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Kelley placed on DL with ulnar nerve injury

Nats reliever has twice undergone Tommy John surgery
MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Kelley was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with an ulnar nerve injury.

Kelley admitted he was a bit puzzled by this one. During injuries in the past, he could point to overuse or some issue in his mechanics, or perhaps he had been pushing through an issue all along. But this year, he felt good.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Kelley was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday with an ulnar nerve injury.

Kelley admitted he was a bit puzzled by this one. During injuries in the past, he could point to overuse or some issue in his mechanics, or perhaps he had been pushing through an issue all along. But this year, he felt good.

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In fact, just hours prior to Washington's 4-2 loss to the Giants on Monday night, he was raving about the strength of his arm around the batting cage. That's why Kelley was perplexed after he was forced to leave the mound with irritation in the ulnar nerve in his elbow. It's a similar issue to what he felt in 2016, when a sensation went through his arm and he had trouble feeling his fingers.

Kelley felt it on the first pitch he threw in the sixth inning, which Mac Williamson launched for a two-run home run. Manager Dave Martinez sensed something was not right from that pitch, but Kelley threw three more, the last of which he spiked into the dirt at home plate before Martinez emerged from the dugout with a trainer.

"I felt really good all season," he said. "I know it's early, but for me, for April, especially in the cool weather, my velocity's been up, my strength's been good. The stuff I've been doing in the weight room and training room with the guys has been really good.

"It's probably been the best I've felt in years. So that's kind of -- this one is kind of puzzling. Like I said, I can sometimes point to something or think back to something, but it was a kind of a head-scratcher this time."

Kelley had not pitched since April 16, although prior to the game, Martinez said it was not because of an injury, but rather he had not found a spot for Kelley to pitch in a game. Even when he has been on the mound the past two seasons, Kelley has struggled to prevent home runs, so the club has been reluctant to use him in tight games.

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

Washington Nationals, Shawn Kelley