After spending much of the season trying to fill vacancies created by injuries, the Nationals are about to get a couple of key veterans back from the disabled list.
Both Chad Tracy and Jayson Werth are expected to be activated off the DL during this week's homestand, with Tracy perhaps joining the active roster as soon as tomorrow.
Werth probably needs a few more days on his rehab assignment with Class AAA Syracuse, though the outfielder (who broke his left wrist on May 6) has begun to swing a hot bat. After going hitless in his first 12 at-bats, he enters tonight's game against Lehigh Valley having reached base in six of his last eight plate appearances with three singles, a double and two walks.
Werth has played seven total games on rehab, and both he and the Nationals prefer he spend a bit more time getting his timing down before he comes off the DL. That move could happen in time for this weekend's four-game series against the Marlins.
Tracy, meanwhile, is 6-for-9 with a homer and three RBI over the last three days with Syracuse. He's appeared in 11 total games with Syracuse and Class A Potomac, hitting a combined .333 with five RBI.
The most-productive pinch-hitter in the majors before he needed surgery in late-May to repair a sports hernia, Tracy could give the Nationals another potent bat off the bench if he returns in time for tomorrow's series opener against the Phillies.
Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers.
Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.
Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS.
With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years.
Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan
The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger.
When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue.
Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season.
Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans.
Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts.
Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010.
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