Jeremy Hellickson exits game with right hamstring injury

Jeremy Hellickson
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Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson made it through just four pitches during Sunday’s start against the Braves. He induced a groundout from Ender Inciarte for the first out of the inning, then saw Ozzie Albies reach safely after Mark Reynolds misplayed a throw to first. Hellickson scrambled to make the catch, but was soon seen grabbing at his hamstring and was checked by an athletic trainer and club manager Dave Martinez. He made a hasty exit from the field and appears to be down for the count with a hamstring injury, though the Nationals have yet to comment on the severity of the issue or announce a projected return date for their starter.

Hellickson, 31, has looked sharp so far this season with a 2.30 ERA, 1.3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 across 43 innings. Assuming his injury is severe enough to warrant a trip to the disabled list, it’ll be his first time doing so since 2015, when he missed a little over three weeks with a left hamstring strain.

The righty’s abrupt departure created an unexpected opportunity for rookie starter (and no. 16 prospect) Jefry Rodriguez, who made his major league debut with two outs remaining in the first inning. Per Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports, the 24-year-old represents the 42nd player to appear for the club this season. Rodriguez induced a pop-up with his very first pitch, then watched Nick Markakis rope an RBI single into right field to put the Braves on the board. The Nats were quick to follow suit; by the third, they had regained the lead with a two-run shot from Trea Turner, his seventh blast of the year. They currently lead the Braves 2-1 in the fifth.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.