The Nationals placed outfielder Rick Ankiel on the 15-day disabled list with a strained intercostal (rib cage) muscle in order to make room for today’s starter Tom Gorzelanny, continuing Ankiel’s frustrating first season in Washington.
On May 2, Ankiel started in center field for the 27th time in 28 games. He sprained his wrist while diving for a line drive, an injury that would eventually send him to the disabled list. When he returned, he found himself in a three-way platoon with Roger Bernadina and Laynce Nix.
Tuesday, he strained the muscle while taking a swing in his first at-bat and has not played since. Between injuries and diminished playing time, Ankiel has made 11 starts in the 43 games since the day after he first hurt his wrist.
“For me, it’s one of those things where you can’t control it,” Ankiel said. “The only thing I have a choice to control how I’m going to respond to it. I’m going to get ready to go.”
Ankiel took batting practice this morning, and he said he could probably return to game action Tuesday if needed. But if he aggravated the strain, he said, the injury would likely sideline him for a significant portion of the season.
“If I really blow that area out, then I’m in trouble,” Ankiel said. “I’ll take a few extra days to get it right then get ready to go.”
That risk, plus a recent dearth of at-bats that has added some rust, made going on the disabled list is best choice. Ankiel will promptly begin a minor league rehab assignment in order to take more at-bats. He will be eligible to return June 30, which is an off day, so Ankiel will next be able to play July 1.
“The best thing for him is to get it 100 percent taken care of,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said.
Ankiel, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract this offseason, has hit .204/.271/.276 with one homer, nine RBIs and seven stolen bases.