Suzuki's timeline to return to Nats unclear

Veteran catcher still sidelined with right elbow inflammation

September 14th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- was out of the Nationals lineup again Saturday, missing his sixth straight game with inflammation in his right elbow that caused him to leave a game a week ago in Atlanta.

Suzuki has started to resume baseball activities, hitting in the cage Friday and heading to the bullpen Saturday afternoon to track pitches behind the plate to keep himself on track, but he has not been cleared to resume throwing until the inflammation goes down in his elbow. Suzuki is expected to take on-field batting practice this week.

“Once we do that, we can see how far we can push him to get him ready,” manager Dave Martinez said. “But a lot’s going to determine [when he is ready] -- what he feels and how he feels.”

The Nationals certainly miss Suzuki in the lineup, where his edge in offensive production (.791 OPS, 16 homers, 0.2 bWAR in 81 games) and rapport with the rotation earned him an edge in playing time over (.671 OPS, 10 homers, 1.0 bWAR in 85 games), even though Gomes is superior defender and pitch framer. The Nats brought in both catchers this offseason hoping to split playing time between the two veterans.

Gomes started six games in a row before Saturday, when stepped into the starting role. Read’s start marked the first by a catcher other than Gomes and Suzuki this season.

“We miss [Suzuki]. We hope we can get him back soon,” Martinez said. “But he’s doing everything he can to get ready to play soon as possible.”

Worth noting
Righty , who is sidelined with a right forearm strain, threw long toss on Friday. Martinez was hopeful he could throw a bullpen session some time this week.