PITTSBURGH -- Hunter Strickland sustained a broken nose in the weight room at PNC Park on Tuesday, according to Nationals manager Dave Martinez. A weight bar struck him in the face during exercises, and he was bandaged up on the bridge of his nose.
Despite the injury, Strickland was available during Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Pirates, though Martinez didn’t turn to him due to the way he saw matchups playing out. Strickland was also on the field with the Nats during batting practice and stayed out to sign autographs prior to the game.
Strickland will not require time on the injured list, Martinez said, and he’ll continue to look for opportunities to plug him in to game action when he sees it fit.
“He’s available,” Martinez said. “He’s tough, as we all know. He’s tough.”
Strickland made a tongue-in-cheek Instagram post about the situation, giving the barbell the “win.” The injury marked the second mishap leading to a facial injury this season, after Max Scherzer fouled a ball off his face, leading to his famous black-eyed start on June 19.
Ross to remain in rotation
For a back-end starter, Joe Ross has pitched like an ace in August. In four starts this month, he has allowed just one run in 21 2/3 innings.
Ross had earned three straight wins before his early removal from Monday’s 13-0 win over the Pirates, which put a damper on his future in the very short term. But Martinez plans to keep Ross in the team’s rotation plans beyond Scherzer’s expected arrival Thursday, if healthy.
Ross’ right shin, which was struck by Josh Bell’s 110 mph comebacker in the fourth inning on Monday, was wrapped up on Tuesday, but the Nationals are still in wait-and-see mode with how long the pain and swelling will linger.
“He’s pretty sore today, so he’s just going to get treatment today and hopefully, by the end of the day, he’s moving around a little bit better,” Martinez said. “Right now, he’s still scheduled as planned to pitch.”
If Ross is healthy enough to make his next start, which looks to be Saturday, it will create some uncertainty regarding the role of Erick Fedde, who has been exclusively a starter since May 21. In that 12-game span, he holds a 4.48 ERA despite allowing a .861 OPS to opponents in 60 1/3 innings. He began the year in the bullpen, pitching in five games during his first of four recalls by the Nats this season.
“Right now, we’ve told him he has to be ready, just in case Joe can’t pitch,” Martinez said. “So we haven’t decided yet what we’re going to do with Fedde, because he’s pitched well. So we’ll come to a decision here in the next couple of days.”
Elias close to mound return
Roenis Elias is expected to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, per Martinez. The right-handed reliever has been on the injured list since Aug. 4 with a right hamstring strain, and the slated bullpen will be the first time he’s thrown off a mound since his injury.
“He feels a lot better,” Martinez said.