Jhontan Solano has been dealing with an oblique strain and could be sent to the disabled list, as early as Wednesday night because of it, Manager Davey Johnson said.
Catcher Sandy Leon is among the likely candidates to be recalled to fill the backup catcher role, Johnson said. Leon caught a tough break in his first stint with the Nationals, suffering a high-ankle sprain in his major league debut on a collision at the plate on May 14.
Leon was placed on the disabled list following his injury. He rehabbed and was optioned to Class AA Harrisburg earlier this month. Leon, known for his defense, had a strong start to his season in the minors. He is hitting .311 in 40 games with Harrisburg.
Solano first felt the pain when he started on Sunday in Miami and it bothered him when he swung. He impressed in his short time in the majors with his bat and hustle. Solano joins shortstop Ian Desmond, utility man Mark DeRosa and first baseman Adam LaRoche as Nationals players who have dealt with oblique-type injuries this season.
The Nationals have endured a rash of injuries to their catchers this season. Four catchers — opening day starter Wilson Ramos, current everyday starter Jesus Flores, callup Carlos Maldonado and Leon — have all missed time due to injuries. Solano now becomes the fifth catcher to do so.
The addition of Leon adds another defensive catcher to the Nationals roster to help ease the workload on Flores, who has been banged up playing almost every day. Flores has already played in 56 games this season — more than he has played since 2008. He missed all of the 2010 season and rehabbed last season from serious shoulder surgery.
Flores has handled the Nationals pitching staff well, but at the plate he has struggled some recently. His batting average has dropped from .271 in early June to .229 now. Since the start of the month, he is in a 3 for 29 slump. Johnson said he talked with Flores recently and told him to enjoy himself more because he puts too much pressure on himself to excel both behind and at the plate.
“Just quit grinding and punishing yourself as much as you do and just relax and try to enjoy it a little bit more,” Johnson said he told Flores. “But he certainly has got the ability to hit. I’m not worried about it. I’m not as worried as he is. Hopefully, he’ll lighten up and relax and quit pressing.”
Johnson also said that the Nationals could decide by Friday what they will do with outfielder Xavier Nady. He landed on the disabled list on June 24 with tendonitis in his right wrist and has been rehabbing since for nearly two weeks. In nine games at Class A Potomac, Nady is hitting .167.
With the Nationals, he is hitting .157 in 102 at-bats. With a bevy of roster moves anticipated for this week, Nady could be a candidate to clear a roster spot. The Nationals like what Nady can offer, a veteran presence and a power hitter, but in a numbers crunch, he could be an option.
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