Nationals right-hander Christian Garcia will be shut down for as long as two weeks with a strained right wrist, an ailment he suffered a week ago throwing a bullpen session in cold, blustery conditions.
Garcia remains confident rest will reduce the pain, which he feels on the underside of his forearm, at the base of his hand, and after time away from throwing he will resume a normal preparation for the season. The question is not structural damage, he said, but pain tolerance.
“Right now, I’m just going day-to-day,” Garcia said. “It feels better. Each day it’s lessened. So it feels good. Pretty much, we’re waiting until goes away.”
Garcia hopes he can stay away from throwing for only five days, then return to long toss and rebuild his arm strength. Manager Davey Johnson, though, suggested Garcia could be shelved for 10 to 14 days for precautionary reasons.
“It’s going to be totally up to him,” Johnson said. “He felt better today. He doesn’t think it’s too serious. He’s in a good frame of mind.”
Garcia, 26, has one of the best arms in the entire organization; Johnson has compared his raw stuff to Stephen Strasburg‘s. The Nationals plan on stretching out Garcia this spring, the start to the process of turning him from a late-inning reliever into a starting pitcher. Johnson expressed optimism Garcia’s injury would not hinder those efforts.
“Shoot, we got five weeks,” Johnson said. “I’m not worried about it. He was throwing the heck out of the ball. It’s just a bump in the road. Not a big deal.”
Meanwhile, Johnson mapped out the plans for several other members of the Nationals’ pitching staff. Tyler Clippard did not pitch yesterday, and he is the only reliever other than Rafael Soriano not scheduled to make his spring debut in the next three games. Clippard is fine; Johnson does not want Clippard – who has pitched 252 innings, more than any other major league reliever, over the past three years – to be overworked early in spring.
“He said he thought last spring, he got going too quick,” Johnson said. “He didn’t feel right when he started. He wanted to just back off a little bit. It’s all about the individual knowing what he needs, when he needs it, to be ready opening day.”
Newly acquired starter Chris Young will throw a bullpen session today, and then one more later this week, before he appears in a spring training game. Johnson plans for him to take Ross Detwiler’s place in the Nationals’ Grapefruit League rotation when Detwiler leaves for the World Baseball Classic on March 4. Young’s first start would come March 9.
Reliever Henry Rodriguez, who is ramping up after he had surgery last summer to remove a bone chip from his elbow, will throw a bullpen session today, too. After one more bullpen session, Rodriguez should be ready to get into spring games.