Ryan Mattheus returned to the Nationals on Friday, called up as the 26th man for a doubleheader against the New York Mets after missing two months with a self-inflicted broken hand. Manager Davey Johnson said the right-handed reliever would be available for both games.
Mattheus last pitched on May 19 when he allowed five runs and later punched a locker following a rough outing in San Diego. He has come to grips with the injury and apologized to his teammates, but it didn’t make it any easier watching the Nationals tumble in the standings while he rehabbed.
“It’s tough to watch the struggles even when I am here,” he said. “Like I said, these guys are my family and my friends so when they struggle, I struggle. But knowing that it was self-inflicted and then seeing them struggle, it was tough to deal with.”
Mattheus appeared in six games during his minor league rehab assignment that mirrored a spring training build-up. The last one was on Tuesday, two scoreless innings for Class AAA Syracuse. He pitched back-to-back days for Class AA Harrisburg earlier. All of his pitches and velocity have returned after an extended time away.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “It was a long time. It was tough to sit back and watch the games from that perspective. It’s good that I can go out there and contribute today. It’s an amazing feeling being back.”
Mattheus’s immediate future with the team is unclear. The Nationals will need to make a roster move after the doubleheader and have various contingencies. On Thursday, Johnson did not rule out the possibility of Drew Storen being the odd man out in the pitching staff.
“I’ve sat out for a little over two months and if it’s one day, I’ll be happy,” Mattheus said. “Obviously, I want to be here. Those decisions are 100 percent out of my hands. I’ll be here as long as they want me to. I’m ready to contribute and hungry and ready to get back out there.”