Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bullpen decisions coming

A string of injuries has forced the Nationals to reshuffle their bullpen several times over the last month, but the day is coming when those injured relievers all make their return, leaving the organization facing more reshuffling dilemmas.

Closer Drew Storen was back at Nationals Park today to be checked on by team doctors and trainers and said his rehab from elbow surgery continues to progress well.

"Everything feels great," Storen said. "Every day I've taken a step forward."

Storen worked out at the Nationals' spring training complex in Viera, Fla., last week and continued his throwing program today at Nationals Park, throwing off flat ground for the second straight day for the first time since he had surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow in April.

The right-hander expects to start throwing off a mound in the "next couple weeks" and then should be able to begin a rehab assignment shortly after that. He continues to target the All-Star break for his return from the disabled list.

Brad Lidge, meanwhile, was back in Washington today after making his first rehab appearance last night for Class A Potomac. The outing didn't go all that well -- Lidge retired only one of four batters faced and threw only 10 of 22 pitches for strike -- but the veteran said his arm felt strong and he believes his command will continue to improve as he makes more appearances.

Lidge is scheduled to pitch for Potomac again Wednesday and Friday, at which point the Nationals will decide whether he's ready to come off the DL.

Ryan Mattheus also is moving closer to a return from the DL after missing the last two weeks with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The right-hander initially hoped he would miss only the minimum 15 days required for a DL stint, but the club would like him to take things slower. He was scheduled to throw his first bullpen session today.

Who loses their spot in the bullpen when those three pitchers are ready to come back? The Nationals could face some difficult decisions.

Their current relief corps is a bit out of whack, with four left-handers (Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny, Ross Detwiler and Michael Gonzalez) and only three right-handers (Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Henry Rodriguez).

Gonzalez was promoted Sunday after making only one appearance at Class AAA Syracuse -- he had an "out" clause in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent if the Nationals didn't call him up by mid-June -- and has faith he'll perform well enough to merit a long-term stay.

"If I'm pitching well, I don't have to worry about anything else," the veteran lefty said. "I'm pretty sure that's how every one of these guys is taking it as well. That's [the front office's] headache to worry about, not really ours as ballplayers. I know if I'm out there and throwing the way I want to throw, I don't need to worry about it."

Rodriguez has struggled mightily -- his ERA over his last 14 games is 8.49, and he's put 19 men on base over his last 11 2/3 innings -- and is now only being used in low-pressure situations. He would seem a logical candidate for demotion, but he's out of options and would have to clear waivers before being sent to the minors.


Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Best three words I've heard today:

"Everything feels great," Storen said.

Come back, pal. We miss ya.

SCNatsFan said...

I've been in Henry's corner but I think its time for him to magically tweak his groin unless he wants to move from DC to another organization

Manassas Nats' Fan said...

If Lidge doesn't improve in the next two outings I would assume he is not ready to come back. Wangs had 30 days to rehab. Do starters get longer than relievers?

Positively Half St. said...

It seems that Rizzo has to shift gears from draft mode to trade mode.


peric said...

Again, as I stated before this all by design ... Davey's design.

He wants a lefty long guy to come in after his right-handed starters. To throw off any "skewed" batting orders the managers throw up there. Because let's face it, the Nats have a great starting rotation, (sans Wang the jury is still waaaaaaaaaaaay out on that guy except in Taiwan), managers will be looking for ways to get every advantage.

If the lefty medium/long guy comes in for the righty, the opposition managers may have to use their bench early.

This serves to help Davey manage ... its not necessarily an artifact of injuries, etc.

SCNatsFan said...

I don't know, Lidge sounds like he's throwing in Potomac just like he was throwing here

baseballswami said...

Lidge needs the whole 30 days I think.

phil dunton said...

I have absolutely no problem with Henry disappearing.

phil dunton said...

Same goes for Lidge, who is washed up.

rogieshan said...

Why not just send Maldonado down first? No one knows if Lidge can be effective when he returns. Give him a week up here and then decide which pitcher to delete.

JaneB said...

It was nice to see Storen in the dugout tonight. It will be a grand day when he comes back,

Scooter said...

lol delete

Tcostant said...

I agree, send Maldonado down for Lidge (and what the rush, more rehab time is good). Then HRod will be found to gave a "tired arm" and go on the DL when Mattheus needs to come off the DL.

Doc said...

Maldonado goes down, and MPHRod goes on the DL for recurring psychological stress. That should free up two positions.

Having 3 C's was only a temporary roster situation to see how JFlo was going to do after his hiatus with the groin problem.

All the lefties are contributing. Stammen was discussed by Davey a few weeks ago as being a probable 'Cuse returnee, but his performance has been exceptional and more valuable in the BP than either Mattheus or Lidge.

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