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Mattheus awaiting MRI on upper chest

Feb 24, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT

AP AP

VIERA, Fla. — Ryan Mattheus will undergo an MRI on his upper chest later today, a test the Nationals reliever hopes reveals only a minor injury that would allow him to resume throwing in a matter of days.

Mattheus hasn’t pitched since Tuesday, when he first felt a pull in his upper right chest while jogging following his bullpen session. It continues to hamper him nearly a week later.

“It’s weird. It’s some sort of rib injury,” the right-hander said. “It really doesn’t bother me with everyday activities, but when I cough or sneeze, then I want to drop to my knees. It’s really painful.”

Team doctors held Mattheus out of workouts for several days, hoping rest alone might resolve the issue, but he still feels the discomfort. X-rays were negative, but he’ll undergo an MRI later today to determine the extent of the injury.

Mattheus said doctors are fairly confident the issue is muscular, perhaps a slight straight of an intercostal muscle.

“It could be really minor,” he said. “Even if it’s an intercostal, that’s 3-to-4 weeks and then you ramp back up. So it’s nothing that’s going to cost me the season or a long period of time. It’s just kind of bad timing right now.”

Serious injury or not, Mattheus was hoping for a more positive start to an important camp for him. The 30-year-old reliever, a key member of the Nationals’ 2012 bullpen, is trying to bounce back from a dreadful season in which he posted a 6.37 ERA, broke his right hand punching a locker in frustration after a poor outing and was demoted to Class AAA Syracuse for a stretch.

Mattheus is just one of several relievers competing for the one or two available spots in the Nationals’ Opening Day bullpen.

“I’m trying to get my name in the competition, so for that sake of it, it kind of stinks,” he said. “Bad timing. But I’ve got to take my time. I can’t really try to pitch through something right now. That won’t do me any good, either. We’ll find out more. Hopefully I’ll have a better answer tonight.”

  1. sjm308 - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Does Mattheus have options? If so, this is a no-brainer.

    • karlkolchak - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      I’m not positive, but I believe he has one option left he was placed on the 40-man roster in 2011 and spent time in the minors that year and last year.

      That said, even without options he’s 30-years old, had a terrible year last year and as a RH middle reliever is a perfectly replaceable commodity. It is even possible that if he got DFA’ed he might manage to clear waivers.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    is garcia in the camp? has he done any sessions? if so, how does he look? please don’t tell me that he got injured again.

    • sjm308 - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      With all the news coming from this site and others, if Garcia was hurt, I am sure we would have heard something. I am reading between your lines that he could be a huge addition and I agree. Would you start him at AAA just to make sure?

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        I want us to bring best 25 to DC. I don’t see many candidates that can outperform Garcia in a bullpen role, given his potential and arsenal. besides he is already 28 YO, he has to contribute to big leagues now.

      • Hiram Hover - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Honestly, with Garcia, it seems to be a question of when he gets hurt, not if.

        He should come north on Day 1, so the team gets as many healthy days out of him as possible before his inevitable trip to the DL.

  3. dgourds - Feb 24, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    He wouldn’t have made the team anyway..

  4. natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Kilgore put out his 25 man Opening Day roster.

    Detwiler as 5th starter and Cedeno and Ayala in the last 2 spots in the bullpen carrying 3 lefties and Espi and Carroll on the bench over TyMo.

    • DaveB - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      Ayala is right-handed.

      Surprising to see Kilgore listing him for Opening Day … some of his logic seemed based on the fact that Ayala has an opt-out if not on the 25 man, while most of the others have options.

      • natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        DaveB, I have Ayala as a righty, I incorrectly counted Detwiler in the pen. Thanks for the correction.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      if detwiler becomes a reliever, he can be relied upon long relief unlike cedeno. fifth starter can go to either roark or jordan while garcia can replace ayala if he is up for it. I would like him to.

      I don’t see any 1B backup for ALR in that bench group.

      • Hiram Hover - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        Maybe Kilgore is taking seriously the idea that ZIm backs up ALR at 1B, Rendon can slide over to 3B.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        Isn’t he supposed to get like about 10-15 starts at 1B? that’s too few for a back up, no?

      • Hiram Hover - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        ALR made 151, 154, and 152 starts in 2010, 12, 13 (skipping his injured season in 2011).

        I’m not saying I think this is a good idea, mind you, just that maybe it’s what Kilgore was thinking. Or maybe he just forgot about backing up 1B.

      • Hiram Hover - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Oops, that was total appearances, not games started, which were lower: 143, 149, 143.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        I think we need to give more breaks to ALR against lefties. Moore is more suitable for backup role than RZ in that case.

