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Latest on Elías, Freeman, other IL Nats

@jessicacamerato
September 19, 2020

The Nationals have been hampered by injuries in 2020, headlined by the season-ending surgery of Stephen Strasburg. With just over a week left in the regular season, manager Dave Martinez provided updates on the players whose year was cut short, as well as those still eyeing a comeback this month

The Nationals have been hampered by injuries in 2020, headlined by the season-ending surgery of Stephen Strasburg. With just over a week left in the regular season, manager Dave Martinez provided updates on the players whose year was cut short, as well as those still eyeing a comeback this month (listed by IL date).

Roenis Elías: Left forearm flexor strain, 60-day IL, July 13
Elías has spent the entire season at the alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va. The left-handed reliever has thrown live batting practice and simulated games as part of his rehab.

“He still needs to get built up,” Martinez said. “We’re hoping that he can go back-to-back days, but we’ll see how he feels. It’s been a slow process for him, but he actually is feeling better. Hopefully, whether we get him back this year or not, he leaves here feeling good about going into the winter.”

Elías, who has been in the big leagues since 2014, has made an impression on his teammates as he works his way back.

“Elías has been pretty good,” shortstop Jackson Cluff, the Nationals' No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline, said. “He's got stuff. His arm is pretty live.”

Sam Freeman: Left forearm flexor strain, 60-day IL, Aug. 13
Freeman underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 19, Martinez said on Saturday. The 33-year-old left-handed reliever underwent the same procedure as a Minor Leaguer and missed the entire 2010 season.

“He’s been through a lot in his career,” Martinez said. “He was so happy that he was able to come back and get in the big leagues again, and it was unfortunate that he got hurt.”

Freeman was making his mark in the bullpen this season prior to the injury. He had posted a 1.80 ERA over five innings (seven games), with six strikeouts, seven walks, two hits and only one run. He did not allow a homer.

“I thanked him for everything he’s done,” Martinez said. “He was a good teammate, easygoing, great to talk to. I told him he’s in a tough situation because he is kind of older, but I said, ‘I’ve seen guys come back, so just keep your head up, keep plugging away, get through that rehab and see where you’re at.’ But he’s such an unbelievable person -- one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.”

Starlin Castro: Broken right wrist, 60-day IL, Aug. 14
The second baseman underwent surgery last month to have a pin placed in his fractured wrist, and he has been rehabbing at his home in Miami. Castro has expressed his eagerness to return to Martinez since he was sidelined.

“Starlin’s doing well,” Martinez said. “He’s kind of itching to get rolling and start working out, start hitting.”

Seth Romero: Broken right hand, 10-day IL, Aug. 24
The Nats' No. 11 prospect is rehabbing from surgery on his non-pitching hand at the alternate training site. He has been able to throw to keep his arm loose, but he still can’t wear a glove.

“As soon as he can get a glove on and start playing catch, he could get ramped up,” Martinez said. “Hopefully he could do that here soon. We’ll see.”

Howie Kendrick: Left hamstring strain, 10-day IL, Sept. 9 (retroactive to Sept. 6)
After dealing with lingering hamstring issues, Kendrick has been taking batting practice and running while being sidelined from game action. The 37-year-old is aiming to get off the IL for the end of his 15th Major League season.

“Howie’s good,” Martinez said. “He’s actually trying to get back with us this year to finish out the season.”

Sean Doolittle: Right oblique strain, 10-day IL, Sept. 11
The veteran left-hander went on the IL just when he was hitting his stride in a bumpy ninth season. He had dropped his ERA from 15.00 to 5.87 at the time of his injury.

“Doolittle’s still not able to do a whole lot,” Martinez said. “He’s just trying to recover. I think that’s going to be a slow process.”

Other Nationals players on the IL include:
RHP Stephen Strasburg: Carpal tunnel neuritis (right hand), 60-day IL, Aug. 15
RHP Javy Guerra: Left hamstring strain, 10-day IL, Sept. 2
RHP Dakota Bacus: Right flexor strain, 10-day IL, Sept. 7
RHP Tanner Rainey: Right forearm flexor strain, 10-day IL, Sept. 15 (retroactive to Sept. 12)
OF Adam Eaton: Fractured left index finger, 10-day IL, Thursday

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.