COMMENTARY | Injuries have been a consistent problem for the Washington Nationals this season and have left them with holes in their lineup and a diminished bullpen.
Jayson Werth continues to linger on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, and Wilson Ramos is making his second trip to the DL with his own hamstring issues. The Nats also suffered a significant setback when Ryan Mattheus punched a locker after a rough outing and knocked himself out for a month or more. And, finally, Christian Garcia, who made a brief but productive cameo last year, continues to work his way back from a tendon injury suffered in spring training.
Here's a quick of recap of where everyone is in his recovery:
Ryan Mattheus (RP) - 15-Day DL as of May 20
In one of the more embarrassing injuries in the league this season, Mattheus fractured his throwing hand when he punched a locker after giving up five runs to the San Diego Padres. Losing a reliable reliever who has appeared in 115 games over the past three seasons weakens the bullpen at a time when the team is leaning heavily on its pitching staff. The strain on the bullpen showed quickly as Yunesky Maya, who was called up from the minors after Mattheus' injury, yielded a game-winning home run in his first appearance. Mattheus will probably be out for at least a month and is unlikely to see the field before late-June.
Wilson Ramos (C) - 15-Day DL as of May 16
Ramos limped to first after re-injuring his left hamstring while running out a single against the Los Angeles Dodgers. A visibly frustrated Ramos, who has appeared in only 39 games over the past two seasons, headed to the clubhouse as Kurt Suzuki again took his place in the lineup. Although Ramos was hopeful he'd be back quickly, it looks like the team wants to play it safe since this is his second hamstring injury this year. Ramos will be lucky if he's back by the first week of June.
Jayson Werth (OF) - 15 Day DL as of May 3
After missing half the season last year, Werth hasn't gotten off to a much better start in 2013. Since he initially hit the 15-day DL on May 3 with a hamstring injury, he has had his return date steadily pushed back. He only made it through three innings of his minor-league rehab assignment, and Davey Johnson recently noted that he had received an "alarming report" on Werth's injury.
Right now it's looking like he won't get back on the field until early-June. With Werth celebrating his 35th birthday during his latest trip to the DL, the Nationals have to be worried about his ability to stay healthy going forward.
Christian Garcia (RP/SP) - 15-Day DL as of March 22
Garcia showed promise last year after a late-season call-up, posting a 2.13 ERA in 13 relief appearances, but he suffered a partially torn tendon in his right forearm during spring training. He's been slowly working his way back to action since and is getting ready to start a minor-league rehab assignment.
At the end of last season, Davey Johnson talked about converting Garcia to a starter and is still planning to do so, though it's possible issues with bullpen depth could affect those plans.
John Cannon is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Washington Nationals.
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