one "any day now" kind of message about when we'll see him play.
What you saw - We've gotten the "very soon" talk and he is ramping up taking "running it out" BP and he maybe even hit in some mysterious "minor league games". Still he hasn't played the field as far as anyone knows.
What adjustment - The fact he hasn't played the field is worry some but I'll stick by my previous "deadline" of being in a line-up by March 19th before adjusting anything. That would give him 8 games of at bats. Not ideal but we're looking for a minimum here.
What you want to see - Him playing no later than Monday

Daniel Murphy - recovering from knee surgery
What you want to see - Just a progression. I think you'd want him doing real baseball activities, taking batting practice, fielding balls while, you know, standing up, sometime before the end of Spring. Once he can do those things, then you can worry about doing it at full speed and then it's about rounding yourself into shape. If we're taking Eaton as a guide that's probably a month or so buildup.
What you saw - A progression. He's taken batting practice first in the cage and now on the field, and yesterday began to field standing up. He's still not running let alone jogging things out so there's still a way to go but there hasn't been a major setback. 
What adjustment - No adjustment. I still think late April (after the 20th) is the best deadline
What you want to see - Let's see I probably will update this again around the end of ST so by then you'd like to see Murphy doing some jogging/running balls out and maybe some lateral fielding. Basically you'd like to see him in position to start playing games in the minors when those teams start up (around the 6th of April)

And the new guys

Michael Taylor  - mild tightness on the right side of his torso
Team Says - He'll be back "soon"
Seen - He's taking running out BP with Adam.
What adjustment - We're assuming he will be ready for OD. MAT doesn't need the same amount of prep as Eaton since he, you know, played baseball past April of last year, and got some games in early in Spring Training.  I don't see any reason to think that isn't going to happen so no adjustment now.
What you want to see - I'll set the deadline for him at that last weekend - the 24th or so.

Ryan Zimmerman - ????
Team Says - They are just giving him rest to not wear out his body for the long haul of the season
Seen - He played one game to start Spring Training and hasn't played since. He's taking at bats on back fields. He hasn't fielded or worked on baserunning.
What adjustment - This depends. So what this sounds like is a recurrence of the plantar fascitis in his foot. For your review this plauged him in 2015 and the beginning of 2016. The way that this works is your foot hurts especially when you are striking down on your heel so hitting is easier on you than running. It also is aggravated by long periods of standing which is why taking the field is out. How do you heal? You rest and you hope it goes away. That's basically it. You can do physical therapy, get orthotics, ice it down, but really you are just waiting it out and it's usually months, not weeks.

You can play through it but the constant pain takes a toll on you mentally.This is often cited as the reason Zimm was so bad in 2016.  Given we know nothing about how bad it is and pressuming it started up at the start of Spring Training I'm going to say it's a 2 month thing and he's out until May but there is huge variability here just in the way the injury works (let alone the fact I am not a doctor, haven't seen Ryan up close, and have no idea what I think it takes to get him ready. I'm just saying things*). Right now, I would slate Ryan OUT for Opening Day.
What you want to see - Any mention of Zimm running or fielding. They won't do this unless they think he can do it without pain. Since he hasn't played yet, you'd like to see this before the middle of next week, but you can probably press it to the last weekend if you must since he's presumably getting hitting in, just not hitting and running.

*I know I say "you can't just say things" but you can just say things if you say you are just saying things. And I'm just saying things.


Josh Higham said...

I don't like Zim not playing (not in the sense of he should play hurt, but that I don't like that he can't), but of all the regulars to miss extended time in the first half, he's not an awful one. Leaves the Nats extra thin until Murphy is ready, but if Zim is out for a month or more after Murphy, like you're spitballing here, Murphy can ease his way back spending some time at first. Say, 1 day off a week and 1 day at first against a lefty, so he's only playing 4 games at second a week. Howie and Difo can spell them both for rest/matchup purposes.

It's not ideal, but if Zim's got a sore foot, the Nats can absorb that loss for a while. Then you just have to hope he finds his ever elusive timing in his rehab stint.

blovy8 said...

Given what the projections think of Zim, they may even be better off with an Adams/Kendrick platoon, with Difo playing second against LH.

blovy8 said...

The OBA at first would be pretty similar, apx .340-.345. And as clumsy as Adams is, he's graded out as fairly average defensively, while the fielding metrics HATE Zim. I guess if one of them goes down and Marmalejos has to play you'd worry, but he's seems like a competent below-average replacement if it's short term.

Josh Higham said...

Off topic, but Fangraphs just put up a post about how good Giolito looks and I'm a little sad.

KW said...

Right now, I'm less worried about the walking wounded than I am about the feeble efforts of their expected backups, particularly guys like Difo (.091) and Goodwin (.154), not to mention the backup catcher "battle" between Severino (.200) and Montero (.176). Goodwin is out of options and likely will still make the team, and he did have a solid two-out RBI hit Tuesday night. Difo and Severino are at real risk of being sent down, though. Difo's INF competitors aren't exactly tearing it up, however, including Reynolds (.217), Sanchez (.200), and Brignac (.211).

As for Murphy and Zim, the Nats have solid reserves in Kendrick and Adams. But if those guys are playing every day, some of the other bench folks need to step up.

Froggy said...

Possibility that Zim won't be available for Opening Day? Whew, good thing we still got Adam Lind to fill in.


sirc said...

Lind is available again. I don't understand how at least 10 of the AL teams haven't offered him a DH gig. The man can rake, at least against 75% of the game's pitchers.

blovy8 said...

The Nats signing Lind is how you would know if Zim is really hurt...

Josh Higham said...

Lind doesn't offer anything that Adams doesn't. The Nats would only sign Lind if they wanted two first basemen you cannot trot out against lefties.

KW said...

I loved what Lind did for the team last year, but Adams is younger and really seems to be buying everything that Kevin Long is selling, including drills to help him hit lefties better.

Robot said...

Stick a fork in that Zim guy. He's done-zo! We'll see him sometime in June and he'll put up an .062 OBP for about three months until the Nats resign Papelbon at the trade deadline for the sole purpose of choking him on Fan Appreciation Day.

Adam VB said...

So what you're saying is we can probably expect an Opening Day Lineup like:

1.) Turner - 6
2.) Difo - 4
3.) Harper - 9
4.) Rendon - 5
5.) Adams - 3
6.) Wieters - 2
7.) Taylor - 8
8.) Pitcher - 1
9.) Goodwin - 7

At least the defense is solid... :/

(How often did Maddon have the P hit 8th?)

Anonymous said...

Too bad you posted this before Rizzo gave an interview on these very topics.

I'm less bearish than you on Zim's (theorized) injury, but as others have pointer out, Adams is a perfectly capable fill in (and may even be better against Righties).

It sounds like the team is confident about Eaton - he's supposed to get in games this weekend. And Kendrick should be playing 2B if Murphy starts the season on the DL.

The Nats have many important players, but four are more important than the rest: Harper, Rendon, Scherzer, and Strasburg. They can withstand injuries to multiple others if these guys stay healthy. Let's knock on wood in hoping that they do.

Rizzo's comments about Glover were...not encouraging.