Rick Ankiel is ready to return from his quadriceps injury and manager Davey Johnson said today that he’ll come off the disabled list as the Nationals’ starting center fielder.
Roger Bernadina has started six of the Nationals’ seven games in center field, with Jayson Werth moving over from right field to take the other start.
Bernadina has hit just .238 with a .657 OPS in 260 career games, so it’s easy to see why Johnson and the Nationals are quick to replace him, although it’s also worth noting that Ankiel hit a nearly identical .239 with a .659 OPS in 122 games for Washington last season.
Michael Morse has been shut down for at least the next six weeks following a setback in his rehab for a lat muscle injury, so the Nationals can certainly use the outfield help, but Ankiel doesn’t figure to provide much relief offensively or defensively.
According to MLB.com associate reporter Jarrid Denney, right-hander Michael Pineda threw off a mound Wednesday morning at Target Field for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Pineda was signed to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract this winter by the Twins, who are probably more focused on what he might be able to do in 2019 rather than 2018.
He had the reconstructive elbow surgery last July 18, so he won’t be an option for the Minnesota rotation until probably late August or September of this year. Still, that deal seems like a nice gamble given the price point and the possibility that he will regain his form as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. That he’s making steady progress in his rehab makes the situation all the more encouraging.
Pineda, 29, holds a 4.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 687 strikeouts in 680 career major league innings.