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Hellickson activated from DL with unclear role

Righty would prefer to 'get a few more starts in' rather than relieving
MLB.com @JamalCollier

PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals activated right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (right wrist) from the disabled list before Wednesday's game against the Phillies, even though -- with expanded rosters and a rotation that is currently full -- manager Dave Martinez was not exactly sure what Hellickson's role will be.

"At the moment right now, we're taking it one day at a time," Martinez said. "We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. ... It's up in the air."

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals activated right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (right wrist) from the disabled list before Wednesday's game against the Phillies, even though -- with expanded rosters and a rotation that is currently full -- manager Dave Martinez was not exactly sure what Hellickson's role will be.

"At the moment right now, we're taking it one day at a time," Martinez said. "We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. ... It's up in the air."

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Washington wants to use the final weeks of the season to get a look at the young arms in its rotation, primarily Joe Ross and Erick Fedde, both of whom were activated from the DL at the start of this month. With two spots in the Nationals' 2019 rotation currently up for grabs, these final starts could be an audition of sorts for Ross and Fedde to join Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark next season. Last week, Martinez said he did not plan on using a six-man rotation.

Considering the state of Washington's bullpen following Tuesday's doubleheader and with the threat of inclement weather in the forecast, Hellickson was available out of the bullpen for Wednesday's series finale. He believes he is a starting pitcher, though, and said on Wednesday afternoon that he wants to get a few more starts before the season ends.

"I want to start, get a few more starts in," said Hellickson, who will be a free agent this offseason. "I'm a starter. Never came out of the bullpen. ... I'm a starter, so I don't think that's something I really want to do."

Hellickson had been one of the team's most consistent starting pitchers this year, but two stints on the DL have interrupted his season. He has been limited to 88 1/3 innings over 18 starts, but he has a 3.57 ERA. Martinez says Hellickson has certainly earned the right to state how he feels about pitching in relief.

"And I like that," Martinez said. "The fact of the matter is we have a lot of guys that are doing well right now. He understands that, too. He got hurt, so he's got to work his way back."

Nats' travel plan for Thursday
Following Wednesday's game in Philadelphia, the Nationals anticipate traveling back to Washington for Thursday's makeup game against the Cubs, despite rain in the forecast throughout Thursday and the threat of Hurricane Florence.

"We're getting on a bus tonight and playing the Cubs tomorrow," Martinez said.

Washington is not supposed to be hit directly by Florence, but it could still see heavy rains, raising questions about whether the makeup game would be postponed to a later date or moved to a neutral site. But Martinez seemed confident the Nats would be heading to Washington and then Atlanta for a three-game set this weekend.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Jeremy Hellickson