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Injury updates: Eaton, Rendon, Murphy

Hellickson called up to be 5th starter; Cole sent to bullpen
Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Dave Martinez sat behind the desk in the visiting manager's office at Citi Field and gave the updates on the injured Big Three -- Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy. But the Nationals' skipper made it clear that his team's inconsistency hasn't just been about marquee names missing from his lineup card.

"Even without them, we've still got to go out and play the game," Martinez said before Monday night's opener of a three-game series against the Mets after a 3-7 homestand left Washington at 7-9, six games behind New York. "Have them, of course, it helps. But without them, look, we've been in all the games so far this year. We've just got to clean up little things.

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NEW YORK -- Dave Martinez sat behind the desk in the visiting manager's office at Citi Field and gave the updates on the injured Big Three -- Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy. But the Nationals' skipper made it clear that his team's inconsistency hasn't just been about marquee names missing from his lineup card.

"Even without them, we've still got to go out and play the game," Martinez said before Monday night's opener of a three-game series against the Mets after a 3-7 homestand left Washington at 7-9, six games behind New York. "Have them, of course, it helps. But without them, look, we've been in all the games so far this year. We've just got to clean up little things.

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"The baserunning has got to get better. I look back at [Sunday's 6-5 loss to Colorado] at some of the things -- the two-strike home runs -- we've got to start getting away from that and making our pitches. But all in all, I'm proud of the way the guys are going about their business. They're playing hard. We've been in every game. We're just going to keep pushing."

Eaton went on the 10-day disabled list last Wednesday -- retroactive to April 9 -- due to a bone bruise in his left ankle. The left fielder can be activated Thursday, an off-day.

Video: NYM@WSH: Eaton hits a leadoff double, gets ovation

Asked if he hopes Eaton can return to the lineup Friday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Martinez said, "Definitely, we're hoping to get him back as soon as possible. He's going through all the stages of trying to get back. I know he ran a little bit today. He's feeling a little bit better every day. So we'll see what happens."

Martinez said Rendon has a bad bruise after fouling a ball off his left big toe Friday night. The third baseman missed the next two games against the Rockies and wasn't in the lineup on Monday against the Mets. There's no clarity yet on whether the bruise will require a trip to the DL. Right now, he's day to day.

"We've just got to play it out and see what happens," Martinez said. "He said he's getting a little better, but at this point, he's still pretty sore."

Video: COL@WSH: Rendon fouls ball off foot, exits game later

Then there's Murphy. The heavy-hitting second baseman underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in October. He reported to West Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday to start playing in extended spring training games.

"He actually just got there, so he didn't do much," Martinez said. "He's going to get his workout in [Tuesday] and probably play the next day."

One of the injury replacements is still hurting. Brian Goodwin wasn't in the lineup in place of Eaton on Monday due to the left wrist issue he sustained last Wednesday when he dove for a ball. Goodwin returned Sunday as a pinch-hitter and was available again off the bench.

"At some point, we've got to get him back out there playing," Martinez said. "Right now, we're trying to take care of him, give him one at-bat and let him play defense. His wrist is sore, and we're trying to limit his at-bats."

Video: ATL@WSH: Murphy practices as he continues recovery

Roster moves
Jeremy Hellickson was activated to take over as the fifth starter Monday night, so righty reliever Trevor Gott was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse to make room on the 25-man roster, and catcher Jhonatan Solano was moved from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster.

Gott owned a 5.40 ERA over five outings, although opponents batted just .176 against him. Solano is out due to bone chips in his right elbow.

Cole to the bullpen
A.J. Cole opened the season and made two starts as the Nationals' fifth starter, but with Hellickson's arrival, he was sent to the bullpen. Cole got lit up for 10 runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings at Atlanta in his first start, but the 26-year-old righty was better against the Braves in the second one, allowing two runs, three hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.

"He was very accepting," Martinez said. "He said he'll do whatever it takes to help the team. Look, he pitched really well. … We need him down there. We're lacking a long man, and he's the guy and he fits perfectly."

Brian Heyman is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

Washington Nationals