The news this week that Espinosa will be playing through a torn rotator cuff this season and that Jayson Werth’s wrist is still not back at full strength certainly caused more than a little concern. Let’s not forget that Zim is coming off offseason shoulder surgery, and that Stras is not all that far removed from his Tommy John procedure. On the bright side, I can speak from experience that it is possible to play through a torn labrum, assuming you are not a pitcher. I had a torn labrum and rotator cuff for many years and only finally got it repaired 14 months ago (although often referred to interchangeably, they are not exactly the same injury). The rehab was brutal, and makes me even more impressed that LaRoche went through it and then came back last season and put up the numbers that he did. Hopefully Danny can keep his shoulder strong and play through the injury. If not though, Davey must not hesitate to play Lombo. He should at least see some increased time there to give Espinosa a rest more often.
As for Werth, I actually liked him as a leadoff hitter. Wrist injury or not, I think his days of hitting 25+ homers per year are over. I’m fine with him in the 6th spot if Span lives up to expectations. But for all the heat I’ve given Werth, he is a smart player. He took a lot of pitches (and walks) in that role, when I’m sure he would have rather been swinging the bat. Working a pitch count, and letting other players see what pitches a guy throws in a particular count, is a valuable skill that does not show up in a stat sheet. Not to mention his stalling tactics when there are 2 outs and the pitcher just batted. Team player. They should not hesitate to put him back at leadoff if Span need a day off or spends any time on the DL.
The hot start by our Nationals this spring has gradually turned into a 7 game losing streak. Most worrisome, the patchwork of starting pitchers have pretty much all turned in their worst outings of the spring recently. While part of that is due to hitters finding their rhythm later in the spring than pitchers, I can only hope our starting five regain some form and also some confidence. Some offensive outbursts by the team around them would help in the confidence regard as well. I just hope they do not try and pick up Oliver Perez now that he has been released by the Mets. I’d rather give some of our youngsters an opportunity to show what they’ve got instead.
By the way, even though I was in favor of keeping Dunn this past offseason, it certainly looks like we ended up with the better of the 3 first basemen we were targeting over the winter. LaRoche is expected to be his usual consistent self and has hit .343 so far, while Derrek Lee just played in his first spring training game, and concerns linger about thumb, wrist, and potentially foot injuries. Carlos Lee has been fine so far for the Cubs, but looking at the three of them right now, I’m glad we ended up with LaRoche.
Josh Willingham: I was hoping that talk of him playing first base was just a crazy idea from Bill Ladson, but the fact that Willingham has commented on it means the team has at least floated the idea. I’ve already mentioned how ridiculous this is. He said he could learn how to field ground balls in spring training. So we want to replace Dunn with someone who has to learn how to field ground balls again? Who is much shorter than Dunn and coming off of an injury? Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy, but I want to start winning at some point. Also, you heard it here first, but that knee will be a problem again next season for Willingham. He injured it back in the summer. They said it was a meniscus tear. Now they are saying he will begin baseball activities again around Christmas time. Conversely, Brandon Banks of the Redskins had a meniscus tear and subsequent surgery on November 3rd. He is suiting up and playing tonight again the eagles. It’s football. He gets hit on the knee every time to has the ball. He weighs 150 pounds.
Something else is wrong with Willingham’s knee. The only silver lining is that Morse may end up playing first base and given a chance to get his bat in the lineup every day.
Also, I hope the Nats’ “attempt” to sign Lee does not keep receiving press. Hopefully he’ll just sign with the Yankees or Rangers quickly and get it over with. There is zero chance that he would sign with us. They are just going to make him an offer as a PR move for the team. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but it’s just sad to predict and then watch another offseason unfold like this. I hope team ownership proves me wrong.
It’s a great day to be a Nats Fan…4 games over .500, Bernadina possibly finding his groove, Strasburg pitching a no-hitter through 6. Gotta love it. I realized that I hadn’t written a post in while when I read today that Jason Marquis is going to have surgery to repair bone chips in his elbow. The I thought, hey, I called that out in my last post 3 weeks ago. I’m still kind of amazed they let him waste 3 weeks trying to cure it with rest. As Rizzo was quoted as saying, “It didn’t work, so it set us back for about three weeks.” C’mon Mike, you’re better than that. I’m sure he’s mad at himself for letting Marquis convince him he could work through it.
Back to Strasburg, if they keep him pitching every 5th day, that would potentially have him starting on July 6 at home vs the Reds. Expect a sellout at the ballpark.
I have to say I’m as pleased as anyone that the Nats are at .500 after 16 games and have been flirting with a winning record lately. We’ve got a lot of hot bats, and if we can just get more stability in our starting pitching, we’d be in really solid shape. Speaking of which, I’m going to say it here first that Marquis’ season may be a wash. He claimed he was having some mechanical problems, then the team says he has bone chips in his elbow, and that it’s hard to pitch with bone chips in the elbow. But now they’re saying he won’t need surgery? Either he’s not really hurt and they’re taking him away for while to work on his mechanics, or else he’s legitimately hurt and needs surgery. We already went through this with Stammen, where he pitched through bone chips last season and had negative results. He got them removed in the off-season, and to date he appears much improved. Marquis already said his arm stiffened up from it last week. A cortisone shot and rest and rehab does not cure bone chips. It’s not the same thing as a muscle strain. Let’s get them taken out and get him back healthy in 6-8 weeks.