NEW YORK -- Ryan Madson (aka Blest for Players' Weekend) was back in the Nationals' clubhouse on Saturday, and the right-handed reliever could be available to pitch in a game as soon as early next week.Madson, on the disabled list since Aug. 14 with lumbar nerve root irritation, believes that
NEW YORK -- Ryan Madson (aka Blest for Players' Weekend) was back in the Nationals' clubhouse on Saturday, and the right-handed reliever could be available to pitch in a game as soon as early next week.
Madson, on the disabled list since Aug. 14 with lumbar nerve root irritation, believes that a week of work with personal trainer Jay Schroeder has brought him to the point where he can pitch without the back trouble that forced him out of action. Madson expects to throw a bullpen session in front of the Nationals' staff Sunday at Citi Field.
If all goes well, he could be activated Monday or Tuesday in Philadelphia.
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"He says he feels fine," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "But I want to see it."
Madson was a key member of the Nationals' bullpen down the stretch in 2017, but he hasn't been nearly as consistent this season. He went on the DL after allowing David Bote's dramatic walk-off grand on Aug. 12 at Wrigley Field, admitting the back trouble was affecting the way he pitched.
Madson credits Schroeder with helping him get back to the Major Leagues in 2015, after injuries sidelined him for nearly three full seasons. This week, Schroeder had Madson throw balls into a net while using sensors to determine what motions were leading to the back pain.
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"He kind of dialed me back into the mechanics I need," Madson said.
Now it's time for Madson to prove he can take those mechanics to the mound and make them work. In that way, Sunday's bullpen will be something like a tryout.
"That's the way I'm going to treat it," Madson said.
Doolittle progressing slowly
Closer Sean Doolittle (Doc) won't be back this week, but Doolittle said Saturday he has seen some progress in his recovery from left toe inflammation.
"The last week we've been trying to turn a corner," Doolittle said. "I've thrown off the mound five times with mixed results. The good news is the last time [Thursday] was the best. I want to come back this year. I miss being out there with the guys. I want to be part of this team."
No days off for Soto (yet)
Martinez wrote 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto (Juanjo) into his lineup again Saturday, the 45th consecutive game Soto has started. While it's not exactly a Cal Ripken streak, it is a lot for a kid who came into 2018 having played just 83 Minor League games in the last two years put together.
"We watch his games and his at-bats," Martinez said. "We talk every day, and he says he feels good. It's hard to take him out of the lineup."
The Nationals have had Soto cut back on extra work before games, telling him to do only what he needs to get ready for that day's game.
Asked about the National League Rookie of the Year Award race between Soto and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., Martinez gave a similar answer to the one he has used with Max Scherzer and the NL Cy Young Award race.
"I'm a Juan Soto fan," he said.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.