PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals are going to be without All-Star closer Sean Doolittle for the time being after a pinched nerve in his left foot forced the team to place him on the disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to Saturday.Doolittle will not pitch in the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard
PITTSBURGH -- The Nationals are going to be without All-Star closer Sean Doolittle for the time being after a pinched nerve in his left foot forced the team to place him on the disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to Saturday.
Doolittle will not pitch in the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard next Tuesday, although he was looking forward to pitching in front of the home fans at Nationals Park. He wore a walking boot as he moved around gingerly in the clubhouse before Tuesday's game at PNC Park.
"I've got this stupid thing on to let it calm down for a couple days," Doolittle said referring to the boot. "I can still play catch, keep my arm in shape. So as soon as it clears up, hopefully it won't be that long of a process. But unfortunately it's kind of symptomatic right now, based on what I can tolerate. There's not like a timetable we can set. So it's really frustrating."
In his absence, Kelvin Herrera will take over duties as the Nationals' closer.
Doolittle was not entirely sure how the issue began, but he started to notice discomfort in the foot while going through his routine to pitch in Friday's game. He landed awkwardly trying to avoid a line drive to the mound on Thursday, but he was not entirely sure whether that was the root of the problem.
Still, he pitched through it and tossed a scoreless inning Friday. After that the foot grew much worse. He received an MRI on Saturday, when they discovered the pinched nerve in between the big toe and second toe.
After being unavailable all weekend, Doolittle attempted to try a bullpen session Monday in Pittsburgh; the foot did not respond well. He felt hampered in his pitching mechanics and had no mobility running or trying to hop off the mound to field bunts.
"I think now it was really sore after the fact," he said. "I kind of aggravated it. And today it was obvious it didn't respond well, it didn't pass that test. So it's going to need a little bit more time."
It leaves the Nationals without their most dependable reliever. Doolittle has converted 22 of 23 save opportunities and posted a 1.45 ERA in 35 games.
Herrera -- who converted 14 of 16 save chances as the Royals' closer before he was acquired by the Nats last month -- should slot in nicely, but the rest of the bullpen could feel a residual effect while Doolittle is sidelined.
"These guys, they've been putting in a lot of work and I feel bad that I haven't been able to help them," Doolittle said. "Right now, this is the only way I can help them, by giving my spot to somebody else who can."
• In addition to placing Doolittle on the disabled list, the Nationals optioned right-hander Jefry Rodriguez to Triple-A Syracuse and promoted right-handers Austin Voth and Wander Suero to take their spots on the roster.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.