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Wieters reinstated off DL; Nats option Severino

MLB.com @JamalCollier

PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals have struggled to find production from their catching position this season, but they should receive an upgrade after activating Matt Wieters from the disabled list prior to Monday's 6-3 loss to the Pirates. Wieters went 1-for-4, singling in his last at-bat in the ninth.

Wieters has been out since May 11 with a left hamstring strain that required surgery to repair. He played in a pair of games at Double-A Harrisburg during a Minor League rehab assignment to test out his legs behind the plate.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals have struggled to find production from their catching position this season, but they should receive an upgrade after activating Matt Wieters from the disabled list prior to Monday's 6-3 loss to the Pirates. Wieters went 1-for-4, singling in his last at-bat in the ninth.

Wieters has been out since May 11 with a left hamstring strain that required surgery to repair. He played in a pair of games at Double-A Harrisburg during a Minor League rehab assignment to test out his legs behind the plate.

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"It'll be nice to get out there again and play in a big league ballgame," Wieters said. "I'm excited; it was a lot of hard work to be able to get the hamstrings stronger, but definitely feel good with the hamstrings right now."

Washington desperately could use improved play at catcher.

Nats' catchers have been the least productive in MLB this season, ranking 30th in the Majors in both wRC+ (47) and Wins Above Replacement (-0.5) as measured by Fangraphs. Wieters has struggled since joining the Nats at the start of last season, but in 23 games his wRC+ was around league average (98) and he was worth 0.4 fWAR. The Nationals have interest in acquiring a catcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, a source told MLB.com, although they are hopeful Wieters could be the addition they seek.

In the meantime, Wieters should provide an upgrade over Pedro Severino, who had received the majority of the playing time behind the plate while Wieters was on the DL. Severino was optioned to Triple-A to create room on the roster. Manager Dave Martinez indicated the team wanted Severino to continue getting everyday at-bats, but it is telling they elected to keep Spencer Kieboom on the roster instead of Severino.

The past few weeks could have been an opportunity for Severino to earn more playing time and establish himself as the catcher of the future in D.C. Instead, he hit .171/.256/.254 for -0.7 WAR in 63 games.

"We just want him to get better," Martinez said. "I told him today, I said look, I really believe that he's the future here. He's done a good job, but sitting on the bench is not going to help him. He needs to play."

And there are some who wonder whether the struggles of the Nationals' pitching staff is tied to Wieters' absence. Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez, two of the pitchers Wieters worked most closely with, have scuffled during the past months and there have been a few notable instances of miscommunication between the young catching duo and some of the Nats' veteran relievers.

"[Wieters] led our pitching staff for a while," Martinez said. "Having a veteran guy back to handle the staff is pretty good."

Worth noting
Stephen Strasburg will make a Minor League rehab start for Class A Advanced Potomac on Tuesday.

• The Nationals have still not determined a next step for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who seems likely to return after the All-Star break. Martinez says he wants Zimmerman to go through a full pregame routine at some point this week before he begins playing in games.

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

Washington Nationals, Matt Wieters