Garrett 'could be ready for Opening Day' after leg injury in '23

February 21st, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Stone Garrett’s season may have ended last year on Aug. 23 when he fractured his left fibula making a play at the right-field wall at Yankee Stadium, but the work didn’t stop. A winter dedicated to his recovery has rolled into Spring Training, where the outfielder is making significant strides toward his return.

“I never really had an offseason this year,” Garrett said Wednesday. “So it just feels like part of the rehab process, honestly. But it was good to be back out here.”

Garrett, 28, had earned starting time in the outfield when the injury occurred. The Nationals still envision him as a contributing member of the 2024 squad -- when he is ready. There is no date set for when Garrett could make his Spring Training debut, and the plan is for him to ease into game action once he is cleared.

“I just want to make sure that he’s 100 percent before we get him out there and really start fully going,” manager Dave Martinez said. “But he looks good. Look, he worked diligently all winter long to get himself ready. I think he’s in a good spot. I think as of right now, he could be ready for Opening Day, and that’s the way we’re looking at it.”

Garrett balances what he does in his individual rehab and the team workout. “There's no need to push it when it comes to that, doing excessive work. [It’s] just working smarter,” he said. Garrett has been participating in live batting practice and outfield drills during camp. During one defensive exercise, a coach fired off a fly ball a little further than he had been fielding them. His natural outfield reflexes kicked in.

“It’s kind of like instinct … I just went after it and caught it,” Garrett said. “[It was like], I can still do this. So it definitely was a sigh of relief.”

There are restrictions on baserunning, given the nature of the injury. For now, Garrett is emulating the motion in non-game settings with executive director of medical services Harvey Sharman.

“[He is doing] a lot of agility, a lot of arcs, running arcs because it’s the turn, the constant turn, the stop and go, stuff like that,” Martinez said.

Garrett also has taken the advice of close friend, southpaw MacKenzie Gore, and began wearing a left leg guard.

“I feel like I would jinx myself if I don’t wear it, and he'd be like, ‘I told you so,’” Garrett quipped. “I don’t want to hear that guy say, ‘I told you so.’”

From where he was late last August to where he is six months later, Garrett appreciates the progress he has made and every box he has checked that brings him one step closer to his return.

“It’s been such a process that we've been gradually getting there, so it feels almost normal, like this is just the next step in the process,” he said. “It's just like another day, a little bit more progression than yesterday. So it's definitely fun to see it come together.”