Nationals place Denard Span on disabled list with lingering back injury

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Nationals center fielder Denard Span has been playing through a back injury for the past month, missing games on and off while actually performing very well. Recently the pain became to much to play through and now he’s been placed on the disabled list with what the team is calling “back tightness.”

No one seems quite sure what the exact problem is and Span sought further details from a back specialist, with manager Matt Williams calling the situation “perplexing” earlier this week.

Span has hit .304 with five homers and a .798 OPS in 59 games for his best production since 2009, but now he joins left fielder Jayson Werth, third baseman Anthony Rendon, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and right-hander Stephen Strasburg on a crowded, star-stuffed Nationals disabled list.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.