Nationals Place Howie Kendrick On DL

The Nationals have placed infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick on the disabled list with a right Achilles injury, per a team announcement. His roster spot will go to right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, whom the Nats recalled from Double-A Harrisburg.

The severity of Kendrick’s injury isn’t yet known, though both the location of the problem and the fact that he left the team’s game on a cart Saturday are alarming.

Kendrick, whom the Nationals re-signed to a two-year, $7MM guarantee in the offseason, had gotten off to a productive start to the season prior to Saturday (.303/.331/.474 and four home runs in 160 plate appearances). The 34-year-old has also played several positions, primarily lining up at second base in place of injured star Daniel Murphy. With Murphy still working back from offseason knee surgery, Wilmer Difo should have second base to himself for the time being. The Nats had been turning to Difo at the keystone anyway in recent days while Kendrick occupied left field to help cover for the absences of the banged-up Adam EatonBrian Goodwin duo.

Now that Kendrick has joined Eaton, Goodwin and top prospect Victor Robles on the shelf, and minor leaguer Rafael Bautista is set to undergo season-ending knee surgery, Washington’s outfield depth is clearly weaker than it was entering the day. Bryce Harper and the struggling Michael A. Taylor still remain on hand in starting roles, though, with Matt Adams, Moises Sierra and Andrew Stevenson also serving as potential 25-man options. Their only other healthy, outfield-capable 40-man choices are Matt Reynolds and Jose Marmolejos, both of whom are on Triple-A. Of course, Washington also has another of the game’s best outfield prospects in Juan Soto, but he’s only 19 and has taken just 31 PAs above the Single-A level. Unsurprisingly, then, the Nats aren’t looking to rush Soto to the majors.

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East Notes: Rays, Nats, T. Frazier, Phillies

The Rays, who have employed some outside-the-box thinking with regards to their rotation this season, will turn to veteran reliever Sergio Romo for his first career start Saturday. The 35-year-old right-hander will take the hill against the Angels’ formidable offense after beginning his MLB tenure with 588 straight appearances out of the bullpen. Unsurprisingly, there’s almost no chance Romo will be in the game long enough to pick up a win, manager Kevin Cash suggested. “The thought process is fairly obvious,” Cash said of the decision to start Romo (via Jay Paris of MLB.com). “They are a heavy stacked right-handed lineup. Now, they can obviously change that, but a couple of their guys aren’t going to move no matter who’s pitching. So, if Romo can get through an inning or two, we’ll see where we are at and probably give the ball to (Ryan) Yarbrough.”

Meanwhile, a more traditional starting option – righty Nathan Eovaldi – is nearing his Rays debut. Eovaldi, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 (as a Yankee), is likely to join the team after a Triple-A rehab start Wednesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Eovaldi underwent Tommy John surgery late in the ’16 campaign, causing him to miss all of last season and some of this year, and has been dealing with a right rib muscle strain more recently.

More from Tampa Bay and a few other East Coast cities…

  • In other Rays news, the club placed shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, retroactive to Friday, Topkin writes. The team recalled righty Ryne Stanek from Triple-A to take Hechavarria’s roster spot. The light-hitting Hechavarria’s absence will leave short to infielder Daniel Robertson, who has quietly been one of the majors’ premier offensive players this year. Robertson’s slashing .284/.438/.471 with four home runs and nearly as many walks (26) as strikeouts (29) through 130 trips to the plate.
  • Nationals outfielder Rafael Bautista will undergo season-ending knee surgery, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. Bautista, 25, tore the ACL, LCL and meniscus in his left knee on a collision Thursday while playing for the Nats’ Triple-A affiliate. Even though Bautista has only totaled 33 major league plate appearances (six this year) since debuting last season, his loss is another unwelcome one for a team whose outfield depth has taken multiple hits in 2018. Washington was already down Adam Eaton and Brian Goodwin prior to Bautista’s injury, and it may have to go without Howie Kendrick after he departed Saturday’s game on a cart with an apparent ankle issue.
  • There’s no timetable for Mets third baseman Todd Frazier’s return from the DL, the player said Saturday (via MetsBlog). Frazier landed on the shelf May 8 with a hamstring issue, meaning he would have been eligible to come back Friday. Instead, the injury-riddled, slumping Mets will continue to go without the offseason free-agent signing. The Frazier pickup had been paying off for the Mets prior to his injury, as he began the season with a .237/.357/.412 line and five homers in 140 PAs. New York has turned to Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and Luis Guillorme at the hot corner in Frazier’s stead.
  • The Phillies activated righty reliever Victor Arano from the DL on Saturday. Arano went down April 30 with a strained right rotator cuff, before which the 23-year-old rookie produced dominant results. Across his first 12 innings of the year, Arano logged a .75 ERA/1.73 FIP with 9.75 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9.

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