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Sipp, Kendrick set back by inclement weather

Nationals name DeBartolo, Mondry-Cohen assistant general managers
@JamalCollier
March 19, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The weather derailed the Nationals' plans for two players facing tight timelines to be ready for Opening Day, limiting the amount of baseball activity Tuesday morning for Tony Sipp and Howie Kendrick. The Nationals had hoped Kendrick -- who is recovering from a strained left hamstring --

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The weather derailed the Nationals' plans for two players facing tight timelines to be ready for Opening Day, limiting the amount of baseball activity Tuesday morning for Tony Sipp and Howie Kendrick.

The Nationals had hoped Kendrick -- who is recovering from a strained left hamstring -- would be able to get some at-bats in a Minor League game and Sipp -- who joined camp late after signing as a free agent last week -- would face hitters in live batting practice. Tuesday’s inclement weather combined with an off-day Wednesday means they will likely not get a chance to do so until Thursday at the earliest, one week before Opening Day. And while manager Dave Martinez acknowledged the team will be cautious with the recoveries for both players, he did not want to rule either out to start the season on time.

“You want to be able to break camp with everybody healthy and ready to go, but in [Sipp’s] case because he had a short Spring Training, we’ve got to be very careful,” Martinez said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Braves. “Howie, same. As much as I want him back for Opening Day, I want to make sure that we’re really careful. He sustained a pretty good injury with his Achilles [last May] and you don’t want him to go south on you. So, I’d rather have him for the long haul than 10 games at the beginning of the year.”

Sipp seems more likely to be ready to start the season on time. On Sipp’s first day of camp last Thursday after passing his physical, he threw a 35-pitch bullpen session. Martinez still wants to see Sipp field grounders off the mound, face hitters in live batting practice and face hitters across multiple innings to make sure his arm can bounce back from between-innings breaks.

Because he is a short stint reliever, there is still time for him to get ready to start the season on time if he appears in a game sometime this weekend, barring any setbacks. And considering the Nats signed him to a Major League contract, they will almost certainly have to put him on the roster to start the season.

“We just have to wait and see,” Martinez said. “I want to be very careful and have him ready, not have him just for a short stint.”

Kendrick’s status is a bit more difficult considering not just his hamstring strain, but that he also had surgery on his right Achilles in May. The Nats were going to be cautious with him from the start of camp and the injury has made them even more careful. Kendrick fielded grounders, hit in the cage and ran Monday, and his next step will be to start playing in Minor League games before the Nats are ready to rule on his status.

“We’re going to wait and see how he feels,” Martinez said. “He’s a different cat. He’s strong. Remember when this first happened … and it ended up being just a strain. So we hope that he can be ready.”

Nats make two front-office promotions

The Nationals named both Mike DeBartolo and Sam Mondry-Cohen to assistant general managers on Tuesday, promoting two of general manager Mike Rizzo’s top lieutenants to more prominent titles.

DeBartolo, who has been with the organization since 2012 and started as an intern in the baseball-operations department, had been the club’s director of baseball operations the previous three seasons. He will aid in decisions affecting the 40-man roster, including salary arbitration and contract extensions to free agency, trades and all other matters of baseball operations, according to a press release.

Mondry-Cohen joined the Nats as an intern in the baseball-operations department in 2009 and had been the team’s director of baseball research and development since 2015, essentially the team’s analytics department. He will now oversee the front office’s analysis of baseball data and development of department-wide baseball systems including projection of player performance, strategic planning and data to optimize on-field performance.

Up next

The Nats have their final off-day of the spring on Wednesday before they host the Cardinals on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. ET at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Jeremy Hellickson will be on the mound for his fifth Grapefruit League outing. Hellickson has a 1.29 ERA with 13 strikeouts and three walks in 14 innings.

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