      • Hiram Hover - Feb 24, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Given that he’s right handed, you’d expect Moore to hit lefties better than ALR.

        But in fact, he hasn’t–in both of his big league seasons, Moore hit righties better than lefties, and LaRoche did better vs lefties than Moore in both years. Small sample size for Moore, to be sure, but it’s hardly a sure thing, esp. given the chance that Moore is mediocre to bad, period.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Feb 24, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        I think it is sample size issue. I don’t have much faith in ALR against lefties these days. I would still use Moore as his backup.

    • dgourds - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Why in the WORLD would you take Ayala over Roark! Makes no sense even when you take into account options. Best 25 go North! Heck, Roark is better than Det!

  5. knoxvillenat - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    I can’t see carrying both Carroll and Espinosa on the 25 man. If Moore can hit during ST and hold his own at first base I think he needs a roster spot.

  6. natinalsgo - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Boz with a great piece on Fister. To quote Boz “But those who do not take the time to analyse Fister should be embarrassed. Fister can throw harder. He chooses not to and, in the process, prices that movement and command can be as effective as huge speed.”

    That’s powerful. I’ve read that message here before that Rizzo too often went after Velo and ended up with guys like EJax and HenRod instead of command and control pitchers that were ERA sure things.

    If this works, and it should, the Nats will be a breakthrough team. 4 pitchers in the ERA Top 20!

  7. sjm308 - Feb 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    While I had questions with Kilgore’s choices, I think he did a decent job of stating why and even he mentioned that the last two guys in the pen and on the bench were difficult choices. He also made it clear that this was the first of many stabs at the 25 man and obviously gives us somethingi to talk about.

    I have no problem, if Roark does not win the #5 role, starting him at AAA so he can continue to throw regular innings. I would not keep him there long and the first injury to any pitcher, or the first hiccup, would have him in DC quickly. I loved what he did last year but I also think Ayala had a great year with the Braves. Hard to believe he made more appearances than Kimbrel in the playoffs but look at his numbers, they are not shabby.

    On the bench, I go with Tyler Moore over Carrol and that is not even close. I also make sure that LaRoche rests for most lefties giving Moore a shot at showing us that he can be the first base choice for 2014.

    Go Nats!!

    • dgourds - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      If Ayala was so great in Atlanta, why didn’t they pick him up? Why does he have a minor league contract? The Cards use upcoming pitching prospects out of their pen. Look at Rosenthal, Wacca. We should bring the best 25 North. One big reason we failed to make the playoffs last year was complacency. Rizzo thought his bullpen was good enough. He didn’t need a good lefty there–his bullpen with Zach Duke was good enough. He stuck with a stinking Espinosa for half a season because he would come around. He assumed last year’s team was as good as 2012. Can’t do that. We have a relatively short window of Werth in his prime, Strassberg, Z-mann, Z-man in his prime, Harper before free agency, Go before free agency, Fisher before free agency, etc. We’ve got to send the best team we can to kick some a$$ the WHOLE season, even April. Roark should go North, not to AAA.

      • dgourds - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        Dan autospell. Meant Go and Fister.

      • dgourds - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Gio

      • letswin3 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        It’s surely not hard to argue that “good enough” wasn’t good enough last year. I completely agree with the “too long of a leash” for Duke, HRod and Danny criticism. And I remember Davey suggesting in ST that his pen needed 2 lefties that he didn’t get. I can probably live with Moore at AAA to start the season, with the Rzim rotation scheme involving Rzim to first, Rendon to 3rd and probably Danny to 2nd. to give ALR days off, but the leash for ALR last year was obviously (at least to me) too long …. if Adam isn’t cutting it (regardless of his early “pattern”, call Moore up and start him every day until he proves that he can’t hit like he has the last 2 years in AAA when he got 3 or 4 at bats every day. If we believe that LaRoche can only hit in the second half of the year, then send him to the Caribbean until the AS break, and play Moore (I know that’s silly .. just trying to make a point). I know it would be awkward to see LaRoche on the bench, but I will trade awkward for wins every single time. The salary of the guy sent out there to play first base ought not be a consideration when managing to win.

  8. realdealnats - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    How come we aren’t hearing about Garcia?

    And how does Blevins look?

    Anyone?

  9. Joe Seamhead - Feb 24, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    I read earlier this off season that Matt Williams said that, in addition to RZ, Hairston may also play some time at first base. I’m not sure where Tyler Moore fits in on this team. I doubt seriously that he gets any time in the OF except maybe in total mop up situations.

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