The Nationals are too macho for their own good

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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?

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.