ATLANTA -- Near the end of Spring Training, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters developed some tightness in his left side. He had been able to play through it -- enough to start the first two games of the season behind the plate -- but he felt fatigued by the end of
ATLANTA -- Near the end of Spring Training, Nationals catcher Matt Wieters developed some tightness in his left side. He had been able to play through it -- enough to start the first two games of the season behind the plate -- but he felt fatigued by the end of the game.
On Monday, the Nationals decided to exercise caution by placing Wieters on the disabled list with a mild left oblique strain. Pedro Severino, the club's No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline, was recalled in his place.
Oblique injuries can be difficult to manage, especially for a catcher. Wieters was optimistic Monday that he will be able to return after his 10-day stint on the DL, however, because of his performance on some of his strength tests. He is not expected to swing a bat during the next few days while the team is in Atlanta, and will instead focus on strengthening and maintenance exercises for his oblique.
"I think the big thing is we want to make sure we catch it early and get it right, before we get back out there," Wieters said. "The oblique is something that can keep you out for a while that you don't want to be out for, so I think we're doing the smart thing here and taking a step back."
Even with Wieters' status unclear earlier in the day, the Nats did not want to get caught without a backup catcher, especially considering they already have a short bench. So they summoned Severino, who was packing a bag for Triple-A Syracuse, to meet the team in Atlanta. He started behind the plate during Monday night's 8-1 victory and reached base five times, collecting a pair of hits, a pair of walks and reaching on a hit-by-pitch.
"I'm proud of him. He did a great job," manager Dave Martinez said. "My concern with him is not really his hitting, it's catching the way he did today. That was outstanding. If he can do that for us, that's what we want him to do. We want him to call a good game and catch like he did today."
Severino will split time with veteran Miguel Montero in Wieters' absence, although Martinez would not commit to a straight platoon between the left-handed Montero and right-handed Severino.
"We're just going to kind of mix and match," Martinez said. "I like Miggy. I liked what he did yesterday. He's going to get an opportunity to play. So is Sevy."
Wieters is 1-for-7 this year with a pair of walks. He did not appear to be hampered in any way, but after working on adjustments during Spring Training focused on getting his lower half more involved with his swing, he found himself limited through the first weekend.
"That's kind of like OK, we're in Game 2," he said. "We want to be able to take some of the things we've done in Spring Training and bring it into the season. So let's get back to being able to move like we want to be able to move, and go from there."
Murphy graduates from treadmill
Daniel Murphy ran on the field hours before Monday's game in Atlanta, the first time he has done so since undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee during the offseason. He had been limited to running on a treadmill prior.
It was another positive step for Murphy, who has continued to take batting practice on the field with the team, and ground balls at second base.
"I wasn't necessarily focused on the pace, it was more of kind of getting my stride length correct," Murphy said. "I think anybody who's been hurt, as much as anything, it's retraining your brain that you can handle the movement even if there's no discomfort, which there wasn't. Still have to retrain my brain, it's the first time I've hit the ground in almost six months."
• Right-hander Joaquin Benoit is still shut down from throwing as he nurses a right forearm strain back in West Palm Beach, Fla.
• A.J. Cole is scheduled to make his season debut on Tuesday, and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson will throw at extended Spring Training as he continues to build his stamina.
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.