Reynolds is the second player the Nationals have demoted since beginning their nine-game road trip in New York last Monday. The first, Trevor Gott, was called back up Saturday in Los Angeles. Kelley is the fourth player they’ve placed on the disabled list since the beginning of the road trip — he joins Brian Goodwin, Matt Grace and Anthony Rendon — and sixth since the start of the season. That number doesn’t include Daniel Murphy, Koda Glover, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Ross, all of whom were placed on the disabled list before Opening Day.
That’s all in addition to the three players on Washington’s Opening Day roster that have been designated for assignment: catcher Miguel Montero, right-hander A.J. Cole and left-hander Enny Romero. Cole was traded to the New York Yankees on Monday, while Romero was claimed by Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month. Montero remains without a team.
Kelley exited Monday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants after allowing a two-run home run on his first pitch and spiking his fourth pitch several feet in front of home plate. He was then removed and diagnosed with ulnar nerve irritation. Kelley, 33, is part of a small — but growing — group of pitchers that have resumed their careers after two Tommy John surgeries.
He’s had more success than just about anyone in that group, but he’s pitched with limitations since undergoing the second procedure in 2011 and with the understanding that his career could end with one pitch because a third Tommy John surgery is impossible.
Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said Kelley is “sore but he feels better” and will undergo an MRI exam when the team returns to Washington.
Sanchez made his major league debut with the Nationals last season, when the team used a club-record 49 players as the injuries piled up. The 26-year-old Venezuelan was a pleasant surprise after not beginning the season on the 40-man roster and jumping from Harrisburg to the majors. He batted .268 with a .654 OPS in 34 games while playing second base, shortstop and third base. This season, Sanchez was batting .286 with a .760 OPS in 14 games for Syracuse.
He replaces Reynolds, another utility infielder, on the roster. The Nationals acquired Reynolds from the Mets in February after he had been designated for assignment. He appeared in 10 games for the Nationals and made one start at third base. He went 1 for 12 with a walk in 13 plate appearances.
“Sanchez has been playing every day, swinging the bat well,” Martinez said. “We wanted to get Matt playing again and just give him some more playing time. He was just sitting, getting stale. We thought he should go down, play and get some at-bats.”
Bautista joins the Nationals after recently being named the International League player of the week with Syracuse. The 25-year-old speedster batted .429 with a .966 OPS and three steals in 10 games for Syracuse after beginning the season with Class AA Harrisburg. The Dominican Republic native made his major league debut last season, and batted .160 in 17 games.
“I’ve been working on my strike zone and my swing a lot,” Bautista said. “It’s been getting better and better every game, every at-bat. I take those couple things that I can make good, make better.”
Promoting Bautista seemingly indicates that Adam Eaton, who is traveling with the team, won’t be activated from the disabled list at least while the club is on the road through Wednesday. Eaton was placed on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his left ankle on April 11, backdated to April 9, and was eligible for reinstatement on Thursday. While Manager Dave Martinez has said Eaton is progressing, he has refused to disclose a specific timetable for his return.
After missing most of last season with an anterior cruciate ligament tear, Eaton made a thunderous return from the top of the Nationals’ lineup this season, batting .345 with a 1.079 OPS in eight games. But on April 5, he hurt the ankle, the same one he sprained when he tore his ACL last April. He returned to play in a game three days later, but the pain resurfaced and he hasn’t played since.
“When we get him back this time, we don’t want any issues,” Martinez said. “We want him to play and not worry about anything.”
Without Eaton, the Nationals have started Brian Goodwin, who has since also been placed on the disabled list; Moises Sierra, a spring training nonroster invitee; and Matt Adams, a natural first baseman, in left field. They are three of the 33 players the Nationals have already carried on their active roster through 24 games.