The Nationals are too macho for their own good


Don’t blame me for the word “macho,” which I thought went away when “Three’s Company” went off the year. Boswell uses it. But at least he uses it in the service of a good point:

Nothing in baseball is trickier than figuring out how to handle small day-to-day injuries that can quickly turn into four- to six-week trips to the DL. After 38 seasons of covering baseball, I don’t think anybody is much good at it. But you can spot patterns and problems. Whether consciously or not, the Nats have developed an ultra-macho team culture of playing with “minor” injuries. While the Nats are conservative in recovery protocols after major surgeries, they seem to be just the opposite in dealing with “dings.” It’s not working. And it’s contributing to killing their 28-29 season.

Boswell gives numerous examples of banged-up Nats players whose effectiveness seems to have been hampered by injuries that probably should have landed them on the disabled list.

Boswell doesn’t put too fine a point on who is to blame, however. He politely notes that, perhaps, Mike Rizzo’s assessment of players’ ouchies has not been accurate. He talks about a culture that Davey Johnson has created of players being hard-nosed. He also gives voice to Rizzo’s comments that maybe the players aren’t playing “smart” with injuries.

But as with the case with the Mets a few years ago, isn’t this also an issue for the medical staff? Are they doing their job? Is Rizzo pulling the trigger fast enough on DL calls? Is Johnson’s “World Series of Bust” pronouncement from the spring being taken far too literally? And is the team doing anything about it?

Johan Camargo will start season on disabled list

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Braves third baseman Johan Camargo will begin the regular season on the disabled list with a strained side and back, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Camargo suffered the injury last week in a Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays and hasn’t played since.

With Camargo out, Rio Ruiz will likely play third base in his place, as well Charlie Culberson and Danny Santana. O’Brien notes that had Camargo not been injured, the Braves likely would’ve left Ruiz off the roster in favor of an extra outfielder or third catcher.

Camargo had a solid rookie season for the Braves in 2017, batting .299/.331/.452 across 82 games. Ruiz did not fare as well, batting .193/.283/.307 in 53 games.