Several rehabilitation pitchers are approaching the return

BALTIMORA – While none of them are ready to return yet, several Nationals pitchers in rehab are nearing their return to the active roster, a potential boon for an overworked staff this summer.

Mason Thompson today began a rehab assignment for Triple-A Rochester and pitched a goalless inning, with a strikeout during the frame. The right, out since mid-April for a bicep strain, is expected to make several more minor league appearances to increase the arm, but could be added to the bullpen as soon as he reaches that point.

Sean Doolittle, meanwhile, has pitched from 120 feet, a significant progression as he attempts to return from an elbow sprain he suffered in late April after making only five appearances. The veteran southpaw appears to benefit from the effects of a platelet-rich plasma injection he received last month, even though he still needs to jump off a pile before he knows he’s on his way to recovery.

“He says he feels really good,” manager Davey Martinez said today, “which is great.”

Aníbal Sánchez and Josh Rogers are now in West Palm Beach, Florida, throwing live shots. Sánchez, out of opening day with a nervous conflict in his neck, pitched two innings for the organization’s Rookie-tier club and may soon join one of the higher-tier minor league affiliates to increase the number of courts before potentially come out the list of injured for 60 days.

Rogers, in IL since June 3 for a shoulder bump, is likely to return to the bullpen once healthy because the club was short on lefties.

Victor Arano, who has been out since June 6 due to an inflammation in his left knee, in recent days had limited himself to throwing while sitting to protect his leg. But the right-hander rose to take some real shots today and emerged encouraged by the process.

“We told him, ‘You can’t sit and throw, you know. Let me know when you can get back on your feet too ‘”Martinez said with a laugh.” So today he told me he could. “

* Despite two days off this week offering a chance to move things around, the Nationals have decided to keep their current five-man rotation in order, giving everyone an extra day or two of rest along the way.

Paolo Espino will kick off the series opening on Friday night in Texas, taking on former Nats prospect Dane Dunning (one of the players traded to the White Sox for Adam Eaton before the 2017 season). Josiah Gray will kick off on Saturday, with Jackson Tetreault making his third career start in Sunday’s series finale against Rangers.

“At this time of year, I wanted to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Martinez. “I talked to (coach Jim Hickey’s pitcher) about the rotation going on. I gave JoJo a couple more days. Jackson was shot in the leg (in his last start), so I wanted to give him a couple more days. I think we are well prepared for the weekend. “

* Ehire Adrianza will start from third base tonight, giving Maikel Franco only his second day off this season. Adrianza, along with newly activated Alcides Escobar, offers Martinez more home defenders on the active roster, allowing Franco and second-baseman César Hernández to get more regular rest days after playing straight in the first two months of the season.

Now, however, Martinez’s challenge is to find enough ways to keep Adrianza and Escobar fresh off the bench.

“I want to try and make sure I give these guys four jokes once or twice a week,” the manager said. “We’ll see. (Shortstop Luis García) is playing well, so I want to keep him out every day. But soon I could give César a day off here. Today Maikel has a day off. He played a lot and performed well, so I wanted to give him a day off here. free day”.

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