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Yunel Escobar hopes to return Tuesday from groin strain

Yunel Escobar. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

The Nationals received good news, for now, about Yunel Escobar. He said an MRI exam showed that he had groin muscle inflammation and there was no tear. Escobar fielded grounders at third base before Sunday’s game and took batting practice in the batting cages.

Escobar said this is the first time in his career he has had groin issues. He tried to beat out a grounder to first base in the fourth inning of Friday’s game when discomfort first popped up. He left the game and hasn’t played since.

Coupled with Monday’s off day, Escobar hopes to get two more days of rest from playing and be back in the lineup Tuesday against the Cardinals. He plans on taking grounders and hitting in the batting cages on Monday’s off day.

“I think for Tuesday I’ll be fine,” he said in Spanish. “I’m gonna try. We’ll see.”

Escobar said managing the injury will be easier at third base. If he was still playing shortstop, he doesn’t think he could be back on the field this soon.

“If it’s only a little, that’s not a problem,” he said. “Running will be the challenge.”

Escobar was listed on Sunday’s lineup card as available off the bench. Beyond him, however, the Nationals are short staffed on the bench. Tyler Moore, a first baseman/left fielder, took grounders at third base before Saturday’s game, a position he has never played. Should anything happen to Danny Espinosa or Dan Uggla in Sunday’s game, Moore could be pressed into action.

In other injury news, Casey Janssen (shoulder) and Anthony Rendon (knee) continue their rehabs at the Nationals’ spring training facilities in Viera. General Manager Mike Rizzo wouldn’t provide a timetable for each when asked Sunday, but noted they are progressing. Rendon has been fielding grounders, running and hitting in recent days.

“He’s continuing his rehab and I think he’s making progress,” Rizzo said.

In unrelated injury news, umpire Brian Knight is recuperating and will undergo more tests, according to a Major League Baseball spokesman. He was hit in the face mask by a 97 mph fastball and left Saturday’s game. If all goes well, he is expected back at work next week. Knight isn’t working Sunday’s game and umpire Tom Woodring was brought into fill his spot on the crew.

UPDATE, 11:00 p.m.: Knight is expected to be back at work Monday, an MLB spokesman said.

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