The Nationals aren’t the only squad in the organization depleted by injuries this first month of the season. The Nationals’ minor leagues, especially the depth at Class AAA Syracuse, have been ravaged by the injury bug. The following are some of the players on Syracuse’s roster currently on the disabled list: left-handed starter Danny Rosenbaum (elbow), reliever Christian Garcia (shoulder) and outfield prospect Eury Perez (foot). Two of them — Rosenbaum and Perez — will likely miss a significant chunk of the season.
Infielder-outfielder Jeff Kobernus suffered a broken finger that required surgery while he was at Syracuse, and he was placed on the major league 60-day disabled list more than two weeks ago. Reliever Erik Davis, who likely would have added depth at Syracuse before he sprained his elbow in spring training, underwent Tommy John surgery during the first week of the regular season.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s part of what you have to deal with in this game,” said Mark Scialabba, the Nationals’ director of player development. “I don’t want to attribute it to one thing. If you pitched, you have a chance to get injured. If you run the bases hard, you have the chance to be injured.”
Garcia — who had a stellar September as a 2012 call-up, was injured nearly all of 2013 and competed for a bullpen spot this spring — landed on the disabled list with a sore shoulder after throwing 49 pitches on April 21. Garcia and the Syracuse bullpen carried a heavy load that day because Rosenbaum left his start in the third inning with left elbow pain.
Rosenbaum is scheduled to receive a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews on his elbow, which isn’t normally a good sign, but weather has delayed his travel to Florida. Tommy John surgery is a possible outcome.
Perez has a fractured bone after fouling a ball of it on Monday. Kobernus was hit by a pitch on April 7 and later had surgery, and is expected to be out another month.
“Syracuse has more transactions in April since I’ve been here,” Scialabba said. “We’ve signed some free agents and players coming up through the system that will get an opportunity and will push guys up.”
In the last week of March, the Nationals signed right-hander Omar Poveda and left-hander Aaron Laffey, both starters, to minor league deals to round out Syracuse’s roster. Just before that, Ross Ohlendorf, who could have started the season at Syracuse, landed on the 60-day disabled list with a right lumbar strain.
In addition to the injuries at Syracuse, the minor league has been depleted by the major league call-ups. With Steven Souza Jr., Zach Walters and Tyler Moore in the majors, the lineup isn’t the same. Will Rhymes has hit third and clean-up. Josh Johnson and Jose Lozada, both infielders, have placed the outfield. Will Piwnica-Worms jumped from Class A Potomac to Syracuse to serve as a backup outfielder.
At the lower rungs of the minor leagues, one injured prospect is progressing. Left-handed starter Sammy Solis, who was limited to only two big league spring training appearances because of a back issue, threw three innings on Wednesday in extended spring training in Viera. Scialabba said that, according to the reports, Solis threw the ball well.
The Nationals took a cautious route with Solis as he returned from his back issue. Solis, who could still help the Nationals later this season when needed and is on the 40-man roster, is destined for Class AA Harrisburg when he returns. Also at Harrisburg, outfield prospect Drew Vettleson, who was acquired from Tampa Bay in the Jose Lobaton deal, suffered a broken hand on April 13 when he was hit by a pitch.
With Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper on the major league disabled list with varying hand injuries, and now two prospects also dealing with broken bones in their hands, Scialabba said: “We’ve had an unbelievable amount of hand injuries.”