Apr 28, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
Even more injuries – This week saw Bryce Harper head to the disabled list with a sprained left thumb, and until we hear about the second opinion he is set to have today in Cleveland, his timeline is unclear. Harper believes the injury will not linger beyond his 15 days on the disabled list, but nothing is definitive yet. Harper injured the same thumb in high school and they need to determine whether he suffered ligament damage.
Despite that unfortunate situation, the Nats should see more progress from Doug Fister and Scott Hairston this week. Fister – who is recovering from a right lat strain – will likely make his second and final minor league rehab appearance on Friday. That will set him up to make his Nationals debut sometime in the following week. Hairston – who is dealing with a left oblique strain – should have a better timeline after this week as well. He is heading to extended spring training for the next step in his rehab.
Though it doesn’t appear serious at this point, Danny Espinosa’s knee is another injury that should be monitored. He said he will see how he feels on Tuesday after taking a pitch off his right knee on Sunday. At this point it appears to only be a bruise, but he’ll need the swelling to go down in order to play.
First time facing the Phillies – On Friday the Nationals will travel to face the Phillies for the first series between the two teams this season. The Phillies are off to a decent start at 13-12, just a half-game game behind the Nationals as of today. It’s too early to call them a legitimate contender for the division, but they have been a surprise team. Chase Utley is off to one of the best starts to his career, he’s hitting .360 and carries a .998 OPS. Their pitching staff has struggled as a whole, but Cliff Lee (6 G, 3.29 ERA) and A.J. Burnett (6 G, 2.15 ERA) have been excellent. Ben Revere is also off to a nice start with a .312 average through 23 games.
Road trip – The Phillies series is just part of what will be a long time on the road for the Nationals. They will come back to play the Dodgers for three games May 5-7, but other than that, 11 of their next 14 are on the road. They’ll begin with the Astros before playing Philly, and then after the Dodgers go to Oakland and Arizona. So far the Nats are 5-4 on the road in 2014, but they will probably need to do better than that. After completing their recent 11-game homestand an underwhelming 5-6, it would be a nice time for a winning streak. As you see in the standings below, the Mets and Phillies are hanging in there.
NL East Standings
Offensive game of the week: Anthony Rendon 4/25 vs. Padres – 4 for 5, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B, SB
Pitching game of the week: Tanner Roark 4/26 vs. Padres – 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, BB, 8 SO, 105 pitches, 73 strikes
Quote of the week:
Jose Lobaton after the Nats’ 12-inning loss to the Padres on Thursday:
We want to win. We’re there to win. I think everybody wants to. We’re trying to do the best. I can see in the dugout, everybody wants to. I know it’s going to happen. I know the offense is going to be better and better. I know everybody is working for that. We’ve got to just get past this day and get ready for tomorrow.
Tweet of the week:
— Gio Gonzalez (@GioGonzalez47) April 21, 2014
MON – OFF
TUE – 8:10 p.m. at Houston Astros (Gonzalez)
WED – 8:10 p.m. at Houston Astros (Zimmermann)
THU – OFF
FRI – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Strasburg)
SAT – 7:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Roark)
SUN – 3:05 p.m. at Philadelphia Phillies (Jordan)
NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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