Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, who missed the first two months of the season with knee and oblique injuries, is headed back to the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps muscle.
Rendon played 18 games between the DL stints, hitting .290 with zero homers and a .737 OPS while splitting time between second base and third base defensively. Last season he played 157 of 162 games, leading the league in runs scored and finishing fifth in the MVP balloting.
He joins left fielder Jayson Werth, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and backup outfielders Nate McLouth and Reed Johnson on the Nationals’ disabled list, forcing manager Matt Williams to put together a patchwork lineup that will once again likely include plenty of playing time for Danny Espinosa.
Michael Taylor began the season as the Nationals’ starting center fielder, but once Denard Span returned from the disabled list they sent the 24-year-old prospect to Triple-A.
Taylor is back in the majors now but this time it’ll be in a part-time role, as the Nationals have recalled him from Triple-A to replace injured backup outfielder Reed Johnson on the roster.
Span, Bryce Harper, and Jayson Werth are all healthy, so it’ll be interesting to see what type of plan manager Matt Williams has for getting Taylor some playing time. It’s also possible that he’s only around for a short-term solution until the Nationals can find another veteran to take Johnson’s role.
Before being sent back to the minors Taylor hit .271 with two homers and an .814 OPS in 12 games for the Nationals and he went 10-for-26 (.385) with a homer in eight games at Triple-A.
The Nationals’ lineup hasn’t looked nearly as intimidating as usual during the season’s first week, but an important piece is close to returning.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, outfielder Jayson Werth played in a doubleheader with Class A Potomac today as part of his minor league rehab assignment. Werth, who is working his way back from January shoulder surgery, homered and played the full game in left field in the first game before serving as the DH in the second one.
Werth has a scheduled off-day tomorrow, but assuming he feels good, he’ll be activated from the disabled list for Monday’s game against the Red Sox.
The Nationals have relied on a combination of Tyler Moore, Clint Robinson, and Reed Johnson in left field this week. They have combined to go 1-for-15 with a walk and an RBI coming into Saturday’s action. Getting Werth back will be nice, but the Nationals are also waiting on Denard Span and Anthony Rendon to get healthy.
UPDATE: Hours after being released, Johnson has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Nationals.
Veteran outfielder Reed Johnson, who re-signed with the Marlins on a minor-league deal in mid-February, has been released.
Johnson is 38 years old and hit just .235 with a .614 OPS and 37/1 K/BB ratio (yes, 37 strikeouts and ONE walk) as a part-timer for Miami last season.
Between his rapidly declining performance and the Marlins already having 41-year-old Ichiro Suzuki as their veteran fourth outfielder Johnson always seemed like a longshot to crack the roster again. He had a good run as a useful role player who thrived against left-handed pitching.
Veteran outfielder Reed Johnson has re-signed with the Marlins on a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
For a long time Johnson was an ideal fourth outfielder who could handle all three spots defensively and knock around left-handed pitching, but now he’s 38 years old and hit a combined .239 with a .630 OPS during the past two seasons.
He got into 113 games for the Marlins last year despite producing a .614 OPS, but just 27 of them were starts. He’ll compete for another bench spot.