The focus on Ryan Mattheus after last night’s 3-1 Nationals win should have been on the one batter he faced, a crucial strikeout of Paul Janish in the sixth inning with men on the corners, two outs and the Nationals up one run. Instead, it was on the unusual circumstances of how he left the game.
The Nationals officially labeled Mattheus day-to-day with right shoulder tightness, but he called the tightness in his shoulder “a non-issue.” He would have pitched a second inning had Jayson Werth not spoken.
Between innings, Mattheus stretched out his shoulder in the dugout. Werth asked Mattheus if he was okay. Matthues told him his shoulder felt a little tight, but he was fine. Still, Werth alerted pitching coach Steve McCatty, who told Manager Davey Johnson.
“You’ve got to be careful when you’re doing those kinds of things [like stretching], because guys get concerned, as they should,” Mattheus said. “Jayson being a leader of this ballclub, looking into the future, he told the pitching coach.”
By the time Johnson heard, Mattheus had already taken the mound and thrown three warm-up pitches. Johnson trudged to the mound, trainer Lee Kuntz and McCatty in tow. They asked him how he felt, and Mattheus, again, said a little tight, but fine.
“That was the end of the ballgame for me,” Johnson said. “That was scary.”
Mattheus understood the worry, but he also didn’t think he needed to come out of the game.
“Even the three warm-up pitches I threw were fine,” Mattheus said. “I stretched it out, and it was good. To me, it was a non-issue. To them, it’s a little different story. Because they’ve got to answer questions if something does happen. So I totally understand where they’re coming from. It was tough. I definitely wanted to stay in that game.”
Mattheus is in first full season back from Tommy John, but he does not want that experience to shade the rest of his career. Asked if his history made him more sensitive to pitching through pain, Mattheus said it should not be a factor.
“I hate when people say, ‘my history,’ ” Mattheus said. “I had one surgery, and people think I’ve been on the DL for my whole career. I mean, I understand they’re cautious, as they should be. They did the right thing.”
FROM THE POST
Jesus Flores and Jordan Zimmermann, who spent last year in Viera together, lifted the Nationals to a 3-1 win over the Reds.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Gwinnett 1, Syracuse 0: Brad Peacock allowed no runs in seven innings on one hit and five waks, striking out six. Roger Bernadina went 2 for 4.
Harrisburg 4, Akron 2: Bryce Harper went 1 for 3 with a walk before he left the game with a strained hamstring. Derek Norris went 2 for 5 with a home run. Danny Rosenbaum allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings on six hits, three walks and one strikeout. He recorded 17 groundball outs and one flyout.
Potomac 4, Winston-Salem 3: Michael Lozada went 3 for 4 with a triple and a walk. Sammy Solis allowed one run in three innings on five hits and no walks, striking out two.
Kannapolis 12, Hagerstown 4: Michael Taylor went 2 for 5 with a double. Adrian Sanchez went 2 for 4 with a double and a home run.
Auburn was postponed.