One of the more annoying things about the Nationals is their proclivity to gamble on injured players to recover while simultaneously being unable to keep players healthy. Time and time again they seem to get credit for taking this risk without sustained success.
Well, four years ago this category appeared and two of the three players featured are no longer with the organization. Ten years ago, a.k.a. the last time this category was this large, only three players ever made the big club with the Nationals, and only one – LHRP Sammy Solis – appeared in an entire season.
While you may argue that Lucas Giolito did pay off insofar as they were able to deal him for a major leaguer who contributed some (one healthy season out of four; you know which one that was), the experience of Taylor Jordan is more typical: a player with far more promise than production.
With that said, here’s the latest crop of guys who are battling injuries and hoping to get healthy…
Lee was a surprise addition to the 40-man in November 2021 before going on the I.L. twice, the first time in May while pitching for the Senators, then again for the big club after one start and three relief appearances. The latter was described as a “left flexor strain” and kept the 25-y.o. sidelined for nearly two months before he made three appearances in the FCL and three for the Blue Rocks from August 15 to September 2.
Tetreault also saw the high of making his MLB debut sour within less than a month as he went down with a stress fracture of the right scapula after his July 2 appearance. As is common with the Nationals, Tetreault did not pitch again and a full report on his condition can be found on Jimmie Dimmick’s front lawn sign.
After missing more than two months of 2021, Henry was nursed along in 2022 going no more than four innings until June 5th and skipping two turns in rotation in May. He went down after his 9th appearance and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in late August. While some studies have found recovery rates as high as 74%, the sample sizes are very small.
“Shoulder discomfort” sidelined the undersized southpaw for three months last summer, which was enough for the Nats to successfully pass him through waivers and the Rule 5 draft. The 24-y.o. was allowed to pitch in the Mexican Winter League where he struck out 10 in 11 appearances (9⅓ IP).
It’s unclear what sidelined Shuman, who did not pitch after July 11 and was lifted in the 2nd inning of his final appearance. This is particularly disappointing because it had appeared that the “northpaw” had rebounded from an awful finish in 2021 after the Nats acquired him from the A’s in July 2021.
Hernández went on the I.L. in April 2022, which was not reported until late May, and never pitched in a game that counted during the season. He’s not listed on the Tommy John surgery tracker but that list is not complete, as there are others (see below) who are known to have had the surgery not listed. If Hernández did come down with Nats’ elbow, he might not surface until the FCL season begins.
The party line is that House had a bout of COVID and a back injury, both of which were eventually pried out of the front office after (presumably) weeks of inquiries. This is in keeping with the Nats’ tradition of treating injuries like state secrets instead of something that naturally occurs in sports. If House did have back surgery last summer, he should still be ready for this season.
Like Hernández, Quintanilla started the season on the I.L. Unlike Hernández, he came out of witness protection in Florida to make seven MiLB appearances between July 2 and August 8. He was then activated from the FredNats’ I.L. and placed on the Low-A affiliate’s Developmental List.
Ramirez missed more than two months during the 2021 season due to elbow issues which did not go away in 2022 spring training. It’s not clear exactly when the 21-y.o. had surgery (March? April?) but it’s probably safe to bet that he won’t be leaving Florida until midsummer.
While position players can often come back sooner than pitchers, Lile is a right-handed thrower and left-handed batter. That means his timeline is probably closer to that of a pitcher, which means he’ll probably join Hernández, Ramirez, and Quintanilla in West Palm Beach for a good chunk of 2023.